CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Betty White

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 women who “changed the game” and made a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond. 

When you ask a contemporary television viewer, “Where did Betty White get her big TV break,” you probably would get different answers.

She appeared as either a regular or recurring guest star on numerous shows through the 1960s and 70s in classic programs like, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Jack Parr’s Tonight Show and as host of the annual California Rose Parade or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Or it could be her numerous appearances on classic game shows like I’ve Got A Secret, Match Game, To Tell The Truth, What’s My Life and also the program, Password, in which she married the host, Alan Ludden, in real life. 

But her big break came on the 1950s sitcom, Life With Elizabeth.  The show was really a reimagining of a show called Hollywood on Television, for which White received her first Emmy Award nomination.

The difference between the two shows was that White was co-owner of Brandy Productions, which bought the rights to the show.  This move made White one of just two women (the other being Lucille Ball) who both starred in AND produced the program–giving her full control of the creative content.

Elizabeth was a unique show in that it consisted of three separate sketches on each show–all featuring White–and was extremely successful.  The only reason the show was cancelled was because of a misguided idea that the show’s distribution company thought the 65 episodes they had already produced would “oversaturate the market” and devalue the show’s syndication financial intake.

White immediately found work in another groundbreaking show — the ABC fantasy-comedy, Date With The AngelsShe would go on to star in a number of early television shows, including two versions of a talk/variety program with her name in the show’s titles.

Betty would also break down by being the first female offered a role on a primetime news show, NBC’s Today Show — a position that was later filled by Barbara Walters.

She would continue to be one of the first actresses to make regular appearances on the iconic talk show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, along with other popular talk shows, variety programs and game shows throughout the 60s and 70s.

White would continue to star in television roles for the next several decades, starring in more recent programs like The Golden Girls, Golden Palace, Hot In Cleveland and a sitcom version of The Betty White ShowShe was also nominated for several guest starring roles well into her 80s in shows like The Practice, Boston Legal, Modern Family and was the host of the candid camera lookalike program, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.

She continued to break new ground by becoming the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live at the tender age of 88.  She also voiced a toy tiger character two years ago in Disney\Pixar’s Toy Story 4 after celebrating her 97th birthday.  The role was ironic because White has spent most of her life as an advocate for quality animal health.  She worked with and later chaired several organizations raising money for dogs and cats as well as zoo animals.

You can see a special marathon of Betty White in her breakout series, Life With Elizabeth, this Monday starting at 9 pm on RCN TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

HOOPS POLLS: 3/2/21

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.

Here’s three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls…

1)  I mentioned back in early December that this year’s Colonial League campaign–with or without COVID related issues–was going to be one of the most competitive seasons over the past 20 years … and that turned out to be the case!

There were a number of games that went down to the final possession for both the girls and boys teams during its playoffs last week.  

The girls Notre Dame team – the tourney’s number one seed–was upset by Palmerton in the semifinals.  Last week’s games saw several ladies who will be playing Division-I college ball in the future.

For the championships that you saw on RCN-TV last week, we had two great ball games, starting with a back and forth battle between Northwestern and Palmerton girls in game one.

The Bombers, led by Junior Brianna Moore, held the lead early in the fourth quarter before she went down with an injury. The Tigers shortly thereafter took the lead and never relinquished it the rest of the way, although Palmerton tried to make it interesting again late.

The boys contest was also a seesaw battle and featured two of the very best players–not just in the conference–but in the entire region, in Brendan Boyle and CJ Miles. Defense was definitely not a factor as the teams combined for nearly 160 points with the second seeded Slaters taking the title this year.

Both star players scored over 75 points by themselves over the last three games (Boyle scored a school record 42 in the league semi-finals).  Expect to see more fireworks from them as the district playoffs get underway this week.  Both Boyle’s Notre Dame team, in 3A, and Miles’ Bangor team, in 5A, expect some stiff competition.  With this year’s districts being an open tournament and a “win or go home” atmosphere, it’ll be a very exciting next two weeks in the Lehigh Valley.

2)  As far as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Nazareth wrestling already has captured the District 11 3A individual title, with the “Super Regional” tournament coming up this weekend.  Also, the Nazareth girls basketball team heads into their postseason action as the team to beat in 6A.

What drives these teams and what are their goals over the next several weeks?  Hopefully, you watched our “SportsTalk” show featuring both of these teams back in January so you already know what drives them and also heard some great stories about their close knit programs. 

Don’t forget, RCN customers can see all previous shows over the last two months for free through RCN on demand.

3)  Speaking of District XI basketball, their playoffs will have several new wrinkles this year as the pandemic has drastically changed the postseason requirements and formats. District Basketball Chair Ray Kinder will be on this week’s “SportsTalk” to breakdown all the changes and talk about what administrators went through to put this winter’s basketball tournament together.

And by the way, the perception that the Easton basketball teams willingly chose to “opt out” of this year’s district playoffs is not the case. More on that story in next week’s blog…

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It’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

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 this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Easton

2) Northampton

3) Central Catholic

4) Parkland

5)  Allen

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

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as there continues to be changes from day to day!

 

I Tried

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.

When I wrote my “New Year’s resolution” blog, one of my goals was to not ask the question, “What’s for dinner?”  I truly understood how difficult and irritating it must be to come up with something to eat EVERY single night.

Since writing that, I have discovered this is almost a universal irritant for both sexes – most men really look forward to eating a good meal and most spouses hate to constantly have that responsibility.  Therefore, I sought a solution.

There are many complete meal services out there.  They deliver a set number of meals every week.  Some just send the ingredients and preparation instructions; others send complete meals with microwave instructions.  I chose to try the latter.  I will not give the company name for reasons that will become obvious.

I placed an order for six meals to be delivered on February 1.  That would take care of three dinners for the two of us that week.  You use their packaging; pop the dinners in the microwave for three minutes; let it sit for two minutes and eat.  No fuss and no muss – perfect!

On Monday, February 1, we had a major snowstorm.  I was informed that our meals would not arrive until the following day due to road conditions.  I understood the problem.  They credited my account for $10.50 and apologized.

On Tuesday, February 2, I received word that our meals would not be delivered that day either.  Again, the problem was weather-related.

On Wednesday, February 3, via email, we were asked to pick out our meals for the following week.  I called customer service to explain that we still had not been able to try our first order and that I was apprehensive to order again until I was satisfied that this was a good idea.  They understood and put us on “Pause” for the following week.

Later that day, just before dinner, our six meals arrived.  We were excited to open the package and dine.  We did and the two meals we chose for that night were quite good.  I then received the following email which said, in part,

“We’re sorry to say we won’t be able to deliver your order in time this week. Because of this delay, your meals will have been unrefrigerated for an amount of time that makes them unsafe to eat. To not further inconvenience you, we have asked the carrier to discard your package, although there’s a chance it will still arrive. If this happens, please dispose of the meals without eating them.”

We certainly could not abide by the “without eating them” part; we had already eaten one.  The other meals looked fine so for the next two days, we ate the rest of them.  We are still alive.  They refunded our money for those meals.

We scheduled our next delivery for Monday, February 15.  They arrived.  The problem this time was that two of the six were meals we did not order.  And, we did not care for the substituted meals at all.  I, again, went on their chat site.  They again apologized, refunded some money and promised to do better.

Monday, February 22, was up next.  We ordered six meals again.  Two emails arrived confirming two separate orders of six meals each!  Twelve meals were scheduled to arrive on February 22.  Back to the chat room I went, explaining that I had only ordered six meals.  They said I had been assigned two memberships and they chose the other six meals for me.  I saw they had billed me twice and they promised to credit my account.  I said I would accept the meals we had ordered.

At that point, I canceled my subscription.  Or should I say, subscriptions, since they sent me two emails to say Goodbye for now

On Monday, February 22, our meals arrived – not six, but 12!!  Two that I had ordered, but the steak dinners were not included.

I wanted desperately to make life a bit easier for my wife.  It did not work out.

No one can say that I didn’t try.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. As the Phillies and MLB starts their spring training, it is apparent that the Phils find themselves in one of, if not, the toughest division in baseball – the NL East. The Mets are revamped under new ownership; the Braves are the defending champs; the Washington Nationals won the World Series two years ago; and the Miami Marlins made the postseason last year.  All five teams look like contenders.
  1. The 76ers’ Joel Embiid scored 42 points in a game this week against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is averaging 30 points a game and 11.4 rebounds.  If he stays healthy, along with Ben Simmons, the Sixers should contend for a championship.
  1. The District basketball brackets came out on Saturday amid some surprises. Both the Easton girls and Easton boys opted out of the playoffs.  Both had very good records – the girls were 7-2 and the boys were also 7-2.  Both would have been seeded quite high.  The Stroudsburg girls team also declined to play.  Covid continues to rear its ugly head.
  1. The Colonial League opted to have basketball championships this year, even though the EPC decide against it. The Colonial League crowned the Northwestern girls and the Bangor boys after their wins on Friday night.  Congratulations on not only winning the title, but maintaining Covid protocols that allowed your teams to play.
  1. The District basketball tournament begins this week with Pigtail and quarterfinal rounds. We will have high school games on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday, the Patriot League playoffs begin.  The Lafayette men play on Saturday in a quarterfinal game.  RCN-TV will bring the games to you.

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Flip Wilson

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 part of RCN’s celebration of Black History Month, we here at the “Showplace” are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

Born Clerow Wilson, Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey, “Flip” was one of 10 children in his family who spent most of their childhood going from different foster homes.  As a 16- year old, Wilson lied about his age and joined the United States Air Force. His outgoing personality and funny stories made him popular — he was even asked to tour military bases to cheer up other servicemen. Claiming that he was always “flipped out”, Wilson’s barracks mates gave him the nickname “Flip” which he used as his stage name.

Discharged from the Air Force in 1954, Wilson started working as a bellhop in San Francisco’s Manor Plaza Hotel. At the Plaza’s nightclub, Wilson borrowed a technique from a very young Charlie Chaplin by finding extra work playing a drunk patron in between regularly scheduled acts. His inebriated character proved popular and Wilson began performing it in clubs throughout California. At first, Wilson would simply ad-lib onstage, but eventually he added written material and his act became more sophisticated.

Wilson perfected his comedy routines over the next decade, performing in larger and more well-known establishments, as well as landing guest starring appearances on television.

One of Flip Wilson’s funniest guest starring roles was playing the role of “Prissy” in a spoof of Gone with the Wind, opposite Lucille Ball as “Scarlett.”  He also made guest appearances on television’s biggest stages, like The Dean Martin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

In 1970, Wilson won a Grammy Award for his comedy album “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.”  When NBC was looking to capitalize on the variety TV show format, Wilson became an obvious choice to pilot his own program.

The Flip Wilson Show debuted in 1970 and was an instant hit.

In its first year the show catapulted to the top of the Nielsen ratings — finishing as the second most watched overall show during the 1970-71 season.  The series earned Wilson a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards, and at one point was the second highest rated show on network television. Wilson was the first African American to host a successful TV variety show (the multi-talented Sammy Davis also hosted a variety show in 1966 but the program suffered from poor ratings and was canceled after just one season.)

Probably the most popular character created on the show was Wilson’s portrayal of Geraldine Jones (which was Wilson dressed as a woman). Some of “Geraldine’s” most famous quotes are, “The Devil made me buy this dress!”, “Don’t you touch me, honey, you don’t know me that well! You devil, you!” and “What you see is what you get!”

Wilson also signed many popular singers to provide entertainment. African-American performers appeared on the show, such as Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Charley Pride, Johnny Mathis, Melba Moore, Roberta Flack and groups like The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Pointer Sisters and The Supremes.

 

Wilson also featured many African American entertainers, ranging from comic great Redd Foxx to basketball legend Bill Russell.

 

Wilson recaptured the magic as the second season of his variety show also finished the year as the number two most-watched show in America.

 

In January 1972, Time magazine featured Wilson’s image on its cover and named him “TV’s first black superstar.”

 

Flip Wilson won one Golden Globe award in 1971 and received two other nominations in 1972 and 1973 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical. The Flip Wilson Show received an additional Golden Globe nomination in 1972 for Best Television Series—Comedy or Musical.

 

The show maintained solid viewership numbers for its third year but slipped out of the top 30 during its fourth year and the ratings never recovered.

 

In 1979, Wilson made the decision to cut down on his performance schedule in order to spend quality time with his five children.

 

In 1984, Wilson hosted a revival of the show, People are Funny.  In 1985–1986, Wilson played the lead role in the CBS sitcom, Charlie & Co. Two of his last TV appearances were cameos on the sitcoms Living Single in 1993 and The Drew Carey Show in 1996.

 

Wilson died in 1998 from liver cancer at the much too young age of 64.

 

You can see one of Wilson’s most memorable television guest starring appearances on The Lucy Show on RCN TV.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

HOOPS POLLS: 2/23/21

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.

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls…

1)  District 11 announced its schedule and sites for its upcoming postseason events for its individual wrestling tournaments coming up for the 2A and 3A classifications:

Regional Wrestling Tournaments (Feb. 27):
AA – Central Dauphin East HS
AAA – The Charles Chrin Community Center of Palmer Township

East Super Regional Wrestling Tournaments (March 6):
AA – Pottsville Area HS
AAA – Quakertown HS

The state tournament will once again be held at the Hershey Arena. In addition to this week’s regionals, last week’s 2A district championships were held at a unique location – the Charles Chrin Community Center. It certainly has been a strange winter sports season!

2) Before the basketball playoffs get underway later this week, we discussed many of the teams in the Lehigh Valley on the latest “SportsTalk” show.

Here’s a sample…

VIDEO: Keith’s Take on Top Lehigh Valley Teams

See the entire discussion this Thursday at 7pm and 9pm on RCN-TV to hear more from on the local hoops scene!

3)  Justin Paz gave one of the top performances by a point guard a few years ago at Bethlehem Catholic and is now having success at the next level at East Stroudsburg University. However, there’s another rising guard with the Golden Hawks, Edixson Gomez, who reminds me a lot of Paz in his junior year. Gomez sports an explosive first step, great court vision and is developing into an excellent passer. In a year where there’s a ton of outstanding guard play, keep an eye on Gomez for the remainder of this year and as one of the top returning guards for 2022.

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It’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area. With the reduced schedules and many of our teams staying mostly “in country” with their opponents this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this plan for our polls will keep things interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

With no eastern Pennsylvania conference playoffs this winter, our polls will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

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 this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Easton 

2) Central Catholic

3) Northampton

4) Parkland

5) Bethlehem Catholic

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)   Northwestern

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Bangor

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

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently. With several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day!

The Twilight Zone

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.

I assume some of you remember The Twilight Zone and I, also, assume most of you do not.  It was a TV show created by Rod Serling and the stories were, at various times, science fiction, absurd, fantasy, horror, and suspense.  The stories would conclude with an unexpected twist, and Serling would end the program with a moral to the story.  I know many do not know the program because it ran from 1959 to 1964.  It did make three comebacks with the latest being on CBS All Access in 2019.  I have not seen the new ones.  I was an avid viewer of the old ones.

I bring it up because this athletic season often makes me feel like I am in the Twilight Zone.  Let me use this week as an example.  Our sports schedule finally looked somewhat normal – We would do college basketball on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday; high school basketball on Friday; and high school wrestling on Sunday.

I assigned the announcers for Friday’s high school game and the wrestling for Sunday.  The task ahead for me would be to write my blog, prepare for the two college games, do the two halftime interviews on Zoom, and attend a company staff meeting.  A full week, but one that felt almost like a normal, pre-Covid week.

And then we hit The Twilight Zone.

I wrote the blog on Sunday and Monday; prepared for the Lafayette men’s weekend game on Monday and Tuesday.  On Wednesday, there was a staff meeting and I watched the Lafayette women play Navy on ESPN+ in order to scout them for Sunday.  Thursday was prep day for the women’s game.  It was, also, another day of snow.

The snow led to the cancellation of Friday night’s high school basketball game.  We had scheduled around 10 high school games this season, but were able to do only three.  The announcers prepared for all ten.  The crew prepared to work all ten.

On Friday, around 5:00, I was informed that the college weekend games were not going to be played due to Covid problems at Bucknell.  Neither the Bucknell men nor the Bucknell women would be able to play their games. Those game preps needed to be scrapped.

I was, also, informed that the Patriot League was attempting to match both Lafayette teams with another opponent.  Of course, that meant preparation for two new teams in a very short period of time.  Around 10:00 PM, the decision was made that the Lafayette women would play Lehigh on Monday and the Lafayette men would not play at all.  They might play in the middle of next week.

In addition, the Lafayette women would play at Lehigh on Sunday, so final game prep could not occur until after the Sunday game since all stats and summaries would have to be updated.

Thank goodness the wrestling was wrestled on Sunday.

Rod Serling would always warn the viewers at the beginning of the TV show that they were entering The Twilight Zone.  I would rather have him tell me how to get out of it.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Carson Wentz is no longer an Eagle. He is now an Indianapolis Colt reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, the Colts’ head coach.  After thanking his teammates and the city of Philadelphia, he finished with, “As one chapter closes, another one begins”.
  1. Speaking of ex-Eagles, Desean Jackson was released this past Friday. After a great start in game one this year with two 50+ yard TD catches, Jackson missed 11 more games with an injured ankle.  In 2019, he only played in three games.  He is a great talent, but, too often, he was not on the field.  Alshon Jeffery is probably the next Eagle to go.
  1. Former Phillies pitcher, Jake Arrieta signed with his old team, the Chicago Cubs, this week. Arrieta never lived up to expectations as a Phillie. His ERA climbed each year of the three years he was in Philadelphia from 3.96 in 2018 to 5.08 in 2020.  Due to health issues, he was never able to provide the Phillies with a consistent winner. He returns to the team he was with when he won the Cy Young Award.
  1. This past Saturday, 76er, Joel Embiid scored a career high 50 points, had 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks.  He is currently averaging 30.5 points a game.  He makes Philadelphia an NBA championship contender.
  1. The Colonial League championship basketball games will be on RCN on Friday night. Districts basketball begins on March 2.  Hopefully, the games will get played!

 

 

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 part of RCN’s celebration of Black History Month, we here at the “Showplace” are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

“The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within – strength, courage, dignity, the greatest gift is not being afraid to question. God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.”   — Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee provided inspiration throughout her life as an actress, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, poet and civil rights activist.  Her courage to portray powerful women and speak out against injustice has produced some of the most powerful quotes ever seen on the screen or in print.

Dee was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922 and was raised in Harlem New York attending Hunter college high School and later Hunter College, majoring in romance language.  

Dee joined the American Negro Theater as an apprentice, working there with fellow future legends Sidney Poitier (with whom she would reunite to collaborate with on several projects during their careers) and Harry Belafonte.  After appearing on Broadway for many productions, her first onscreen role was in That Man of Mine in 1946. Dee received national recognition for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story.  In 1965, Dee became the first African American actress to tackle leading roles at the American Shakespeare Festival as Kate in The Taming of the Shrew and Cordelia in King Lear.

Furthermore, she participated in various television projects and wrote books, short stories and poetry works, among them include “The Original Read-In For Peace For Vietnam,” “What If I Am A Woman (Volume 1 and 2),” “Tough Poems For Tough People,” To Make A Poet Black” and “To Be A Slave,” (the latter three projects co-written with her husband / actor Ossie Davis.)

She also participated in numerous civil right events, protests, marches and was a predominant speaker, speaking out against prejudice, racism and injustices.  Dee was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1963, Dee emceed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom…

“There was so much meanness in the atmosphere, but marvelous things pierce through the darkness of poverty and racism. You meet all kinds of people that help put life in perspective and turn the heart into some kind of lesson or avenue of awakening that lives with you all of your days.”

For the next several decades, Dee continued her work on the screen, in print and as an active voice for civil rights.

In 1970, she won the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League, a nonpartisan organization advocating for economic and social justice for African Americans and speaking out against racial discrimination.

Dee was nominated for eight Emmy Awards and continued guest starring on television series and was featured in various films in the 1980s and 90s including Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever.

In 1995, both Dee and her husband were awarded the National Medal of Arts.  In 1999, Dee and Davis were arrested in New York City, protesting the police shooting of Amadou Diallo.  In 2003, she narrated a series of WPA slave narratives for the HBO Films.

Dee was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Mama Lucas in American Gangster — and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for that same performance.

Her seven decade acting career crossed all major forms of media, including the film, A Raisin in the Sun, in which she recreated her stage role as a suffering housewife in the projects, and Edge of the City. She played both roles opposite Poitier.

“The world has improved mostly because unorthodox people did unorthodox things … not surprisingly they had the courage and daring to think they could make a difference.”

You can see Ruby Dee starring in The Jackie Robinson Story on RCN TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

KEITH’S RETURN

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.

 

Fans of “RCN SportsTalk” and of Lehigh Valley basketball know that SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller was diagnosed with COVID-19 in December and has had some difficulty overcoming that horrible illness.

No one had been more outspoken during the pandemic in promoting the high school games to continue over the last year.  Without delving into too much detail, it is pretty clear that he did NOT contract the disease by covering local sports events.  That being said, this awful sickness has been a significant setback for Keith and his recovery over the last few months has been much more drawn out than anyone would have liked.

This week, Keith makes his triumphant return to our program and talks for a segment about his ordeal over the last three months and also how his own experience now influences his thoughts on how high school sports should proceed going forward.

Yes, I’ll also be talking sports with him–getting his thoughts on this unusual winter scholastic season, some of the standout performances thus far and his players and teams to watch over the final two weeks of the regular season.

Tune in to hear more insights from Keith, along with our special guests from the Notre Dame basketball team on this week’s show.  The Crusaders posted some of the biggest wins so far this season, including a victory over the defending District XI 6A champions from Allen High School.

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A few other news items for Lehigh Valley sports fans that we’ll talk about on this Thursday’s show…

After a plan was in place and was ALMOST approved, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference decided to scrap its plan for a basketball playoffs.

The fact that a few schools like Liberty and Freedom, who, at the time the EPC cancelled their post-season, had played just two games COMBINED, really tied the hands of the league officials to conduct a fair playoff format.  With some schools playing well over a dozen games so far while other schools from the Poconos have also been limited in terms of games played, the decision to cancel the tournament seems to make sense.  The decision allows the schools that have been severely sidelined the chance to make up some of those postponed games during the last two weeks of February.

Also, the District XI decision to have all other games completed by February 26 and in time for their tourney to begin at the beginning of March, made it even tougher for the EPC to try to squeeze in their own post-season event.

The Colonial League, meanwhile, has been adamant since Day One that they were going to conduct a post-season event for their teams.

What’s the latest on their plans?  Which might be the Colonial teams to keep an eye on over the next month?  And what are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on over the next several weeks?

Tune in to this Thursday’s show at 7pm to find out.  (RCN customers can also watch the show for free On-Demand or set their DVRs to catch the program).

Please Rise for the Playing…

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.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the playing of our National Anthem.”

Since I guesstimate that I have done over 4,500 sporting events in my career and probably watched just as many as a fan, these are words that I have heard and responded to more often than I could possibly have imagined.

Like any fan, I just took it for granted that prior to a game actually beginning, I would rise, along with everyone else, for the playing of our National Anthem.

But this week (and I will tell you why in a bit), I actually pondered how this tradition actually began.  I found this in an article by Matt Soniak:

After America’s entrance into World War I, Major League Baseball games often featured patriotic rituals, such as players marching in formation during pregame military drills and bands playing patriotic songs. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, the band erupted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Cubs and Red Sox players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention. The crowd, already on their feet, began to sing along and applauded at the end of the song.

Given the positive reaction, the band played the song during the next two games, and when the Series moved to Boston, the Red Sox owner brought in a band and had the song played before the start of each remaining contest. After the war (and after the song was made the national anthem in 1931), the song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays, and World Series games.

During World War II, baseball games again became venues for large-scale displays of patriotism, and technological advances in public address systems allowed songs to be played without a band. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games throughout the course of the war, and by the time the war was over, the pregame singing of the national anthem had become cemented as a baseball ritual, after which it spread to other sports.

So why do I bring this up?  Since the start of the NBA season, Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, ordered his team’s home games to start without playing the National Anthem.  This went on for 13 games and, since there were no fans, almost no one noticed.  Once it was brought to the attention of the NBA commissioner, Cuban was directed to play the anthem.  He agreed.

But he made his point – “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country.  But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them.  We feel their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.”

New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted, “If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business.  What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”

So I guess the question is should we play the National Anthem more often, less often, or continue to play it primarily at special events and all sporting events.  Does it polarize, does it lose its effectiveness with constant repetition, or does it need to remind us to offer allegiance to our country?

That is for each one of us to decide individually when the public address announcer utters the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise…”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Eagles want to trade Carson Wentz and most expected that would be accomplished by now. It hasn’t.  Reports are that they are asking too much in return.  If he is traded, they will need a backup and, with the #6 pick in the draft, they might just take another QB, and with a pick that high, it should be a good QB to compete with Jalen Hurts.  First, they must get rid of Wentz.
  1. Think about this – Aaron Rodgers gets a $500,000 bonus if he participates in offseason workouts. He has participated every year.  Surprised?
  1. Remember Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007? He never could do enough to stay in the NFL, so he tried major league baseball.  He’s back on the Mets spring training roster of 75 players.  This is his fourth spring training where he has hit .151 and one home run.  Why?
  1. I hope you happened to watch the LafayetteLoyola men’s basketball game on Saturday. It went four overtimes; lasted 2 hours and fifty minutes and had some outstanding individual performances.  Catch it on RCN Video on Demand.
  1. We will have Central Catholic at Allen for you this Friday and Lafayette-Bucknell Saturday (men) and Sunday (women). We will, also, bring the District individual wrestling championships on Sunday night.  The Colonial League championship basketball games and the Districts are right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Eddie Anderson

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

As part of RCN’s celebration of Black History Month, we here at the “Showplace” are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

Of all the zany and popular comedic characters over the five decades that the Jack Benny Program was on radio and television, none was more popular nor drew as much applause at public events than Eddie “Rochester” Anderson.

Guest starring on an episode of Jack Benny’s radio show in 1936, Benny immediately realized that Anderson’s unique voice, comedic timing and quick-witted return of a line would resonate perfectly with Benny’s “slow burn” style delivery.  Benny immediately hired him as a regular full-time character on his team and, in doing so, Anderson became the first African-American regular cast member on a national medium.

Born in Oakland, California he had early aspirations of performing along with his older brother, Cornelius. In his obituary in the Ludington Daily NewsAnderson described himself as being a descendant of slaves who were able to leave the South during the Civil War through the Underground Railroad.

Anderson “acquired” his famous raspy voice as a child when his vocal cords were ruptured when he was selling newspapers. The newsboys believed those who would shout the loudest sold the most papers. The permanent damage done to his vocal cords left him with his voice now so familiar to radio and television audiences.

No one brought out the cheapness of Benny’s character better (and funnier) than Anderson, who would frequently test the penny-pincher’s budget and deliver rapid-fire lines underscoring just how little he paid his employees:

     “You can split an apple, you can split an atom, but I defy ANYONE to split my salary.”

According to Benny’s memoirs “Sunday Nights At Seven,” he came up with the name “Rochester” because he felt the way he could draw out the syllables of that name.  Anderson liked it so much he incorporated it as a middle name for any future productions, including non-Benny performances.

In 1942 while touring Europe with his entire cast and performing shows for the Allied Forces, Benny met a soldier who claimed to be a fan of the show and began to have dinner together.  During the conversation it became evident that the soldier’s favorite part of the program were jokes using prejudices (eg., drinking gin, playing craps) against people of color that were rampant during the time period.  Benny immediately got up from the table, told the soldier that he is not interested in “that type” of person listening to his show.  Benny then instructed his writers to never use any of those stereotypes nor any jokes that would be considered racist or offend any ethnicity again –  a promise to Anderson he kept through the rest of his career.

Unlike his character’s persona, Anderson was paid handsomely for his role as Rochester and used his regularly increasing salaries to enhance his love for horses, exotic boats and exquisite mansions, taking up residence in the West Adams district in California.

In the 1940s, the African-American entertainment community began purchasing homes in the district, nicknaming it “Sugar Hill.”  According to the website, westadamsheightssugarhill.com, property owners reacted to their new neighbors by adding restrictive covenants to their deeds, prohibiting African-Americans from purchasing a property or inhabiting it once purchased. The practice was later declared illegal by the US Supreme Court and Anderson lived in that mansion until his death in 1977.

Anderson also had an astute business sense.  In 1948, he saw the value and potential of Las Vegas as an entertainment center and wanted to build a hotel where African-Americans would be welcome.  Anderson failed to attract enough people willing to invest, and he was unable to complete the plan.

When the Benny program moved to television in 1949, Anderson appeared more than any other character and was a part of many of the show’s most popular episodes and funniest bits seen on the small screen.

Anderson was featured prominently in the 1963 mega star film It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. While he was given some of the funniest lines in the film, he was the only African American in the entire ensemble cast.

Anderson would make various guest appearances on television shows, including the Benny television specials until his boss’s death in 1974.  Anderson spoke very highly of Benny in memoriam until Anderson’s own death 3 years later.

You can see Anderson’s iconic Rochester character on the Jack Benny Program, along with guest appearances on other classic sitcoms seen on RCN TV.

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