Friday, May 28, 2010

6/3 - Erik Estrada,

Erik Estrada - "Chips"
Erik Estrada has captured the hearts of millions of fans world-wide as a result of his six year run starring as highway patrol officer Frank Poncherello in the highly successful television series, "CHiP's". Also appearing in numerous other television and motion picture roles, the role he most prefers and enjoys is that of a role model to millions of children throughout the world. His success is all the more impressive since he was raised in a section of Manhattan's Upper East Side known as Spanish Harlem. His parents divorced when Erik was only two years old and since then he rarely saw his father. It was his beloved Grandfather who provided him with parental guidance until he passed away.  Assuming the "man of the house" role at age ten was not easy. Erik had to deal with all normal difficulties of growing up, in addition to financial responsibilities at home and encounters with the world of drugs, street gangs and crime that surrounded his life. Through the influence of a family friend, Erik decided at an early age to become a New York City policeman. However, he enrolled in his high school Drama Club to "get close" to a girl he admired and landed the lead role in a play. "I was hooked on acting from that time on. I experienced emotions I had never felt before. I still don't understand it all - I only know that I need to perform. It must be my way of giving to others, and giving to myself at the same time."  Erik's first real acting break came when actor/director Don Murray selected him to star as a streetwise character opposite Pat Boone in the true story, "The Cross and the Switchblade". The movie is still shown every week at about 500 youth centers across the country because of its powerful anti-drug and life-changing message. Following that film, he was convinced that the role of Sergio, a rookie policeman in "The New Centurions" with George C. Scott was perfect for him, but the producers did not agree. Undaunted, Erik borrowed some relentless persistence he finally landed the part. Important roles soon followed in such classic films as "Airport '75" (starring Charlton Heston and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), "Midway" (starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, and Robert Wagner), and "Trackdown", as well as guest starring in virtually every top dramatic television series like "Hawaii Five-O", "Baretta", and "The Six Million Dollar Man". Then came one of the biggest hit shows of the late 70's early 80's, "CHiP's", and within a short time its popularity made Erik an international household name and the "King of Hunkdom". His dark good looks and a gym-buffed physique made him known worldwide as a Latin Lover and "PEOPLE" Magazine named him one of the sexiest bachelors alive... Erik's posters sold by the millions, he was a merchandiser's dream. His face and likeness were on Toys, lunchboxes, collector-cards, puzzles, mugs, t-shirts, towels, teen magazines and Fan Clubs etc. To this day he receives bundles of fan mail from all over the world where audiences love 'Ponch' and families enjoy the wholesome police drama.  During a seasonal "CHiP's" hiatus he starred and produced the NBC Movie of the week "Honey Boy" for his own production company, the story was a ratings knockout and was about boxing, ambition, betrayal, and forbidden love. Estrada played a young fighter who gets discovered by beautiful Morgan Fairchild. And it isn't long before Erik's romantically involved with her. (Once again audiences loved Erik and the movie won critical acclaim). The movie was noted for some of the best fight scenes ever on the screen done by Ron Stein, who did the boxing sequences in "Rocky III" and "Raging Bull". When "CHiP's" completed its six year run, Erik took the opportunity to return to his acting roots in New York to star in a successful limited engagement in the off-Broadway production of "True West" at the famed Cherry Lane Theater.  Off-screen he resides in the lovely Hollywood Hills and is the proud father of two sons, Anthony Erik and Brandon Michael-Paul. Erik enjoys running, tennis, golf and daily workouts at the gym. Erik is now happily married to his third wife and the love of his life, Nanette Mirkovich with whom he has abeautiful daughter named Francesca.  In '99 Estrada and old friend Larry Wilcox returned astride their police motorcycles for a TNT movie reunion of "CHiP's". "I always loved Ponch", Estrada says. "It was so much fun for me to be him, to put on my duds, get on that bike and bust the bad guys, help out the kids, and to get the babes." In the year 2000, Erik was named the international 'Face' of D.A.R.E. which is a campaign against drugs. Erik is devoted to making children see that staying away from drugs is 'cool', and that there really can be 'role models' for children of all ages. He also became spokesperson for the C.H.P.'s "car seat inspection and installation" program. Erik is promoting child safety seats & key safety tips. He also speaks out for the 'Heart Association' and 'The United Way'. In 2004 Erik starred in the controversial reality series Surreal Life with Tammy Faye, Vanilla Ice & Ron Jeremy, the series was the highest rated VH1 & WB series ever made.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5/27 - Loni Anderson,

Loni Anderson - Actress
A buxom, bedimpled, pert-nosed knockout, Loni Anderson took an assured place on one of the TV sex symbol pedestals during the late 70s and early 80s. A breakout hit in her Emmy-nominated role as "Jennifer Marlowe" on the TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" (1978), she later became a soap-styled fixture in mini-movies. All eyes were peeled on this worthy pin-up who helped to bring back the glossy platinum-blonde allure of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. A stylish, highly appealing actress whose hourglass figure and piled-on, bleached-blonde mane belied an enviable IQ, Loni strove for much more as she tried to parlay her newly found fame into a viable dramatic career. She met with a measured degree of success as she recreated the lives of such artificial sex sirens as Mansfield and Thelma Todd on TV, but got bogged down in TV-movie retellings of famous movie classics (Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Leave Her to Heaven (1945)) that couldn't help but pale in comparison. This attempt at seriousness was further hampered by messy tabloid headlines in her private life.  Loni Kaye Anderson was born with very dark (jet black) hair in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1946. An art student at the University of Minnesota, she entered (and won) beauty contests on the sly (including a "Miss Minnesota" runner-up placing in 1964). Married and divorced before she reached the age of 21, Loni took on a teaching position to support herself and baby daughter (Deidre) while completing college. Developing an interest in acting, she went the route many aspiring thespians do -- apprenticing in local commercials and theater shows. Still dark-haired, she played in several early 70s productions such as "Born Yesterday" (as Billie Dawn), "Send Me No Flowers", "Can-Can" and "The Star-Spangled Girl". She even played "Tzeitel" in "Fiddler on the Roof" and appeared in a production of "The Threepenny Opera".  Re-married in 1973 (to another actor, Ross Bickell), the couple decided to move away from Minnesota to Los Angeles in 1975 and actively pursue film and TV work. Pounding the proverbial pavement, she eventually went blonde and this, plus her gorgeous looks, helped her to secure minor but sexy roles on such shows as "S.W.A.T." (1975), "Police Woman" (1974), "Barnaby Jones" (1973), "Three's Company" (1977) and "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972). By the time she nabbed the "Jennifer" role on "WKRP" (and, with it, two Emmy nominations), she had grown quite admirably as an actress.  She and Howard Hesseman became the breakway stars of the TV sitcom and Loni skyrocketed to sexy status. On the other hand, her instant fame led to the breakup of her second marriage in 1981. Loni found hit-and-miss success outside the parameters of her comedy series. She was front-and-center in a number of TV-movies, notably playing tragic Hollywood sex sirens Jayne Mansfield in The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980) (TV), opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger as her muscle-bound husband Mickey Hargitay, and Thelma Todd, in White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd (1991) (TV), whose untimely death in 1935 is still questioned. Loni also appeared lusciously alongside Bob Hope, brightening up several of his classic TV specials. On the minus side, she fizzled in her teaming up with equally sexy "Wonder Woman" (1975) star Lynda Carter in the tepid, short-lived series "Partners in Crime" (1984) and then played a former Las Vegas showgirl who inherits a bundle in the sitcom misfire "Easy Street" (1986). She also was given a chance to work in feature films such as Stroker Ace (1983). While her performance in that film was panned, it did have her meeting and co-starring opposite megastar Burt Reynolds.  Appearing in routine, mini-movie soap operas (via her own production company), if anything, kept Loni in the public eye as a serious-minded actress, but it was an uphill battle to rise above her manufactured image as a fantasy bombshell. Not helping things was her high-profile marriage to Reynolds in 1988, which began blissfully enough (and produced adopted son Quinton), then dissolved quickly into a nasty divorce that damaged the reputations of both stars.  In recent years, Loni has shown incredible perseverance. As always, the stalwart beauty continues to play up the glam but has since downplayed the dramatics. She seems more focused these days on having innocuous fun, playing a number of hearty vixens in sitcoms and series guest spots. Over time, she has enjoyed such lightweight sitcoms as "Nurses" (1991), "The Mullets" (2003) and as Tori Spelling's materialistic mom in "So noTORIous" (2006), which did not get the seal of approval from Tori's real-life mom.

Monday, May 17, 2010

5/20 - Rich Little

Rich Little - Legendary Entertainer
U.S. Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both George Bushes...Rich Little has an impression of each of them.   Infamous for his skewing of political figures, Little has charmed, amused, annoyed, and lampooned politicians from here to his native Canada. He entertained at the Reagan inaugurals and spent much of 2003 touring the United States with his show The Presidents.  A master mimic of over 200 voices, Little continues to impress in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Reno, Hawaii, Chicago, New York, and London. A professed classic movie buff, he's particularly fond of doing Alan Ladd (his hero as a kid) and others who are no longer generally remembered, but Little has also latched on to Baby Boomer-friendly characters like Edith Bunker, Kermit the Frog, Robin Leach, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, just to name a few.  Some of his favorite current stars are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, and Clint Eastwood. "They're easy to do," he says. "They are larger than life."  Little says,"an impression is what you think a person sounds like. It could be an exaggeration or a cartoon. It's your impression. I think of an impersonation as more of an exact copy. Knowing the person personally is not important; it's knowing the speech patterns and mannerisms [in order] to imitate the person the way the public sees him." It took him seven years to perfect Frank Sinatra, but only several minutes to mimic Dr. Ruth.  The son of a doctor in Ottawa, Canada, Rich started his "career" at the age of 12 when he answered back to his teachers in their own voices. Observing the teachers in action was infinitely more fun than paying attention to classwork. To get dates, he'd find out the girl's favorite actor, then call her up imitating that actor's voice. Then when Rich showed up, he'd say, "Sorry, Cary can't make it."  Rich's first appearances were in a small club in Canada. "I got booked into this place in Quebec, and when I started my act, I discovered that no one in the audience understood English. It was strictly a French-speaking audience." He figured he was dead until an inspiration hit him. "I did walks . . . Jack Benny's walk, Bob Hope's walk, John Wayne's walk. They all walk the same in French as in English," he recalls. While working as a disc jockey and talk show host, for one April Fools Day marathon he had "Jimmy Durante" emcee the morning show; "James Mason" was a rock 'n' roll deejay; and "Elvis Presley" hosted an afternoon program. Like the infamous 1939 broadcast of "War of the Worlds," 500 autograph-hungry Elvis-believing fans besieged the station, thinking the King was really there.  While still in his early 20's, Little was "discovered" in the United States. His friend, singer Mel Torme, then on the musical team of CBS' The Judy Garland Show, asked him to make a tape. Instead of the usual impressions, he did Fred MacMurray, Dana Andrews, James Mason and Van Heflin,"the kinds of people nobody did." Garland thought it was "great" and Little was signed for the show.
Appearances on TV variety shows starring Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Glen Campbell, and Dean Martin followed, as well as on such series as Laugh-In, The John Davidson Summer Show, and The Julie Andrews Show. Little had his own variety show in the 70's. He also was an early guest host on that TV staple, The Tonight Show, hosting 12 times. He was the star of the TV show KopyKats. Rich Little became a household name sitting in one of the Hollywood Squares and has also appeared on the Oak Ridge Boys Variety Special. He was named "Comedy Star of the Year" by the American Guild of Variety Artists. The perpetrator of nine comedy albums and three HBO comedy specials, Rich Little's Christmas Carol with "W.C. Fields" as Scrooge, "Humphrey Bogart" as one of the ghosts and "Paul Lynde" as Bob Cratchit won an Emmy, among other awards.  His latest appearance on HBO was as Johnny Carson in the movie The Late Shift, which dealt with the race to succeed Carson on The Tonight Show. Little has appeared on the daytime soaps The Young and the Restless and Santa Barbara. He has made dramatic guest shots on Fantasy Island, Chips, Murder She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, Police Woman, and Mannix.  In a GQ fashion spread, Little was pictured as Richard Nixon, Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant, George Burns, Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart. In an Oscar pre-cast of ABC's Primetime (with Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson) he spoofed classic movies, proposing how they would end with different casts, starring Little as "Bette Midler" as Scarlett O'Hara and "Arnold Schwarzenegger" as Hamlet.  Little's expert impressions have also been used seriously, as when he stepped in for stars who were unable to do their own redubbings on soundtracks. David Niven's vocal cords were gone due to illness in his last film, Curse of the Pink Panther. Peter Sellers himself was gone by the end of The Trail of the Pink Panther. Little provided both voices for these films. The TV series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer needed voice-over narrations on three shows, but star Stacey Keach was unable to finish them. Rich Little was called in to finish the job. He also did Gene Kelly for a Christmas special when Kelly lost his voice.  His greatest fear? A sore throat. "Other people get a cold, and they just get a cold. I get a cold and John Wayne gets a cold, Orson Welles gets a cold, Nixon gets a cold, Truman Capote gets a cold. No correction, Truman gets the sniffles. I get a cold and it's all over."  Over the years Rich Little has been active with children's charities and he was co-host of the Canadian division of the Children's Miracle Network. He was inducted into the Miami Children's Hospital International Pediatrics Hall of Fame for his tireless efforts in fundraising on behalf of children. In June of 1998 Rich Little added his star to the Canadian Walk of Fame to go along with his current star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Though still a Canadian citizen, Rich lives in Las Vegas with his wife Marie. He has one daughter Lyndsay who has beautiful brown eyes like her father. She is a going to school to become a Legal Secretary. Rich and Marie are very proud of her.

Monday, May 10, 2010

5/13 - Fred Dryer

Fred Dryer talks with Bob Conrad this week!
John Frederick "Fred" Dryer (born July 6, 1946 in Hawthorne, California) is an American actor and former football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). Dryer played 13 years in the NFL, playing 176 games, starting 166, and recording 104 career sacks with the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.
Following his retirement from football, Dryer had a successful career as a film and television actor, notably starring in the series Hunter. Dryer is the only NFL player to score two safeties in one game. Prior to the start of his show business career, Dryer flexed his acting muscles when he helped cover Super Bowl IX for SPORT magazine. Fed up with the grandiose and self-important nature of the NFL's championship match, then-editor Dick Schaap hired Dryer and Rams teammate Lance Rentzel for this journalistic assignment. Donning costumes inspired by The Front Page, "Scoops Brannigan" (Dryer)  "CubbyO'Switzer" (Rentzel) peppered players and coaches from both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings with questions that ranged from clichéd to downright absurd. This became the inspiration for the eccentricities that surround Media Day at the Super Bowl.[9][10] Dryer also briefly served as a color analyst on CBS's NFL coverage in 1981. In the early 80's when producers/ creators Glen Charles, Les Charles and James Burrows were developing the soon-to-be hit sitcom, Cheers, Dryer, along with two other actors, was considered for the role of lead character, Sam Malone. Ted Danson ultimately won the role, but Dryer later appeared as sportscaster (and former Red Sox teammate of Sam's) Dave Richards in the episodes "Sam at Eleven", "Old Flames", "Love Thy Neighbor", and "'I' On Sports".  Dryer's best-known acting role came in the 1980s television crime drama Hunter, in which he costarred with Stepfanie Kramer. Dryer also starred in the action-thriller movie Death Before Dishonor as well as Mike Land in the TV series Land's End (21 episodes, 1995–1996). He is also the only actor, so far, to portray legendary DC Comics military hero Sgt. Rock, during his appearance on Justice League. Dryer got married in May 1983 (divorced in 1988) to actress and Playboy centerfold Tracy Vaccaro,[11] who also worked with him on Hunter and Land's End. Together, they have at least one daughter.[11] Dryer stills resides in Los Angeles and has his own production company (Fred Dryer Productions).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

5/6 - Alex McCord

Alex McCord - The Real Housewives of New York City
Alex McCord is a busy gal-on-the-go, juggling her career with being the mother of two boys, François and Johan, a wife to her devoted husband and constant sidekick Simon van Kempen, and a thriving social calendar. Alex comes into her own this season, finding a new voice and no longer choosing to stay quiet and ignore the antics of others. Born in D.C. and raised in Kansas, Texas and the US Virgin Islands, Alex attended Northwestern University. A New Yorker for 14 years and counting, she spent 10 of those years working hard at two careers, graphic design and acting. After the birth of her children, Alex made the tough decision to leave theatre in favor of expanding her design and retail operations career and went back to work full time for Victoria’s Secret. With the economy in freefall, Alex was laid off in early 2009, and found a silver lining by going into business for herself. She quickly landed high-end designer consignment chain Second Time Around as a client, as well as Manhattan’s oldest camera store, Willoughby’s, where she will unveil an in-store showroom renovation with Pentax and Leica this spring. This year also is big for Alex and Simon both with the birth of another kind of baby, the book they wrote together, Little Kids, Big City, out in April. With both their boys in school, Alex and Simon can now enjoy their recent home renovation project – their Brooklyn dream home is complete.

The Real Housewives of New York City follows the busy lives of a group of driven and ambitious Manhattan women as they juggle their demanding careers and motherhood and navigate the wonderful world of jam-packed social calendars, children and city life.