Thursday, July 28, 2011

7/28 Robert Conrad Talks with Joan Van Ark and YOU!!!!

Joan Van Ark, just out of high school, was the second youngest student to attend the Yale School of Drama on a scholarship. The youngest was Julie Harris. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Years later, they would co-star on the CBS Television series, "Knots Landing" (1979). Van Ark began her professional career at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater in Moliere's "The Miser", opposite Hume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell. That was followed by "Death of a Salesman" at the Guthrie with both Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Joan was cast in the national touring company of "Barefoot in the Park", directed by Mike Nichols. She recreated the role in the critically acclaimed London Company and later on Broadway. She earned a Tony nomination for her performance in "The School for Wives" and she won the Theater World Award for "The Rules of the Game".

Van Ark also appeared off-Broadway opposite John Rubinstein in "Love Letters". More recently, she co-starred in the New York production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning play "Three Tall Women". Her Los Angeles theater credits include "Cyrano de Bergerac", playing "Roxanne" opposite Richard Chamberlain's "Cyrano", "Ring Around the Moon" with Michael Yorkand Glynis Johns, "Chemin de Fer", "Heartbreak House" and "As You Like It", for which she won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award. She also appeared as "Lady Macbeth" in the Grove Shakespeare Festival's production of "Macbeth". Van Ark has also starred in the Williamstown Theater Festival productions of "Night of the Iguana", "The Legend of Oedipus" and the festival's 40th anniversary production of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music".

She is perhaps best known for her role as "Valene Ewing" beginning on "Dallas" (1978) and then on the spin-off series, "Knots Landing" (1979). During the 13 seasons as "Val", she earned six nominations and two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress. Joan also starred in the TV comedies, "The New Temperatures Rising Show" (1972) and "We've Got Each Other" (1977). In May 1997, she reprieved her role of "Valene" in the CBS mini-series, "Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac" (1997). Most recently, she guest-starred in an episode of "The Nanny" (1993), which was specially written for her. Van Ark's television movie credits include When the Dark Man Calls (1995) (TV), Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception (1994) (TV), In the Shadows, Someone's Watching (1993) (TV) (actor/producer), Boys Will Be Boys (1999) (TV) (actor/director), Terror on Track 9 (1992) (TV), Tainted Blood (1993) (TV), Menu for Murder (1994) (TV), Always Remember I Love You (1990) (TV), My First Love (1988) (TV) and Shakedown on the Sunset Strip (1988) (TV).

She was also one of the voices for CBS-TV's Saturday morning cartoon series "Santo Bugito" (1995) and she provided the voice of "Spider-Woman" (1979), another Saturday morning series. In 1997, Joan directed a short documentary on homelessness and domestic violence for the Directors Guild of America, which was nominated for an Emmy.

She appeared in the feature film, Held for Ransom (2000), with Dennis Hopper and Debi Mazar. Joan is currently featured in the film, UP, Michigan! (2001), which was entered in the New York Independent Film Festival. According to Film Festival representatives, the screening ofUP, Michigan! (2001) elicited more favorable audience response than any other film throughout the one-week event. Joan also starred as the "Vice President of the United States" in the FOX Family telefilm, Loyal Opposition (1998). Last summer, she played "Camille" in Tennessee Williams' "Camino Real" at the Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. She appeared in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1999), filmed in Toronto. She recently completed filming in Los Angeles of "Son of the Beach" (2000). Joan's career was featured on the biographical program,"Intimate Portrait: Joan Van Ark" (2002), on the Lifetime Channel for Women. She also played two cameo roles in the independent feature films,Net Games (2003) and the soon-to-be-released Diamond Zero (2005) with Tippi Hedren. Joan was featured in "The Vagina Monologues" at the Canon Theater in Beverly Hills. She also opened the national tour of "The Vagina Monologues" in Denver's Center for the Performing Arts.

In May, 2003, she was a celebrity guest actor in the Los Angeles production of "Blackout" at the McCadden Theater in Hollywood. She also appeared in the off-Broadway production of "The Exonerated" at the Bleeker Street Theater in New York. Last spring, Joan appeared in "Five by Tenn" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with Kathleen Chalfant, Patricia Clarkson and Sally Field. It was a world premiere of newly-found Tennessee Williams one-act plays. In addition, she played a regular role for much of last year on CBS Television's "The Young and the Restless" (1973).

Joan appeared in the world premier of Mark O'Donnell's new adaptation of "Private Fittings" by Georges Feydeau at the La Jolla Playhouse near San Diego. The production was directed by Des McAnuff, winner of two Tony Awards.

Joan is still married to her high school sweetheart, John Marshall, a former award-winning TV newsman, who now heads an on-line news service, Their daughter, Vanessa Marshall, is also an accomplished actress, director and comedian.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

7/21 Robert Conrad Talks with Dick Cavett - and YOU!

Television host, comedian, writer. Born Richard Alva Cavette on November 19, 1936 in Gibbon, Nebraska, USA, Dick Cavett studied drama at Yale, then moved to New York where he had various jobs, including being a copy editor at Time Magazine, before gaining work as a comedy scriptwriter. He is best known for his talk show which aired during the 1970s-1980s.

Cavett's success as a comedic writer, particularly for The Tonight Show and The Jerry Lewis Show brought him work as the host of ABC's This Morning (1968) and then for ABC television's late night show (1969–75). Despite critical acclaim, he ran third in the ratings behind his former colleague Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin, which resulted in gradually less frequent airings of the show. He later attracted a loyal following with The Dick Cavett Show on WNET, New York City's public television station (1977–82).

During the course of his career, Cavett has hosted and interviewed a wide range of guests from authors and political figures to musicians and singers and he enjoyed pairing controversial people with opposite views, to dicuss taboo subject matter. Some of his guests included Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Bobby Fischer, Groucho Marx, Lestor Maddox, Orson Welles, Gore Vidal, Marlon Brando, and Muhammad Ali.

John Lennon and Yoko gave Cavett their first interview after the break-up of the Beatles in September 1971, and the couple were featured in two subsequent episodes. Lennon was facing deporation from the U.S. at the time by the Nixon administration -- fueled by drug charges and spurred further by the couple's outspoken participation in anti-war rallies. Cavett went on to testify in John Lennon's defense at his deportation hearing. It was also revealed through Richard Nixon's secret White House tapes, that the president sought to oust Cavett over a debate-style interview between anti-Vietnam War representative John Kerry and pro-war respresentive John E. O'Neill. The tapes contained an exchange by Nixon asking his Chief of Staff how they can "screw" Cavett. Since their public release, this taped conversation can be found on YouTube and other internet sites.

Dick Cavett has also appeared many times as a stand-up comedian on a variety of talk shows, in commercials and occasional in theatre, such as Broadway's Otherwise Engaged and Into the Woods. Other notable appearances in person or clips from his talk show were featured in films such as Annie Hall, Forrest Gump, and in episodes of television series such as The Odd Couple, Cheers, and The Simpsons. Cavett continued his talk show hosting on General Electric's cable channel, CNBC, from 1989 into the 1990s. He's won three Emmy awards for his work. Additionally, he has co-authored two books with Christopher Porterfield. Currently Cavett is a contributing blogger to The New York Times.

During his life, Cavett has struggled with manic despression and has been treated with drugs and electroshock therapy. He openly discusses his condition calling it "the worst agony devised for man." He married actress Carrie Nye in 1964 and the couple remained so until her death in July 2006.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7/14 Robert Conrad Talks with Peter Ford - and YOU!

Peter Ford - Son of Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell

Peter Ford had the good fortune of being the only child of two of Hollywood's most renowned stars, Eleanor Powell, one of MGM’s greatest musical stars, and Glenn Ford, Hollywood's number one box office star of 1958.

At the age of thirty-three, Eleanor Powell gave up her career to take on the new, and according to her, more important role of wife and mother. Giving up her career to be married to a little known actor by the name of Glenn Ford had studio moguls and fans in an uproar. It wasn't until three years after their marriage in 1946 that the public knew who Glenn Ford really was. It was that year that "Gilda" was released, starring Glenn and Rita Hayworth. Glenn Ford became a “star” overnight.

Born in Los Angeles, California on February 5th, 1945, Peter led a childhood of many privileges and opportunities. Peter recalls learning to swim, “When I was five my parents wanted me to learn to swim, so they built an Olympic sized pool in our back yard and my 'swim coach' was an old friend of Mother's, Johnny Weissmuller." For tennis lessons he went to the Beverly Hills Hotel to play with Pancho Segura. Peter honed his golf skills with under the tutelage of the legendary Ben Hogan who was also preparing Glenn to play him in the film, “Follow the Sun”.

In 1946, the family purchased a huge twenty-two room home on Cove Way in Beverly Hills. The previous owner had been Max Steiner, who composed and conducted music for countless films: King Kong, Gone with the Wind, and Casablanca among many others.

Peter recalls, "Because of my Mother’s earlier Broadway career, I met many luminaries of the stage. Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker were regular visitors, as was Al Jolson, who my Mother once briefly dated. One clear memory is of going to “Pickfair” as a child, the social 'watering hole' in those days, “and sitting on Mary Pickford's knee as she told me stories of the days of yore.”

Clark Gable, Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck would come to dinner. Neighbor James Mason was often his baby sitter and Charlie Chaplin, who lived next door, was not the “Little Tramp” but the villain of Peter’s young life when he accidentally killed Peter’s beloved dog, Bill. Pearl Bailey is Peter’s God Mother and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson is his God Father.

In a foot note to Rock and Roll history, Peter was responsible for the Bill Haley and the Comet’s song “Rock Around the Clock” used as the theme song of his father’s film, “Blackboard Jungle” in 1955. Musically precocious, young Peter’s record collection and his recommendations were the source that director Richard Brooks used for this MGM film. This song, that Dick Clark dubbed “the national anthem of rock and roll” ushered in the rock and roll revolution that was to significantly shape American culture.

Peter graduated from Chadwick High School in Palos Verdes, California in 1962. He received an Associates of Arts degree from Santa Monica College in 1966 while pursuing a career as an actor and singer. Under contract to Capitol Records Peter was mentored by the incomparable Nat “King” Cole. Later, recording for Phillips records the release of his single, “Blue Ribbons”, resulted in appearances on many teen music television shows of the era, including American Bandstand, Hullabaloo and Ninth Street West.

He eventually formed his own group, The Creations, who appeared in various local clubs, as well as the Whiskey a Go-Go in San Francisco and the El Cortez Club in Las Vegas.

It is almost a given that the only child of two people in “the business” would try his hand at the same profession. Peter did, working in nearly two dozen-film projects, as an actor and dialogue director. The first film which Father and son worked in together was “Gilda” in 1946 where director Charles Vidor used Peter’s photo to represent Johnny Farrell (Glenn’s role in the film) as a child, and later, “The Americano” in 1954. Peter’s first speaking role was in “The Gazebo” in 1959, one of Glenn's favorite comedies, co-starring Debbie Reynolds. He also appeared in “Pocketful of Miracles”, “Dear Heart”, “Advance to the Rear”, “Fate is the Hunter” and “The Rounders”.

Peter attended USC, and it was there he met his future wife, Lynda Gundersen. Both were English majors. In 1968, Peter graduated, cum laude, with a B.A degree in English. He was accepted at U.S.C. law school, but chose to continue working as an actor and singer. Lynda went on to receive a Masters in Education and became an elementary public school teacher.

Peter and Lynda were married in his Father’s home in December 1970. Their first home was a small apartment in West Hollywood. Peter soon began working at Twentieth Century Fox as a dialogue director and took acting roles on television as well. It was through this work that Peter and Lynda purchased their first home which they remodeled themselves.

Still at Fox in 1972, he was cast as a series regular as well as dialogue director of his father’s new T.V series, “Cade’s County.” Peter appeared as the forensic lab deputy, Peter Odom, in nearly every one of the twenty-four episodes.

In 1973, after Cade’s County ended, Peter joined the Photo Unit of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a Reserve Deputy. Peter rose to the rank of Lieutenant before he retired in 1996 after twenty-two years of public service.

Peter and Lynda’s first child, Aubrey Newton Ford, was born in January 1977. They sold their home and made enough profit to purchase another and remodel that one as well. Eventually it became a pattern. Peter and Lynda decided to put all their energies into buying, remodeling and selling homes. They eventually renovated seven different properties before settling down. Now a licensed contractor, Peter built many custom residential homes for clients.

Peter’s first major home building commission was for Walter and Rita Coblenz, producer of “All the President’s Men” and “The Onion Field”. He took a partner into his company and Blackoak Development Company was born. Peter went on to build and remodel homes for many well known client: producer Steve Tisch, actress Mary Kay Place, producer Jerry Belson, super agent Jeff Berg, Don Simpson, producer of “Top Gun” and “Beverly Hills Cop”, writers Chuck Shyer and Nancy Meyers who wrote “Private Benjamin”, actress Jo Beth Williams, health guru Richard Simmons, actress Sally Kellerman and Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews.

In August 1984, Ryan Welsie Ford was born and their daughter, Eleanor Powell Ford joined the family in July of 1988. In 1989 Peter took over the building company and operated it as a sole proprietorship until his retirement from building in 1996. That company, Blackoak/Ford, was a respected custom residential construction firm. His work has been published in architectural magazines throughout the world. The Schnable House, designed by noted architect Frank Gehry, was voted by the New York Times as one of the “Ten Contemporary American Homes that matter most to Architects”.

Today, Peter and Lynda support many charitable causes. Peter is a Trustee Emeritus of The Americanism Educational League. He’s a student and collector of Native American culture. He has compiled a massive family genealogy which includes many notable patriots from the colonial era. He's a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, Society of Colonial Wars and the Society of the Sons of the Revolution. He collects movie memorabilia from Hollywood's Golden Age, and maintains The Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell Library and Archives. As a writer, he has published numerous articles. He is the author of Glenn Ford: A Life, a definitive biography of his father published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Peter’s various interests led him to KIEV 870 AM radio, where for nearly three years he hosted a popular weekly nighttime political talk show. In the June, 2010 election Peter ran for public office was elected to the Los Angeles Republican Central Committee's 42nd Assembly District. The following December he was unanimously elected as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.

Today, Peter and his wife Lynda, now married more than 40-years, reside in Beverly Hills, California.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7/7 Robert Conrad Talks with Connie Stevens - and YOU!

Born in Brooklyn of Italian and native-American parentage with the unlikely name of Concetta Anna Ingolia, Connie Stevens was raised by grandparents when her parents (both jazz musicians) filed for divorced. She attended Catholic boarding schools in her formative years and a distinct interest in music led to her forming a vocal quartet called "The Foremost" which was comprised of Connie and three men. Those men later became part of The Lettermen.

In Hollywood from 1953, Connie formed yet another vocal group "The Three Debs" while trying to break into films as an extra. Although she managed to co-star in a few mediocre teen dramas such as Young and Dangerous (1957), Eighteen and Anxious (1957), The Party Crashers (1958), and Dragstrip Riot (1958), it was comedian Jerry Lewis who set things in motion by casting the unknown starlet in his comedy Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958). Warner Bros. signed her up for their hot detective series "Hawaiian Eye" (1959) and she was off.

As pert and pretty "Cricket Blake", a slightly flaky and tomboyish singer/photographer, Connie became an instant teen idol -- trendy and undeniably appealing.

A couple of record hits came her way including "Sixteen Reasons" and the novelty song "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb". Connie had the title role in Susan Slade (1961), Parrish (1961), Palm Springs Weekend (1963) and Two on a Guillotine (1965).

In the 1970s, she refocused on her voice and started lining up singing commercials (Ace Hardware) while subsisting in nightclubs and hotels. Connie eventually built herself up as a Las Vegas headlining act. She also starred on Broadway with "The Star-Spangled Girl" and won a Theatre World Award for her performance in 1967. Comedian Bob Hope's made her one of his regular entertainers on his USO tours. Sporadic films came her way every now and then. A TV-movie The Sex Symbol (1974) (TV) had her playing a tragic Marilyn Monroe type goddess.

There was also innocuous fun with Grease 2 (1982) and Back to the Beach(1987) with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. She also appeared in episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" (1984), "The Love Boat" (1977) and "Baywatch" (1989).

Once wed to actor James Stacy, she later married and divorced singer Eddie Fisher. From her union with Fisher came two daughters, Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, both of whom became actors.

In the 1990s, the never-say-die personality began a new lucrative career in the infomercial game with skin-care and make-up products. Now a self-made tycoon with her own successful beauty line to boot, Connie is living proof that anything can happen in that wild and wacky world called show biz.