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A caricature from the since-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner’s TV Weekly April 16–22, 1967, insert plugs the spring premiere of “The Joey Bishop Show” on Monday, April 17. The ABC late night rival of “The Tonight Show” was hosted by the Rat Pack alum and a wet-behind-the-ears Regis Philbin. Bishop’s long face and and put-upon moroseness even has a hoot owl, perched on a higher tree limb, eying him suspiciously. Illustration by Bob Bentovoja / Walt Disney Television / Getty Images

Deconstructing The Rat Pack: Joey, The Mob, and the Summit biographers Richard A. Lertzman and Lon Davis exclusively strip back deadpan Jewish comic Joey Bishop’s rendezvous with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson, the Three Stooges, John Wayne, and unexpected mistress Nora Garibotti. Son of a gun!

The Lon Davis Interview

Who developed the proposal for Deconstructing the Rat Pack?

The book was Rick Lertzman’s idea, and he knew Joey Bishop personally. Sadly, I never met Joey. At the time he considered writing it, Bishop was the last man standing from the Rat Pack [1918–2007]. Rick’s idea was to do a book about the brief reign of that group, and do so from Joey’s perspective. …


A chronological, complete list of the enigmatic Southern Gothic siren’s 46 compositions recorded between 1967 and 1977

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Image Credit: Universal Music Group / Colorization by Stephen Potter / Bobbie Gentry Fans on Facebook

Forty-six Bobbie Gentry compositions have been issued, principally from her 1967–1971 stretch on Capitol Records. From the three million-selling “Ode to Billie Joe” to the dark horse, funky country of “Fancy,” the Mississippi-raised chanteuse’s legacy continues to proliferate. The Girl from Chickasaw County box set [2018] is approaching 15,000 units purchased with an asking price of $80. Two years later the two-CD Delta Sweete deluxe edition sold out its first pressing of 5,000 in 24 hours. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame also inducted Gentry in 2020. Never before has a chronological Gentry songwriting list with accompanying albums, A-side / B-side status, chart positions, release dates, and YouTube streaming links been attempted. …


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Photography by Jeremy Roberts

Flanking the northeast side of the Alapaha River at Sheboggy — a mile and a half east of Alapaha, Georgia — a small-scale creosote plant owned by Bertie Moore once existed post-World War II until about 1957. Derived from the distillation of black tar from coal or wood — beech trees are a common source in the eastern United States — creosote is a dirty, thick preservative found on railroad cross ties and wood fence posts. It has since been prohibited for residential use as carcinogens can be leeched into groundwater.

At Sheboggy drawing knifes were used to peel pine posts so creosote, likely pre-purchased from another location, could be affixed. The creosote-treated posts were then placed in a cylindrical, metal boiler and heated in river water for a certain period of time. Upon removal, drying for several days made them stronger and resistant to rotting. Farmers, including Gene Griffin, would purchase the posts to stake in the ground and keep wire fences taut and standing. Metal T-posts are significantly more prominent today. …


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Taken between August 22 and September 21, 1956, a rare color still finds 21-year-old Elvis Presley self-assuredly filming “Love Me Tender” on location at the 20th Century Fox Ranch in Malibu Creek State Park, Calabasas, California. The 90-minute black and white sagebrush oater was originally known as “The Reno Brothers.” The title cut, an unadorned performance excepting Vito Mumolo’s acoustic guitar and light harmonies by the Ken Darby Trio, would become Presley’s fifth number one pop single. Image Credit: For Elvis CD Collectors Forum user “Mike from Holland” / Walt Disney Studios

Elvis Presley’s film debut was the modestly budgeted 1956 Civil War-set western Love Me Tender, forgotten except for its theme song repurposed as an eternal wedding ballad. A previously unpublished interview with costar James Drury, later earning TV immortality as The Virginian, takes stock of his friendship with the rock superstar and Mother Dolores Hart, who abandoned a promising six-year Hollywood career [e.g. Presley’s Loving You and King Creole] for a Connecticut monastery. Head back to part three, entitled “Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country According to Dirty Rat James Drury,” in case you’re just joining the rodeo.

The James Drury Interview, Part Four

Let’s talk about your sole movie with Elvis Presley.


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Exclusive John Wayne reminiscences with cruel cowboy villain Gregg Palmer, Chris Mitchum, and only surviving sons Patrick Wayne and Ethan Wayne shed light on the Hollywood icon’s latter day Westerns such as “Chisum,” “Big Jake,” and “The Shootist.” Seen here sitting atop Dollar, a sorrel gelding with a narrow blaze and high stockings on both hind legs, the Duke is mighty tall in the saddle during an early scene from “The Cowboys” where he rides into the nearly deserted trail town of Bozeman, Montana, circa June 1971. Photography by David Sutton / Warner Bros.

Saddle up, pilgrims! The INSP cable network augmented 2020’s quarantine Christmas with a marathon sampling nine of John Wayne’s best Westerns distributed between 1944 and 1972. Within an astounding 167-film canon, the American institution appeared somewhere in the neighborhood of 87 Westerns in his workaholic 50-year career on the silver screen.

Affectionately known as the Duke by his army of aficionados, the late action star’s cultural impact is still felt over three decades after his death from the ravages of stomach cancer. Believe it or not, Wayne regularly places in the Top Five on the annual Harris Poll of America’s favorite living or deceased actors. He is the only actor to remain firmly ensconced on the list every year since the poll originated in 1994. …


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Valdosta State University students Juan Mora, girlfriend Colbie Spann, Finley Miller, Amr Foudah, Aylar Chikayeva, and Anastasia Vdovichenko joyously gather around a Thanksgiving dinner table inside the home of Roy and Bonnie Miller on November 26, 2020. Photography by Amanda Miller

In 1972 Miller’s Hardware unfastened its doors at 701 East Marion Avenue, indelibly impacting Berrien County’s economy for the subsequent 47 years. Former owner Roy Miller and wife-office manager Bonnie hosted a genuinely international Thanksgiving summit inside their conspicuously flat-roofed, French-designed home about a mile and a half northeast of Nashville, Georgia. Including daughters Angela [Vernon] Chambless and Amanda Miller and grandkids Colbie Spann and Finley Grace Miller, six, count ’em six, countries were compassionately acknowledged in this pointedly divided era.

Colbie, a 24-year-old chestnut-haired, spring 2020 Valdosta State University alumna, recently charted a new southbound course when she planted roots in Jacksonville. Angela’s only child applied for a lab manager position based upon her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minor in Chemistry. Colbie kept any emerging butterflies under wraps by conquering Arabic and Spanish. Self-taught, of course. …


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A glowing 69-year-old Levon Helm arrives for his fourth and final appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” at New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater on July 9, 2009. Helm was promoting his last studio album, “Electric Dirt,” with a New Orleans-fueled take of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed” featuring slide licks from Larry Campbell’s customized “Frankenstrat” Fender Stratocaster. Photography by Nancy Kaszerman / ZUMA Press

Sandra B. Tooze’s third tome is the engaging Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond. So far it’s the sole biography of the cash-strapped sharecropper’s kid from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, who established rockabilly roots in Toronto upon high school graduation, backed Bob Dylan when he abandoned acoustic folk, and served as the groundbreaking Americana quintet’s quadruple threat of a signature tenor vocalist, groove-laying drummer, mandolinist, and inspiration to songwriting architect Robbie Robertson. …


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“Magnificent Seven” second-in-command gunslinger Steve McQueen [1930–1980] presciently once acknowledged, “I’ll never be as good an actor as I want to be. But I’ll be good.” Meanwhile, the King of Cool is depicted on his Bud Ekins custom-built Triumph Desert Sled motorcycle dressed in the same navy blue T-shirt as seen in the World War II Eastern Front epic “The Great Escape” filmed in 1962. Image Credit: Photofest

“I’ve always been a perfectionist and that’s a pain in the ass.” Steve McQueen: In His Own Words is a five-pound coffee table tome encompassing 450 vintage quotes and 547 black and white and color photographs. Compiled by Portrait of an American Rebel biographer Marshall Terrill, In His Own Words was disseminated on the 40th anniversary of the King of Cool’s mesothelioma-triggered death. Sip some hot chocolate as Terrill handily assembles the nuts and bolts of McQueen’s surly moods, romantic rendezvous, politics, death bed confessions, and encounters with paparazzi, Ronald Reagan, Natalie Wood, Ali MacGraw, and fantastical cast-iron coffins.

The Marshall Terrill Interview

I was blindsided to discover that the typically suspicious, reticent Steve McQueen tasked business manager Bill Maher with reaching out to Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Champlin about collaborating on an autobiography.


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“The Office:” Hilariously endearing Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott [Steve Carell] and disciplined, albeit gullible Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight K. Schrute [Rainn Wilson] greet customers entering the paper company’s top-selling Scranton branch. Illustration by Erikas Chesonis / INPRNT

Pen-pusher Andy Greene holds court on debut tome ‘The Office:’ The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s — An Oral History, deemed Vulture’s Best Comedy Book of 2020. A senior writer at Rolling Stone by trade, Greene’s voluminous interview examines the oddball paper company whose resurgence on Netflix shows no signs of abating and the parent whose “tenaciousness was my guiding light during the many setbacks I faced while researching the book.”

The Andy Greene Interview

How did you emerge at Rolling Stone?

I’m from Cleveland, and I worked at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for my senior project in high school in 2000 and then got hired that summer as a human resources assistant. In subsequent college breaks, I worked all over the museum, but mainly in curatorial. I became very close to curator Howard Kramer. It was head curator James “Jim” Henke, who used to work at Rolling Stone, who got me a six-month internship with the magazine straight out of college in 2004. …


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Nefarious gold miner Billy Hammond [James Drury] and guileless bride-to-be Elsa Knudsen [Mariette Hartley] on location in the Santa Monica Mountains for “Ride the High Country,” Sam Peckinpah’s second film behind the camera following the little-seen “Deadly Companions.” Shot on a tight 26-day budget where soap suds were substituted for snow, the elegiac western served as Randolph Scott’s swansong and Joel McCrea’s last great role. Earning the top honor at Cannes, “Ride the High Country” was regrettably treated apathetically in the USA and lost money upon its May 9, 1962, issue. The matter was belatedly rectified with its 1992 preservation in the National Film Registry housed within the Library of Congress, although Peckinpah, Scott, and McCrea had sadly already passed away. Image Credit: screengrab / Cinematographer Lucien Ballard / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB

Cowboy James Drury, a mainstay of 1960s television as the titular hero of NBC’s The Virginian, participated in another legendary project — albeit as the villain in the 1962 western Ride the High Country. A previously unexcavated interview finds Drury reminiscing on nonconformist director Sam Peckinpah, charming scene stealer Warren Oates, the principled Joel McCrea, and avoiding Sunday punches.

The James Drury Interview, Part Three

What is your most critically acclaimed film?

I was freelancing and got the major role of Billy Hammond in MGM’s Ride the High Country [1962], directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. It became a classic western that has always remained in circulation. People think the world of it. Right after that I started The Virginian and got to be the hero [television’s debut 90-minute western was transmitted for an awe-inspiring 249 episodes between 1962 and 1971]. I had no time for any other projects until the late ’60s when I did an occasional movie for television and several theatrical releases, but nothing ever of the caliber of Ride the High Country. …

About

Jeremy Roberts

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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