Father’s Day with Comet’s Dad

Father’s Day from Comet Over Hollywood! This year, we have a few words from my dad.

As we did on Mother’s Day, I have a video of telling about his film love and introducing his children to classic films–particularly “West Side Story” (1961) to me:

Father’s Day from the Comet Archives:
My dad, the practical movie watcher
What Fathered Comet’s Interested?

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

What Fathered Comet’s interest?

If it wasn’t for either of my parents, I wouldn’t like classic films today.

As I have said on Comet numerous times, my parents rolled out films such as “Yankee Doodle Dandy” or “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” when my sisters and I were toddlers.

It was my dad who later introduced me to “West Side Story (1961) when I was 14, because he noticed my growing interest in musicals. Dad might have later regretted showing me the film when a full blown obsession followed our viewing of the modernized musical version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

This classic film encouragement is partially because they grew up with a love for the classics themselves.

For Father’s Day, I decided to do a brief Question and Answer session with Dad, Bill Pickens, about classic films.

Me: Who are your favorite actors and actresses?

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in "African Queen" (1951)

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in “African Queen” (1951)

Dad: My favorite actors are Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck. I enjoy their movies and they seemed like they were down to Earth, good people. I also like Humphrey Bogart, because some of my favorite films are “African Queen,” “Casablanca” and “We’re No Angels.”

My favorite actresses are Maureen O’Hara (Dad has always had the hots for Maureen) and Katharine Hepburn.

Me: What are your favorite movies?

Dad: Lawrence of Arabia, The King and I, Twelve O’Clock High, Lion in Winter, The Longest Day, The King and I.

Me: What kind of movies would you go to see as a kid? (Dad was born in 1955, for some reference)

Dad: My older sister Katie and I went to see movies every Saturday afternoon, because we lived on a military base and it was only 25 cents. We would see everything that came out from Disney movies to westerns.

I remember one time, some GI was trying to get fresh with Katie and I kicked him in the leg. I was her bodyguard at the movies. I don’t remember what movie it was but we lived in Ft. Lewis in Washington.

Me: Why do you like older movies?

Dad: They are classy and have interesting story lines. The movies didn’t have to have all the action, like you do today, to tell a good story.

Me: What is the worst movie I have had you watch?

Dad: I can’t think of any really bad ones. “The Blob” was pretty bad though, because it was so campy.

The fearsome monster in "The Blob" (1958)

The fearsome monster in “The Blob” (1958)

My Dad has been the only man in a family of all girls for the past 35 years. From putting together Barbie houses, helping us with math homework, nailing taps on the bottoms of dancing shoes or fixing our cars, Dad has been supportive and a good sport.

Probably two of the worst movies we all suffered through were the Doris Day films “Jumbo” and “The Ballad of Josie.” The only film Dad couldn’t take was “Calamity Jane.” He didn’t even make it through the eight minute intro song, “Deadwood Stage.”

“Calamity Jane isn’t a bad movie,” he said. “It’s just not my style.”

He’s been supportive of my film interest and, though he said he couldn’t think of any bad movies, has sat through some terrible ones, all for “the cause” of my movie love.

Happy Father’s Day, to my Dad who supports my interest and who I have even help expand on his.

Dad in a selfie with his three daughters. Comet is back left.

Dad in a selfie with his three daughters. Comet is back left.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

My dad, the practical movie watcher

My dad, Bill Pickens, is a practical movie watcher.

When the Wicked Witch of the West cries “I’m melting!” after water is thrown on her in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) he says, “Water wouldn’t make her melt. She would dissolve.”

James Stewart as George Bailey asks Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy how he lost the money in "It's a Wonderful Life."

James Stewart as George Bailey asks Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy how he lost the money in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

When Uncle Billy in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946) loses the check that would save George Bailey’s bank, my financially responsible father is furious.

In mystery films, he is always trying to figure out the plot twist or who-done-it before the movie is over.

Maybe it’s because he’s an engineer.

But along with teaching me to drive, helping me with long nights of math homework and moving me into new apartments in college and for jobs, my dad has always been supportive of my classic film watching.

Classic films are what my parents grew up on and in return, showed my sisters and me when we were young.

It was even my dad who suggested that I watch “West Side Story” (1961) in 2003 since I was starting to show an interest in musicals.

When I became obsessed with the movie, trying to learn the dances and listening to the soundtrack every day my dad later said he “created a monster.”

But without my dad suggesting that film, I wouldn’t have gone on to see 502 musicals.

Whenever I’m home, my mom, dad and I pick out a classic movie to watch together in the evening. I try to pick out one I didn’t want to watch without them or that I feel everyone would enjoy.

Doris Day as a sheep raising suffragette in "The Ballad of Jose" (1967)

Doris Day as a sheep raising suffragette in “The Ballad of Jose” (1967)

My dad has been a pretty good sport over the last 10 years with my selections. He has sat through frothy musicals such as “Luxury Liner” (1948) starring Jane Powell and even sat through Doris Day’s last and probably worst film “The Ballad of Josie” (1967).

Another time my mom and I had him watch the smutty 1950s film “A Summer Place” (1959) starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.

We chuckled as Dad shouted things about Sandra Dee’s crazy mother in the film. He made jokes like “Whatever you do that woman shoots dogs, I wouldn’t trust her” about Dorothy McGuire who was also in “Old Yeller.”

Doris Day singing "Deadwood Stage" in "Calamity Jane" (1953)

Doris Day singing “Deadwood Stage” in “Calamity Jane” (1953)

One of the only movies he has ever snuck out on and never returned was “Calamity Jane” (1953). I think it was the rather long song “The Deadwood Stage” that starts as soon as the movie begins that drove him from the room. I guess I don’t blame him.

But my favorite movies to watch with my parents are World War II films and thrillers. We all seem to enjoy those.

Films like “Battleground” (1949), “The Longest Day” (1962), “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (1944) and “Objective Burma” (1945) are some of our favorite war films.

Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne movies and live action Disney films are more of our favorites.

Some of dad’s other favorite films are “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “TThe King and I” (1956) and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962).

I guess I’m a pretty terrible daughter. After my dad has watched everything down to “Gold Diggers of 1935” (1935) and “Rose Marie” (1936), I have never seen “Lawrence of Arabia.” I guess well have to watch that sometime.

Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)

Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)

I call my mom the agent of my blog Comet Over Hollywood, because she proof reads everything and listens to my ideas.

But my dad has helped out with my film interest as well.

In 2006 we went on a family vacation to Hollywood to tour studios such as Paramount and take pictures of the hand prints in the cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Recently when I was traveling again to Hollywood for the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, my parents drove me two hours to the Atlanta airport. Atlanta was a straight flight to Los Angeles and they worried about their youngest child making a connecting flight.

When I was a child, I don’t think my parents had any idea what sort of film fanatic they were creating as they introduced us to old movies, but I don’t think they mind.

Happy Father’s Day!

2007 at Disney World with dad

2007 at Disney World with Dad

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Happy Father’s Day with the MacRea’s

Last year I did a post on fathers and their actor children. This year I decided to focus on just one father and daughter: Gordon MacRea and his oldest daughter Meredith. I found a very sweet duet of the two singing “Count Your Blessings” from the movie “White Christmas” (1954).

You may know Meredith as a ditzy blonde from various beach films or the perfect Billie Jo on the TV show “Petticoat Junction”- I have to admit, when I was in 4th grade she was my least favorite sister because she sang too much.

I adore Gordon MacRea and he is one of my favorite singers. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to alcohol problems.

Once in the 1980s, Gordan MacRea was doing a performance in my hometown of Greenville, S.C.  Due to his alcoholism, he was so drunk during the concert that he couldn’t remember the lyrics during the song. So sad 😦 My mother told me that Meredith wrote a letter to the paper thanking his fans for attending and apologizing that her father was unable to perform.

I think Meredith really loved her father and tried to help him out as much as she could. I’ve seen clips of the two of them in the 1970s on gameshows and she was very loving towards him and still called him daddy.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page or e-mail us at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com.

Hollywood Dads and Star Babies

On Father’s Day we remember the times dad taught us to drive, checked our oil and watched “Calamity Jane” with us.  I would also like to remember Hollywood fathers that had children who also went on to have film careers.  Here are a few of my favorite Hollywood families.

Like father, like son:

John and Patrick Wayne in “The Searchers” (1956)

John Wayne and Patrick Wayne-

Can you think of a more attractive father and son? Patrick Wayne had big cowboy boots to fill but had a modest career as an actor. Patrick was born in 1939, when his father made one of his most successful films “Stagecoach.”  Patrick was 11 when he made his first film, “Rio Grande” with his father. John and his son were in the ten films together including:
Rio Grande” (1950),”The Quiet Man” (1952), “The Searchers” (1956), “The Conqueror” (1956), “The Alamo” (1960), “The Comancheros” (1960), “Donovan’s Reef” (1963), “McLintock” (1963), “The Green Berets” (1968) and “Big Jake” (1971).

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr. in 1936 on the set of “Jump for Glory”


Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.-

Another attractive, father and son duo: Douglas Fairbank Sr. and Jr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born into Hollywood royalty. Daddy Fairbanks was one of the silent screen’s biggest idols and Junior became a heart-throb (at least mine, he is my desktop background).
“I never tried to emulate my father. Anyone trying to do that would be a second-rate carbon copy,” Fairbanks Jr. said. However, both men were known for their swashbuckling roles.
Jr. had a successful career, best known for his role with Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen in “Gunga Din” (1939) and “Sinbad the Sailor” (1947).
Both men were married to some of Hollywood’s top actresses. Senior to Mary Pickford-their estate was known as “Pickfair”- and Junior to Joan Crawford.

Ed and Keenan Wynn in 1948 at a hospital charity event.

Ed Wynn and Keenan Wynn-

Not as handsome, but definitely funny.  Keenan helped his father Ed get a Hollywood career, according to IMDB.  Keenan always played the pal, heel or funny man in the movies while Ed was the bumbling clown.  The father and son team were in the Disney movies “The Absent Minded Professor” and “Son of Flubber” together in the 1960s.



 Daddy’s little girl:

John and Hayley Mills-

“Acting is just a natural thing in my family. Other boys and girls go into the family business. So do we,” Hayley said.
John Mills had a successful career in England starring in films like “This Happy Breed” and”Hobson’s Choice.”
Hayley’s made success in Disney movies such “Pollyanna” and “Parent Trap.” Dad cashed in at Disney in the movie “Swiss Family Robinson’s” playing the father.
The two were in the 1959 thriller “Tiger Bay” and the 1966 comedy/drama “The Family Way.”

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery-

Robert Montgomery started in movies when talkies shook Hollywood. He shocked audiences with Norma Shearer in the sex comedy/drama “The Divorcee” (1930). He showed war wasn’t all patrotism and glamour in “They Were Expendable” (1945) and let audiences see how he solved a murder through his eyes literally (we only saw his face in the movie a few times) in “Lady in the Lake” (1947).

In contrast, his daughter Elizabeth, starred in the wholesome 1960s television series, “Bewitched.”  Elizabeth got her start after appearing on several episodes of her father’s series, “Robert Montgomery Presents,” according to IMDB.  “I guess you could say I’m a TV baby,” Elizabeth said.

Alfred and Patricia Hitchcock-

The master of suspense had one daughter. Patricia didn’t have a huge film career, but she did act in three films that her father directed. Her largest role was as Barbara, Ruth Roman’s little sister, in “Strangers in a Train” (1951).  She also had a bit role in “Stage Fright” (1950), was a secretary in “Psycho” (1961) and appeared in several episodes of “Alfred Hitchcok Presents.”

Some actors are less than complementary about Hitch, but he and Patricia had a good relationship. The book “Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism” analyzes “Stage Fright,” comparing Patricia’s and Jane Wyman’s similar appearances. The joking but loving father-daughter relationship between  Wyman and her father in the film characterized Patricia and Hitchcock’s relationship, according to the book.     Other film fathers:-Edgar Bergen: puppet, Charlie McCarthy and daughter, Candice-Lloyd Bridges: sons Beau and Jeff-Lon Chaney: son Lon Chaney, Jr. of “Of Mice and Men” (1939) fame-Tony Curtis: daughter Jamie Lee-Kirk Douglas:  son, Michael-Henry Fonda: son Peter, daughter Jane-Rance Howard: songs Clint and Ron-Walter Huston: director son, John-Robert Keith: son, Brian of “Family Affair” and “Parent Trap” fame-Gordon MacRea: daughter, Meredith of “Petticoat Junction” fame-Joel McCrea: son, Jody of beach movie fame-Vincent Minnelli: daughter, Liza-Lyle Talbot: son Stephen (Gilbert from “Leave it to Beaver”)

Happy Father’s day to the star of our household, my dad, who has to put up with three daughters and their shopping, complaining and movie musicals. Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.