All posts by Paul Stroessner

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen (February 11, 1926 – November 28, 2010)

“Shirley” he will be missed. But don’t call him Shirley! Leslie Nielsen, star of the great ’80s comedies Airplane! and Naked Gunmovies passed away yesterday at the age of 84. Nielsen died of complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, surrounded by family and friends, a family statement said.

Early in his career, Leslie Nielsen was a great serious actor. He got raves for his roles in the science fiction movie Forbidden Planet (1956) and disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

But it was his role as Dr. Rumack in Airplane! that shot Nielsen up to superstardom. He then starred as Lt. Frank Drebin in the short-lived comedy, “Police Squad.” The show failed but it inspired the creative team behind it to make a big screen version with The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. The movie was so successful, that there were 2 sequels, Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.

Unfortunately, this also spawned off some other slapstick comedies that paled in comparison such as, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused.

Nielsen had been ill for over a week, getting treatment for a staph infection in a hospital in Fort Luaderdale when he contracted the pneumonia. His nephew, Doug Nielsen, confirmed the rumors of his uncle’s death by a call-in to a Manitoba radio station, CJOB on Sunday stating that “today at 5:30, with his friends and his wife, Barbaree, by his side, he just fell asleep and passed away.”

Nielsen is survived by Barbaree Nielsen, his fourth wife, and his two daughters, Thea and Maura, whom the actor had with his second wife, Sandy Ullmann.

Music Video of the Week: 11/24/10

Today’s selection is a clue to where I am this week, “Mickey” by Toni Basil:

“Mickey” was one of the most popular early MTV videos. In the video, Basil wore her head cheerleader uniform from Las Vegas High School from which she graduated. During an interview on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of The 80’s”, Basil revealed that she still owns the same cheerleader sweater she wore in the video. The song reached #1 for one week. In 2003, VH1 ranked “Mickey” Number 6 on its list of the 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the ’80s.

Trivia Tuesday: 11/23/10

Question: Who was the lead singer of Genesis before Phil Collins stepped into the role?

Last Question: At the end the Cheers Thanksgiving episode “Thanksgiving Orphans”, who gets hit in the face with a pie?

Answer: Vera (Norm’s Wife)

In my opinion, this Cheers episode, “Thanksgiving Orphans” was one of the best ever. It aired on November 27, 1986. Thanksgiving is approaching, but only Diane (Shelley Long) has made plans to celebrate the holiday. So that no one will be left out of the festivities, Carla impulsively invites the Cheers gang to dinner at her place. Much to her dismay, Diane ends up coming to their dinner. Then Norm is cooking the worlds largest turkey, and it takes an extremely long time to cook. While the gang is impatiently waiting, one of the greatest food fights ensues. Things calm down afterwards. Then Norm’s wife, Vera, (who the audience has never seen) shows up. But the audience still doesn’t see her since Diane throws a pie, and it lands on Vera’s face!
Here is the last (and best) part of the episode:

Ronald Reagan Quote of the Week – 11/22/10


America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our
citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history.
In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving
thanks to god for all of His blessings.

On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first
thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter,
the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they
gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the
native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were
thankful not only for the material well-being of their harvest but for this
abundance of goodwill as well.

In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping
hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program,
this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character.
Americans have always understand that, truly, one must give in order to receive.
This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of
this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday
festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals
to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can
only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.

Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played
such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed
as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do
hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1981, as Thanksgiving Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of November, in
the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of
the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

Trivia Tuesday: Special Thanksgiving Edition

Surprise!! It’s Trivia Tuesday a couple of days early!

Question: At the end the Cheers Thanksgiving episode “Thanksgiving Orphans”, who gets hit in the face with a pie?

Last Week’s Question: What was the second music video that aired on MTV?

Answer: “You Better Run” by Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run” was the second music video ever aired on MTV on August 1, 1981 after “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. “You Better Run” came off of Benatar’s 1980 album Crimes of Passion, and reached #42 on the charts. So Pat Benatar became the first feamle and first American to have a video on MTV.

Here is MTV’s liftoff, which includes the first 2 videos:

Silver Spoons: Where Are They Now?

Here we are, face to face
A couple of Silver Spoons.
Hopin’ to find, we’re two of a kind
Making a go, making it grow.

Together, we’re going to find our way.
Together, taking the time each day.
To learn all about those things you just can’t buy.

Two Silver spoons together.
You and I together (We’re going to find our way)
You and I together (We’re going to find our way)
You and I together.

Silver Spoons aired on NBC from September 25, 1982 to May 11, 1986 and in first-run syndication from September 15, 1986 to March 4, 1987.

In the first episode, Ricky Stratton (Ricky Schroder) arrived at the mansion of the father he has never met to introduce himself, move in and get to know him better. Edward Stratton III (played by Joel Higgins) was an “overgrown child,” that never took responsibility for anything, including his toy business named Eddie Toys. Edward thinks that his son is too uptight and needs to get out and have fun while he’s still young.

They live in an awesome mansion that has arcade games and a train that ran throughout the house. While Edward was childish and playful, his gorgeous personal assistant, Kate Summers (played by Erin Gray), was often the voice of reason. And she kind of gave him incentive to act a little more mature. Edward and Kate had a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship which led to the two dating and later becoming married in the third season.

And like, Diff’rent Strokes, and other family sitcoms of the ’80s, Silver Spoons had it’s share of “Very Special” Episodes:

* In the Season 1 episode “Mr. T and Me”, the issue of school bullies was touched upon when Ricky is being picked on by a bully and Edward decides to hire a bodyguard for Ricky (played by Mr. T).

* In the Season 1 episode “The Best Christmas Ever”, homelessness was addressed when Ricky discovered a family living in a cave on his father’s estate, featuring future Gimme A Break and Blossom star Joey Lawrence.

* In the Season 2 episode “Spare the Rod,” Ricky discovers that his friend Toby (Meeno Peluce of Voyagers!) is being beaten by his father. The end of the episode reveals that the father is also a child abuse victim.

* In the Season 3 episode “The Babysitters”, Ricky suspects that a girl he’s babysitting was kidnapped by her father. Many missing children cases have involved children being kidnapped by one of their parents or relatives.

* In the two-part Season 4 episode “One for the Road”, Ricky attends a party and is pressured into drinking by his friend. He later finds out that his friend has a drinking problem and tries to get him help.

* In the Season 4 episode “Daddy Rick”, the subject of teen pregnancy is addressed when Ricky is paired with a girl in a mock marriage project at school and finds out his partner is pregnant, both in the mock marriage project and in real life.

Overall, this was a very good show. And who didn’t want to live in that mansion?!?

So, where have all the stars of the show been?

Ricky Stratton – Ricky Schroder

Ricky Schroder came into prominence when he won a Golden Globe for Best New Male Star of 1979 when he starred in The Champ with Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway.
Schroder then starred in Silver Spoons. After his run on that show, he decided to go for more mature roles. In 1988, he starred in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries, Lonesome Dove, based on Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. He also appeared in the sequel, Return to Lonesome Dove. And then most of us were surprised when he starred in the television show NYPD Blue, replacing Jimmy Smits. He played Danny Sorenson for 2 1/2 years, and did an outstanding job. He left after the 2000-2001 season citing a need to spend more time with his family and time-management issues. In 2003, he returned to comedy, playing Nurse Paul Flowers in Scrubs. In 2004, Schroder directed and starred in the great Brad Paisley video, “Whiskey Lullaby”. In 2007, Schroder went back to action/drama, playing Mike Doyle on 24 for 1 season. Schroder is set to guest-star in an upcoming January episode of ABC’s No Ordinary Family.

Schroder married Andrea Bernard on September 26, 1992. Together, they have four children: sons Holden (born 1992) and Luke (born 1993) and daughters Cambrie (born 1997) and Faith Anne (born 2001). Andrea Bernard-Schroder is an interior designer and was a contestant on Season Two of Top Design on Bravo.

For the latest news and updates on Rick Schroder, you can visit his Official Site.

Edward Stratton III – Joel Higgins

Before Silver Spoons, Joel Higgins played Bruce Carson in the CBS soap opera Search For Tomorrow from 1975-1978. In 1979, Higgins starred in the short-lived television series Salvage 1 with Andy Griffith. Then in 1981, he starred as U.S. Marshal Sam Best in the show Best of the West.

After Silver Spoons, he appeared in 2 television movies: Laura Lansing Slept Here (1988) and Rich Men, Single Women (1990). He was also in the short-lived 1989 sitcom, Have Faith where he played the role of Monsignor Joseph “Mac” MacKenzie.

He has mainly been working in theater over the years.

Joel Higgins is married to a woman named Stacy, they’ve been together for over 20 years and have a son named Graham.

Kate Summers Stratton – Erin Gray

Before Silver Spoons, Erin Gray was known for her role as Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Then in 1982, she played the role of Lilah in the summer movie Six Pack as a love interest opposite Kenny Rogers.

In 1993, she had a featured role in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the ninth entry in the Friday the 13th series. In 2005, she appeared in the film, Siren. In 2010, she appeared in the web series Buck Rogers, playing the mother of Lucas ‘Buck’ Rogers. She is also active as a casting agent through her agency, Heroes for Hire, which specializes in booking sci-fi and fantasy stars for appearances.

The Official Erin Gray Home Page

Dexter Stuffins – Franklyn Seales (July 15, 1952 – May 14, 1990)

Seales was mainly known for “stuffy” Dexter Stuffins, Edward’s attorney, and uncle to Ricky’s best friend Alfonso. After Silver Spoons, Seales had guest spots on the shows Wiseguy, Growing Pains, and Amen. Sadly, Seales died of complications from AIDS at his family’s home in New York City on May 14, 1990. He was 37.

Alfonso Spears – Alfonso Ribeiro

While Alfonso Ribeiro became well known from his role in Silver Spoons, he became an even bigger star as Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

He is currently hosting his first game show, GSN’s Catch-21, which premiered July 21, 2008 and directing Tyler Perry’s sitcom Meet the Browns.

Derek Taylor – Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman played one of Ricky’s friends, Derek Taylor from 1982-1984. Before Silver Spoons, Bateman played James Cooper Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. After Silver Spoons, Bateman starred in the show Valerie’s Family, which was then named The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper left the show. After that show ended, Bateman disappeared for almost a decade. Then he had a career resurgence when he starred in the show Arrested Devlopment as Michael Bluth. Bateman won several awards for his work on the series, including a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. He was also nominated in 2005 for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.
This resurgence then brought him to movies. In 2004, Bateman appeared in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story as ESPN 8 (“The Ocho”) commentator Pepper Brooks, and in Starsky & Hutch as Kevin, Vince Vaughn’s business partner.

Bateman reunited with Vaughn in 2006’s The Break-Up. In 2007, he played former lawyer Rupert “Rip” Reed alongside Ben Affleck in Smokin’ Aces, and also starred in The Kingdom, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and Juno. In 2008, he co-starred with Will Smith and Charlize Theron in the superhero film Hancock.

Bateman’s 2009 films included Extract, written and directed by Mike Judge, and Couples Retreat, a comedy chronicling four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort (Kristen Bell played his wife).

Since 2001, Bateman has been married to actress Amanda Anka, daughter of singer and actor Paul Anka. Their first child, Francesca Nora Bateman, was born October 28, 2006.

Freddy Lippincottleman – Corky Pigeon

After Silver Spoons, Corky went on to plays drums and make countless records in various bands, tour with bands like MXPX and Reel Big Fish. Corky married his girlfriend of ten years, Bobbie Starr Pigeon aka Bobbie Starr. They live in The Valley in Los Angeles.

Grandfather Edward Stratton II – John Houseman (September 22, 1902 – October 31, 1988)

In addition for being known as Edward Stratton II, Houseman won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for his role as Professor Charles Kingsfield in the 1973 movie The Paper Chase. He reprised his role in the television series of the same name from 1978–1986, receiving two Golden Globe nominations for “Best Actor in a TV Series — Drama”. And of course, we fondly remember Houseman for his Smith Barney commercial, with the catchphrase: “They make money the old fashioned way…they EHRN (earn) it.”

Here is the commercial. The actual commercial starts 22 seconds into the video:

Houseman died of spinal cancer in 1988 at his home in Malibu, California at age 86. In 1988, he appeared in his last two roles—cameos in the movies The Naked Gun playing a hilarious driving instructor, and Scrooged playing himself. Both films were released after his death.

Television Flashback: Family Ties – “At This Moment”

Throughout the ’80s, there were several iconic television moments. Some were from real life events, and others were from our favorite television shows.
This “moment” is from Family Ties. When somebody mentions Family Ties, this scene is usually one of the first that comes to mind – Alex and Ellen (Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, who would eventually get married in real life) dancing to Billy Vera & the Beaters’ “At This Moment”. The song was actually released in 1981 to moderate success. Then on October 3, 1985, the Family Ties episode “The Real Thing” aired. This renewed great interest in the song, so it was re-released, and eventually reached #1.

In this episode, Ellen Reed opened herself to Alex several times hoping to get him to admit how strongly he felt about her. But he couldn’t do it. Then this led to this dance seen in this clip:

Here is the episode, available on Amazon:

[twitter-follow screen_name=’returntothe80s’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Music Video of the Week – 11/17/10

This week’s selection, in honor of Ronnie DeVoe’s 43rd birthday, is “Cool it Now” by New Edition:

“Cool It Now” was released in 1984 as the first single off of New Edition’s second album, New Edition. The song was the group’s first top 10 pop single, peaking at number four on the pop chart, and their second number one R&B hit. The original members included Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, and Ricky Bell. Bobby Brown left the group in 1985 to go on to a successful solo career. New Edition continued on with four members for a while, until Johnny Gill joined them in 1988. In 1990, the group when on hiatus while the went on to their own projects. Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant had solo projects, and the remaining members formed Bell Biv Devoe, who were successful with the song and album Poison.
New Edition has reunited in 1996 for a short time, and again in 2004. There are rumors that they will reunite once again.

On December 20, 2009, Ricky Bell and Johnny Gill joined New Kids on the Block onstage at a House Of Blues benefit show for Toys For Tots in Boston, performing Full Service and This One’s For The Children.

Johnny Gill confirms that New Edition will reunite once again and will sign with manager Irving Azoff. They are currently signed with Geffen Records and Interscope Records.

Trivia Tuesday – 11/16/10

Question: What was the second music video that aired on MTV?

Last Week’s Question: What television show featured a time traveler whose job it was to travel throughout Earth’s past, present, and future fixing “mistakes” in time. (It’s not Doctor Who or Quantum Leap)

Answer: Voyagers!

Voyagers! aired on NBC for the 1982-1983 season on Sunday nights, and starred Jon-Erik Hexum as Phineas Bogg and Meeno Peluce as Jeffrey Jones. Bogg used a hand-held device called an Omni (which looked much like a large pocket watch) to travel in time and ensured that history unfolded as we know it. When the Omni was red, they knew something wasn’t right and needed to fix it. Once it was green, they were good to go.
Here is the opening:

Bogg and Jeffrey first met when Bogg’s Omni malfunctioned and took him to 1982, landing him in the apartment of Jeffrey’s aunt and uncle, who were caring for him after his parents’ death. Jeffrey accidentally fell out of a window, and Bogg jumped out to rescue him by activating the Omni. Bogg’s Guidebook, which contained a detailed description of how history should unfold, had been grabbed by Jeffrey’s dog Ralph so Bogg had to rely on Jeffrey (whose father was a history professor) to help him.

Over the closing credits of each episode, Meeno Peluce (Jeffrey) said in voice over: “If you want to learn more about {historical element from the episode}, take a voyage down to your public library. It’s all in books!”

Voyagers! was successful, but it did not get picked up for a second season because NBC thought they could challenge CBS’s 60 Minutes with another news program, called Monitor. Apparently that didn’t work out too well because I forgot about Monitor, and I still remember loving Voyagers!

Jon-Erik Hexum went on to star in another show called Cover Up. On On October 12, 1984, while on the set, Hexum was fooling around and played Russian roulette with a handgun that still had blanks in it. The force of the wadding from the blanks hit him in his temple with enough force to hatter a quarter-sized piece of his skull and propel the pieces into his brain, causing massive hemorrhaging. He underwent five hours of surgery. But on six days later, on October 18, Hexum was declared brain dead. His mother gave permission to pull him off of life support. Several of his organs were donated to ailing people.

Meeno Peluce was devastated by the death of his Voyagers co-star and close friend. In 1998, Peluce spoke about the accidental shooting on Mysteries and Scandals: The Death Of Jon-Erik Hexum.
Peluce is married and has two children. He has also worked as a writer and director. He is half brother to Punky Brewster‘s Soleil Moon Frye. Their father is actor Virgil Frye.
Peluce is a photographer, and showcases his photographs, along with writings, at his website.

Steve Perry Wants to Reunite With Journey?

“Don’t Stop Believin'” Steve Perry and Journey fans. The rumor mill is starting up once again. According to Pollstar, London’s Daily Star an a short piece saying Perry had asked to rejoin the band after seeing “Don’t Stop Believing” performed by cast members on the hit TV show “Glee.” Or maybe he got re-energized after this performance at a Giants playoff game in San Francisco a few weeks ago:

But Journey founder/guitarist Neal Schon said, “He seems to be enjoying the spotlight a little too much. The fact is he’s no longer the lead singer. He walked out.”

Also, Journey already has a new singer, Arnel Pineda, and the band has an album scheduled to be released in 2011, and they plan on a world tour.