Classic TV Preservation Society Holiday Party

Join Us at Barnes & Noble Burbank December 3rd for a Gala Event With Over 20 Television Stars!

6pm – 9pm

Special-Guest List

A Very Merry Classic TV Holiday Event

Hosted by Herbie J Pilato and Caryn Richman (“The New Gidget”)

Featuring performer Gloria Loring (“Days of Our Lives”)

Burbank Barnes & Noble Media Center * Thursday, December 3, 2015 * 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Dear Butler (“Little House on the Prairie”)

Katherine Cannon (“Father Murphy”)

Kathy Coleman (“Land of the Lost”)

Lydia Cornell (“Too Close for Comfort”)

Joel Eisenberg (writer/author/producer – Chronicles of Ara/Joe Lewis biopic)

Kathy Garver (“Family Affair”)

Jimmy Garrett (“The Lucy Show”)

Jerry Houser (“The Bradys”)

Geri Jewell (“The Facts of Life”)

Patricia Kara (supermodel)

Bruce Kimmel (actor, author, screenwriter, director, “Tabatha”)

Karen Sharp Kramer (actress and wife of director Stanley Kramer)

Katherine Kat Kramer (actress and daughter of Stanley Kramer)

Lawrence H. Levy (TV writer/mystery author)

Stanley Livingston (“My Three Sons”)

Pierre Patrick (author, The Doris Day Companion)

Thaao Penghlis (“Days of Our Lives”)

Eric Scott (“The Waltons”)

Tom Watson (producer/author)

Michael Stern (Lucille Ball’s knighted “No. 1 Fan” and author of I Had A Ball)

William Wellman, Jr. (actor, son of famed director, author of Wild Bill Wellman)

Eileen Wesson (daughter of producer/director Dick Wesson)

Larry Wilcox (“CHiPs”)

Anson Williams (“Happy Days”)

Posted in Celebrities, Events, Hollywood People | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Lucy Show” Comming to Burbank

Join Classic TV Preservation Society at Barnes and Noble on November 19th Celebrating

*****Lucille Ball*****

Lucy 2The Classic TV Preservation Society is presenting Thomas J. Watson and Michael Stern.  The Show starts at 7pm and is hosted by Herbie J Pilato.  If you are a Lucy fan, you do not want to miss this presentation, which is free, but seating is limited.

Michael SternMichael Stern is known as Lucille Ball’s number one fan.  Here he is when he was just a kid, hanging out with Lucy!

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson, author of I Love Lucy: The Classic Moments, Loving Lucy: An Illustrated Tribute to Lucille Ball (with author Bart Andrews), The Quotable ‘I Love Lucy’, and Color Me Lucy.  Mr. Watson does much more, including his Still in Love with Lucy newsletters on the website.

and ?????? Possible Mystery Guest ??????

If you are a Lucy fan you might want to show up…….

Barnes and Noble Burbank is located across the street from Ikea in Downtown Burbank at 731 San Fernando Blvd., Burbank.

Posted in Celebrities, Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Francesca Lia Block Coming to Echo Park

Stories Books & Cafe Hosts Francesca Lia Block and other authors on Friday, November 13th at 7:30pm

Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe


Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry. She received the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award and the2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as other citations from the American Library Association and from the New York Times Book ReviewSchool Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. Her work has been translated into Italian, French, German Japanese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese. Francesca has also published stories, poems, essays and interviews in The Los Angeles TimesThe L.A. Review of BooksSpinNylonBlack Clock and Rattle among others. In addition to writing, she teaches fiction workshops at UCLA ExtensionAntioch University Writing Pad and privately in Los Angeles where she was born, raised and currently still lives.

Now on Kindle

Now on Kindle

Her new book, Rough Magick, at the present a Kindle Edition, is a collection of stories by other writers, that was edited by Francesca and Jessa Marie Mendez. Francesca: ” In Rough Magick, we have gathered together a collection of haunting, sometimes chilling, short stories and poems about the darker side of love and sex. Some of the stories are magical; some are more realistic and the “magic” comes through in language and lyricism. Some protagonists are teens and some are adults. There is romanticism and eroticism and even horror. What unites the stories is that the writers have boldly faced love’s shadows in unique and gripping ways.”  The writers are Amanda Yates Garcia, Jessa Marie Mendez, Ashley Inguanta, Daniel Weizmann, Mary Pauline Lowry, Justina Aura Nemoy, Sarah Herrington, Francesca Padilla, Alise Wascom, Tracy DeBrincat, Denise Hamilton, and Manuel Chavarria.  At this event, some of the authors will be reading from the book.

Stories Books & Cafe is at 1716 Sunset Blvd., in Echo Park.  For further information call 213-413-3733

Posted in Books, Celebrities, Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Frank and Ava In Love and War

Join us at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Wednesday, November 11th at 7:30pm

Authors John Brady and Lawrence Grobel

Frank & Ava

Join us as author John Brady signs & discusses his new book, “Frank & Ava-In Love and War” with author Lawrence Grobel.

*** BONUS***Also, as part of the evening festivities, Ava’s original recording of “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” which was deleted from the Show Boat movie track when MGM execs decided to dub Ava’s songs. The program also includes a home movie (in color) of Frank and Ava at their wedding reception on November 7, 1951, in a private home outside Philadelphia, with Frank’s March 1951 recording of “We Kiss in a Shadow” as quite appropriate background music.

“If I had to go back in Hollywood history and name two people who were most desperately and passionately in love with each other, I would say Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner were It.”—Liz Smith.

It began in Hollywood’s golden age when Ava was emerging as a movie star. But she fell in (and out of) love too easily. Mickey Rooney married her because he wanted another conquest. Artie Shaw treated her like a dumb brunette, giving her a reading list on their honeymoon. Neither marriage lasted a year. Then, after being courted by Howard Hughes and numerous others, along came Frank Sinatra. His passion for Ava destroyed his marriage and brought him close to ruin. Their wild affair broke all the rules of the prudish era as Frank left his wife and children and pursued Ava on an international stage. They became romantic renegades, with the press following them from location to location. “Oh, God, Frank Sinatra could be the sweetest, most charming man in the world when he was in the mood,” said Ava. They married, but then came the quarrels, separations, infidelities, and reconciliations. Eventually, there was a divorce, and they thought it was over. It wasn’t. Through all of the tortured years of separation and splintered affairs with others, they maintained a secretive relationship known only to those who recognized that this was the love of a lifetime. Over the years, they attempted to reconcile, romanced and nurtured each other, right to the end. The love story of this couple has never been fully explored or explained—until now. Frank & Ava delves deeply into the lives of these two iconic stars and their turbulent lifelong relationship. More than anything else, this is the story of a romance lived out under battlefield conditions.

Two authors who have written books about Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra meet and discuss the origins of their books, and how they how they overcame problems on the road to publication. Lawrence Grobel, author of Conversations With Ava Gardner, was one of the last American journalists to interact with the actress (when she was in LA for medical treatment shortly before her death in 1990).

John Brady

John Brady

John Brady, author of Frank & Ava in Love and War, met Sinatra and worked for his recording company in the ’70s when Frank was reinventing himself as Ol’ Blue Eyes. (Brady and Grobel have known each other since 1976 when John was editor-in-chief at Writer’s Digest — and put master interviewer Larry on the cover with one of his numerous Playboy subjects: Barbra Streisand.) This program will explore the byways of the celebrity biography and the uncertain credibility of sources, including “as lied to” memoirs. John Brady’s Frank & Ava in Love and War is the first book to tell the full story of the rocky road to romance traveled by Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Their encounter in Hollywood’s so-called golden age led to an affair that broke all the rules of the prudish era. Frank was married with children. Their reputations could be ruined if this got out — and it did, as Frank left his family and pursued Ava across Europe while she taunted him. They married, but then came quarrels, separations, and occasional truce between emotional wars. Eventually there was a divorce, but afterward they maintained their long, hot, messy, glorious, painful romance right to the finish line.

Publishers Weekly: “Veteran editor and author Brady approaches the love-hate history of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner with reliable thoroughness. He knows how to keep readers turning pages all the way to the end of Sinatra’s career, when everything that he had collected was sold at auction. Anyone remotely curious about either of these larger-than-life characters will want to read Brady’s book.” John Brady is the author of five books, including The Craft of Interviewing, Craft of the Screenwriter, and Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater. He has been editor-in-chief at Boston Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and founding editor of The Artist’s Magazine. His byline has appeared in scores of publications, and he conducted the Playboy interview with naughty-naughty TV host Jerry Springer. After Sinatra’s death in 1998, Brady started work on a book about the man and his music, conducting interviews with many of Frank’s colleagues. After visiting the Ava Gardner Museum in North Carolina, he shifted to a dual biography. “She was the most important woman in his life,” says Brady. Thus, Frank & Ava in Love and War, after years of research and occasional interruptions. Brady lives and writes in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He is currently working on a book about Marilyn Monroe.

Lawrence Grobel

Lawrence Grobel

Lawrence Grobel is a freelance writer who has written 24 books and hundreds of articles for national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Newsday, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Reader’s Digest, American Way, Parade, Details, TV Guide, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, Diversion, Writer’s Digest, and AARP. His 1985 book Conversations with Capotere received a PEN Special Achievement award and reached the top of several bestseller lists. Grobel’s books include: The Hustons; Conversations with Brando; Talking with Michener; Above the Line: Conversations About the Movies; Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives; Climbing Higher with Montel Williams (a N.Y. Times bestseller and Publisher’s Weekly Best Book in 2004); The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft (also a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book in 2004); Al Pacino: In Conversation with Lawrence Grobel(French Film Critics Award for Best International Book of 2009); Conversations with Robert Evans;The Book of Shmoga (a yoga satire); Icons (a collection of 15 celebrity profiles); I Want You in My Movie! Al Pacino’s 5 Year Obsession with Wilde Salome; a memoir, You Show Me Yours; Celebrity Salad: Close Encounters for the Verse Inclined (152 poems about celebrities); and the novels Catch a Fallen Star and Begin Again Finnegan. From 2001—2011 he taught seminars on The Art of the Interview, The Literature of Journalism, His blog, books and articles can be found on his website:

Larry Edmunds Bookshop is located at 6644 Hollywood Blvd.  just a few blocks east of the Metro Red Line Station at Hollywood and Highland.  Phone 323-463-3273 for additional information.

Posted in Books, Celebrities, Events | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writer Lawrence H. Levy at Classic TV Night November 12th

Join Us At Barnes & Noble Burbank Thursday November 12th at 7pm For Another Classic TV Preservation Society Special Event

Note:  If you have Periscope we will be live streaming the event!  Click on the red dot Los Angeles and look for ottofocus44.  Go to Twitter and follow @ottofocus44 to be notified of streaming events.

Lawrence H. Levy

Lawrence H. Levy

Lawrence H. Levy

Lawrence H. Levy is a two-time Emmy nominee and a WGA Award winner for SEINFELD. His credits include SEINFELD, ROSEANNE, FAMILY TIES, SAVED BY THE BELL… and the list goes on. Mr. Levy has also written for hour shows like SEVENTH HEAVEN, SAVANNAH, TRAPPER JOHN, and many more. He has run animation shows and has sold features to Columbia and Disney. Needless to say, he has had a very eclectic career and has just started on a new chapter. His first novel, SECOND STREET STATION, was published by Random House/Broadway Books this year. It is an historical fictional mystery based on a real story about a young woman, Mary Handley. During the late 1800’s when there were no policewomen, she was asked by the Brooklyn Police Department to help sleuth a high profile murder. During her investigation, she comes upon Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, J.P. Morgan, the inventor of Coca-Cola, etc, all of whom are suspects and about whom certain interesting, little known facts are revealed. His second book in the Mary Handley series, BROOKLYN ON FIRE, will be out on January 19th.

Barnes and Noble Burbank is located at 731 N. San Fernando Blvd, in Burbank.  It is across the street from Ikea, 1 block south of Burbank Blvd.  Plentiful free parking!  Call 818-558-1383

Posted in Books, Celebrities, Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Comedy Writers Laugh-In at Tonight’s Event

Barnes & Noble Burbank – Thursday Nov 5th – 7:00pm

Classic TV Preservation Society Presents

Great Moments in Television Comedy


Herbie J Pilato moderates tonight’s event with several of the greatest television comedy writers, including:

Sam Bobrick

Sam Bobrick

Sam Bobrick, award winning playwright who from the late 1950s to the 1990s wrote for scores of television shows.  Click here to go to his website for a list of his shows and his biography.  He says about his shows:

” Most of them were on the air before many of you were born. I think some of them were on the air before I was born.”

He’s written and co-written over thirty-five plays, many of them performed throughout the world, including: Murder At The Howard Johnson’sWeekend Comedy, Getting Sara Married, and Hamlet II (Better Than The Original). Twenty four of them have been published by Samuel French.

Born in Chicago in 1932 he joined the Air Force after his first year in college following a futile attempt at accounting. It was in the Service that he commenced a writing career as the editor and sole contributor to “The Tribe Scribe” – a bi-monthly politically incorrect base newspaper which, while very popular with the troops, was not held in the highest esteem by the military bureaucracy. After three years, nine months and twenty eight days in the Air Force he was honorably discharged and attended and graduated from the University of Illinois.

He soon made his way to New York where after several years of living on hot dogs and jelly donuts he landed his first big job as a writer for the legendary Captain Kangaroo children’s program. His TV writing career is long and varied, and includes The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, and The Smother’s Brothers Comedy Hour.

It was while doing The Kraft Music Hall in New York that he became involved with theatre, co-writing his first play NORMAN, IS THAT YOU? which has been produced throughout the world.

A prolific talent, he has also composed songs which have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Brian Ferry, and Los Lobos. He also co-wrote all the songs for the two MAD Magazine albums, MAD Twists Rock ‘N’ Roll and Fink Along With MAD – both of which have become collector’s items.

Recently – he and his son Joey wrote and released a hilarious but wickedly rude CD called Totally Twisted Country sung by the great country and western group The Cow Pies.

He is married and lovingly-devoted to playwright Julie Stein with whom he co-wrote several plays (including THE OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURES OF SHELDON & MRS. LEVINE and LENNY’S BACK (a one man show about the legendary comedian Lenny Bruce).

Besides his son he has two fantastic daughters Lori and Steffy, two wonderful son-in-laws, Caleb and Geoff, one magnificent daughter-in-law, Linda and two outstanding grand-children, Ariel and Joshua.

Ed Scharlach

Ed Scharlach

Ed Scharlach, another multi-talented writer who wrote for both television comedies and more serious stuff, like Mike Hammer.  Click here for a list of his extensive television writing credits.

He has written and produced more than 300 episodes of TV comedy, including: segments for classic shows such as “The Odd Couple,” “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” and “Love American Style.” He also penned pristine episodes of acclaimed variety shows like “The Dean Martin Show” and shows for Steve Martin, Bette Midler, and Jay Leno.

He is also worked for several TV hour mystery dramas include writing/producing for “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” and writing for sci-fi classics such as “Quantum Leap.”

Scooby-DooHis writing/producing also include such acclaimed animated series as “Duckman,” “The Wild Thornberrys”, “Pinky and the Brain,” the pilot for the cult favorite, “Invader Zim, as well as producing the TV series revival of the famed “Scooby-Doo” franchise.

His work as been heralded in TV Guide’s “101 Best Written TV Series,” as well as in TV Guide’s “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.” He is an Emmy, Annie, and Writer’s Guild Award nominee and the winner of a Cable ACE award.

He also happens to be one of the kindest and most beloved human beings in the entertainment industry.

Arnie Kogen

Arnie Kogen

Arnie Kogen, another major comedy writer and producer joins the group tonight.  Mr. Kogen has written for many of the major stand-up comedians, including Don Adams, Soupy Sales, Jackie Gleason and Johnny Carson.  Not only did he write for many television shows, but he wrote for years for our favorite Mad Magazine.  Click Here for a list of his credits, and Click Here for the list of Mad Magazine pieces.

He’s written and/or produced for The Carol Burnett Show, The Tonight Show, Newhart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Empty Nest, Mad TV, The Dean Martin Show, Sinbad, Donnie & Marie, The Jackson Five, Evening At The Improv, The Bob Newhart Show, Tim Conway, Candid Camera, The Golden Globes and The Academy Awards.

Has also written comedy material for Phyllis Diller, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Shelley Berman, Debbie Reynolds, Connie Stevens, Totie Fields, Jackie Vernon, Diana Ross, Flip Wilson, Ann Margret, Sammy Davis, Morty Gunty, Mal Z Lawrence and Freddie Roman.

Mad MagFor over five decades he has been one of the leading contributors to Mad Magazine.

He has won three Emmy Awards (seven nominations) and one Writers Guild Award (three nominations)

He has been planning on writing a novel but doesn’t have enough material. He feels he has a “leaflet” in him. 

Periscope fans:  We will broadcast live stream from time to time during the show.  Click on L.A on the map and find ottofocus44 between 7:30 and 9pm.


Posted in Celebrities, Events | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Partially Streaming Live on Periscope -Classic TV Preservation Society Gala Event

We Will Stream Parts of the Event Live – Look for Ottofocus44 in Los Angeles Between 7pm-9pm This will be intermittent – not the whole show.

Bewitched TT


Posted in Celebrities, Events, Hollywood People | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Classic TV Preservation Society

Schedule for Television Stars at Barnes & Noble Burbank for Upcoming “Throwback Thursdays”

All Events start at 7 pm.  Seating is Limited.  Event is Free

Events hosted by Herbie J Pilato

Anson Williams

Anson Williams

September 24, 2015:  Happy Days star Anson Williams will be discussing and signing his new book Singing To A Bulldog.



William Wellman, Jr

William Wellman, Jr

October 1, 2015:  William Wellman Jr. will be discussing and signing his book, Wild Bill Wellman, the biography about his iconic film director dad.



Kathy Garver

Kathy Garver

October 8, 2015:  Family Affair star Kathy Garver will be discussing and signing her book Surviving Cissy.



Ron Dante

Ron Dante

October 15, 2015:  Pop-icon Ron Dante (producer of Cher, Barry Manilow, and others) singing his legendary super hit Sugar Sugar (from The Archies) and singing selections from his new music CD.



Dawn Wells

Dawn Wells

October 22, 2015:  The one and only Dawn Wells, star of Gilligan’s Island, who will be signing copies of What Would Mary Ann Do?


October 29, 2015:  A Bewitched Night of Magic

Chris York

Chris York

Chris York, son of Bewitched actor Dick York (the first Darrin)

David Bloch-Mandel

David Bloch-Mandel

David Bloch-Mandel, who played little Adam Stephens (Samantha and Darrin’s warlock son)

Pop Haydin

Pop Haydn

Pop Haydn, the magician (and former Vice-President of the Magic Castle).


Posted in Celebrities, Events, Hollywood People | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Message From Brentsville, Virginia

Saving History is a World-Wide Problem

WhatUpHollywood was pleased that part of our article on “Grandma Was a Script Girl” had struck a chord with an historian on the East Coast.  Mr. Morgan Breeden, the Editor-Publisher of Brentsville Neighbors – Preserving Brentsville’s History has had a similar experience in trying to preserve local history.  In the latest issue, which happens to be number 120, Mr. Breeden writes:

Brentsville Court House and Historic Center

Brentsville Court House and Historic Center

“For the past ten years I’ve been trying to put into words and actions why I feel it is important to preserve the history of Brentsville.  Not only the physical places but the people and events as well. I achieved small success but have never actually felt that there is a lot of heart in what I’m attempting by the general public.  And the reason for the mixed success is probably my approach. I just didn’t have the right message. Then on August 8th, I received an e-mail from Juliet Webster introducing me to an article written by “Uncle Paulie”  in “WHAT UP HOLLYWOOD,” an on-line publication that covers “What’s Happening in Hollywood.”  [See]  Normally I’d read something like this with mixed interest and then go on to something more about Brentsville but this one struck a chord that makes me want to share it with you. With his permission, I’m using much of his article verbatim and modifying a little of it to fit my cause.”

A tip of the hat to Mr. Breeden, and we hope he finds and publishes a lot more of the fascinating local history of that area of Virginia.  You can look at his great newsletters by clicking here.  The newsletter is packed with history, check out the story of the Haunted Jail in the current issue.  Julie’s mother Agnes Webster wrote a column of local history back in the 1940s in The Manassas Messenger, which is reprinted in issues of the Brentsville newsletter.

The Challanges of Preservation

I remember talking to a librarian a few years back on the challenges of saving so much memorabilia.  She said “It’s a lot harder today than it was pre-1950.  In the past we had to deal mainly with papers, books, manuscripts, and other written material.  In today’s world, just think of the mountains of stuff that should be preserved:  cds, dvds, film, billions of photos, digital books, audio, and video.  It’s truly overwhelming.”

Millions of Records Lost From Floods and Fire

A lot of the material of the past is being scanned into digital files for preservation.  But that too has its limits and dangers.  Media is constantly changing, computers and storage becoming obsolete in a short period of time.  And who really knows how long a hard drive in a computer, or a dvd, or other tape media will really last?  I have personally had all of it go bad after a few years, and that is why I believe that it is prudent to save as much of the original material as possible, as well as scanning images and text into computers.

I remember reading a classic tale of U.S. Government document hell.  The Army had stored a large portion of their personel files of our troops serving in the Vietnam war in a Washington, D.C. warehouse.  The information was on the old IBM punch cards;  some of the older folks remember those antiquities that dated from World War 2.  (The Germans used IBM’s punch card system to keep track of inmates in their evil concentration camps).  The U.S. government dutifully put the Army records in the basement of a warehouse, which subsequently flooded due to bad water pipes.  The punch cards were ruined, turned into soggy heaps of mulch.  No problem, said one government official, we had microfilmed the punch cards.  I laughed out loud.  Having a microfilm of a punch card is useless.  Who knows what the punched holes even mean?  The massive IBM machines that could run those programs are long gone into the scrap heap, and finding a retired engineer who could run the machine, if you had one, is getting dicey due to old age.  The bottom line is that tens of thousands of records, including medical records, of our Vietnam War G.I.s may be gone forever.  A search for original papers was underway, but I never heard what happened after that.

Fire Damage - 18 million records lost.

Fire Damage – 18 million records lost.

Then there was the big fire in St. Louis at the Military Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973.  It was estimated that over 80 percent of Army records of personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960 were destroyed, as were 75% of Air Force records of personnel discharged between 1947 and 1964. The fire was so intense that it took 4 days for it to be declared officially out.  In addition to the fire damage, millions of gallons of water was poured into the building, further ruining anything left.  It should be said that these were mainly the primary paper records, and unfortunately, none had been put on computers or microfilm, with copies stored elsewhere.

A New Definition of Cultural Stupidity

Isis Destruction of Mosque

Isis Destruction of Mosque

As our technology changes, all the past material has to migrate to the new systems, because leaving it on the old system is to invite disaster.  The destruction of records in recent times has given me new respect for our ancient ancestors, who left their records carved in stone, which has lasted for thousands of years. They knew that neither fires nor floods would likely destroy them.  But even so, none of us ever thought that some modern day thugs would come along and blow up these precious monuments, as is happening today in the middle east.  This might be a new definition of cultural stupidity:  a group obliterating all traces of its own history before it is itself destroyed.

Classic TV Preservation Society

Meanwhile, in the face of all of this, What Up Hollywood is doing its bit to save some scraps of old Hollywood history.  One of our latest projects is working with Herbie J Pilato and his Classic TV Preservation Society.  We are filming his weekly events at the Barnes and Noble store in Burbank, where Herbie presents the stars of classic television and film, live in person.  These events are held every Thursday night and deserve to be supported.  Attendance is free, so tell your friends.  If you can’t make it, then check out the video footage which is posted on youtube, linked through this website.  We all grew up watching television.  It is one of the main media of the 20th and now the 21st century, and is a reflection of a large part of American culture.  We urge you to support Herbie and the Classic TV Preservation Society, you can click here to make a donation to that effort.  We’ll be seeing you on Thursday nights in Burbank!


Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memories of old Hollywood

Grandma Was A Hollywood Script Girl

East of Java - Aileen Webster is probably the only woman on the set.

East of Java – Aileen Webster is probably the only woman on the set, background right.

One of the strange things about American family culture is that most families spend almost no time talking about their relatives, even immediate family members.  Everyone is so busy trying to survive, go to school, work, participate in sports, dating and social activities, that the history, disappointments, achievements, and life stories of other family members are never dealt with.  When most kids are growing up, they might hear a few snippets, usually by accidental eavesdropping at the dinner table, about old grandpa Fred, who invented something or other,  or old aunt Betty who was a famous high-school athlete.  Rarely does a family take the time to get together every so often and give updates on what other members of the family, sometimes living in distant locations, are doing with their lives.  In some other cultures the dead family members are honored, as are the memories of what they did.  Most Americans have lost this.  Maybe it’s the result of the dis-integration of the so-called atomic family structure.  Ask a lot of young folks today, and many just don’t care about their past relatives, they are focused on themselves and immediate surroundings only.

Putting the family history in the trash.

Over the years I have been to thousands of estate sales and yard sales.  One thing that I began to notice is that family photo albums, documents, papers, history, and other memorabilia is frequently discarded- usually to be found in the trash cans.  The typical scenario is that the old folks die, the “kids” zoom in from out of town and dump everything out in the trash or estate sale, sell the house and pocket the money and any other valuables like jewelry, cash, paintings, and then scoot back to where they came from.  Save the family photos albums?  Naw, just keep one or two photos of mom or pop, that’s enough.  It makes you think that our culture must be so shallow that it’s not worth even giving it a second thought.

Charlene (left) with her mother Aileen Webster

Charleen (left) with her mother Aileen Webster

A few of us, though, as we age, realize that it sure would have been nice to be able to talk to Grandma about her life, but she lived on the other side of the country and died 20 years ago.  My friend Julie has recently had that “moment” when she unearthed some old boxes of photos and letters that she had rescued from the trash from one part of her family.  Julie’s family has a lot of Hollywood connections.  It started with her Grandmother, Aileen Webster, whose husband died at an early age and left her with two children, Charleen and Nicholas.  To make ends meet she somehow got a job as a script girl, and ended up working with director Tod Browning for 9 years.  Her daughter Charleen also worked in Hollywood as a showgirl, and was a friend of many Hollywood folks, including William Saroyan.

Filmmaker Nicholas Webster

Filmmaker Nicholas Webster

 Her son, Nicholas, became a filmmaker, winning awards for documentary films.  He wrote an entertaining book on his life filming documentaries called “How To Sleep on a Camel“.  One of Nick’s daughters, Cynthia Webster, owns a movie studio in Glendale, California, covered by WhatUpHollywood in a previous article (click here).  His daughter Julie, a teacher, helps out filming videos at WhatUpHollywood.

Who is left to sing my song?

Beach Babes - Showgirl Charlene with her mom Aileen Webster

Beach Babes – Showgirl Charleen (left) with her mom Aileen Webster

Looking through the box of old photos that Grandmother Aileen Webster had saved, brought up a mountain of questions.  What stories she could have told.  She worked on Dracula.  She worked on Freaks.  She was with Mr. Browning for years, and his life was really tumultuous.  She was there with him at many of the key moments.  Sadly, unless we can get someone to do a seance, we will never hear her stories- she died years ago.  We don’t have a diary.  Both her children, Charleen and Nicholas are dead. Like some of the Native American Chiefs said after their defeat in the so-called Indian wars: “Who is left to sing my song?”   Many of their stories were lost forever. So let this be a lesson to all who read this.  Get the facts and photos from your relatives as soon as you can, because nobody lives forever.  At least in this case we do have some pretty interesting old photos to share with our Hollywood fans.  So here goes:

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi signed this to Aileen Webster

Bela Lugosi signed this to Aileen Webster

A great photo signed to Aileen by the master of the horror movie.  Imagine being on the set with him during the filming of Dracula!

Freaks (1932)


Script Supervisor Aileen Webster is in the background at right, behind Mr. Browning in this wonderful set shot.


A Hurrell photo of Leila Hyams, one of the stars in "Freaks"

A Hurrell photo of Leila Hyams, one of the stars in “Freaks”

A nice signed photo to Aileen.  Her son Nicholas Webster worked for photographer George Hurrell probably after graduation from Hollywood High School.  He learned about photography and lighting from one of the greatest Hollywood photographers of all time.


The great, mysterious director Tod Browning

The great, mysterious director Tod Browning

Aileen Webster was his script supervisor for 9 years.  Unless a diary turns up, the stories, the secrets, the drama of this man’s life as they related to her, are lost forever.

East of Java (1935)

Director George Melford

Director George Melford

He also Directed the famous Valentino epoch “The Sheik” (1921)


Charles Bickford and George Melford

Charles Bickford and George Melford

A great shot of Charles Bickford talking things over with director George Melford, East of Java.

That’s all for now folks, hope you liked Julie’s family photos.  We may post some more photos of the fascinating Webster family in the future.

posted by uncle paulie.



Posted in Celebrities, General, Hollywood People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment