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160523 May 23, 2016


"Circus Boy"
John Drummond
LHS '65

        The "Rin-Tin-Tin" story  (which did not mention the character of Sgt. Biff O'Hara, played by an otherwise unknown actor, Joe Sawyer) reminded me of another TV series starring a young lad of an age matching our own.  "Circus Boy" ran for 49 episodes, 1956-58, starring Micky Dolenz, a 12- year-old orphan adopted by a traveling circus owned by Big Tim Champion.  He became part of the circus family, and  water boy to the baby elephant Bimbo (the term "Bimbo" in our 21st Century has quite a different meaning than it did in the 1950s).

        A major character was a clown (what TV show or movie involving a circus does not have at least one?) played by Noah Beery, Jr. (1913-1994).  His father, Noah, Sr. and uncle Wallace Beery were well-known accomplished actors.  Noah, Jr. was almost always cast in a good-natured supporting role, usually playing the pal of the hero.  He later became popular in the 1970s as the father of James Garner's lead character in "The Rockford Files."

        Micky Dolenz was born March 8, 1945, the son of George Dolenz, best known for playing the title role in "The Count of Monte Cristo" on TV.  After "Circus Boy" ended in 1958, he attended school and was cast in a few minor one-episode TV roles.   Life changed abruptly in 1965, when he auditioned for a new band to be called "The Monkees;"  after competing against some 350 other musicians (not actors) he was chosen as the drummer, in addition to performing as lead  vocalist for several songs, some of which became major hits.   The Monkee's first single, lead vocal by Micky, was "Last Train to Clarksville", which was written as an anti-war song;  I vividly remember dancing to that song at Auburn post-football game parties, but associate the memory more with Pabst Blue Ribbon than Vietnam.

        In an amusing and delightful twist of fate, the musicians morphed into actors.  In September 1966 "The Monkees" TV series made its debut, featuring the four band members in a wacky, funny half-hour of absurdity.  It reminded one of "A Hard Day's Night," the first film by The Beatles.  You did not have to be exactly brain-dead to enjoy "The Monkees," but it helped.  There must have been a huge number of fans, as the show won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 1967.  The introductory theme song began with:  "Hey Hey, we're The Monkees, and people say we monkey around; but we;re too busy singin', to put anybody down." Other hits that were released during the show's run were:  "I'm a Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and my personal favorite, "Daydream Believer."

        TV Trivia Question:  Can you name the actors who played the other three band members?

Circus Boy

        Memphis, TN - Thanks to John Drummond for contributing this week's lead story.

         Well, I started to visit Jim McBride last week to get some pointers on how to be a postman. The TV series I wrote about last week needed an actor to play a mailman and the actor best known as "The Postman", Kevin Cosner, was busy so they called me and offered me the part instead. I put in 10 hours in costume, and never made it in front of the camera. I don't want to believe the reason I was called was because they only had one mailman uniform and I had the exact measurements for all the parts, including the hat.


The Virtual Jukebox
John Drummond
LHS '65

        Tommy, can you spin for us three of the Monkee's hits?  I request "Last Train to Clarksville,"  "I'm a Believer," and "Daydream Believer."  Thanks,

Last Train to Clarksville

I'm a Believer

Daydream Believer

Click on Either Poster to get a larger view.



From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Hi Ho Silver

Craig Bannecke

        In light of all our nostalgic looks back at music, movies and favorite old TV shows I thought this video clip of Glen Campbell playing the William Tell Overture, with backup by a symphony orchestra, was interesting. The old Lone Ranger TV show staring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, as Tonto was like for many of us, one of his favorites.  This short video clip is Glenn's tribute  to those bygone days of yester-year. 

The William Tell Overature

Subject:    A Note
Ann Pat King Fanning 
LHS '65

Tommy - you are an inspiration to me. I love reading of your journals --- and now this stint of acting along with your wife.  That is so neat. Living life to the fullest.  Keep it up.  You are blessed and a blessing.

Subject:    TV Show
Ann Franklin

I enjoyed reading about your experience.  Who knows – this could be a beginning!!!

Love and God bless.

Subject:    Acting Gig
Patsy Hughes Oldroyd
LHS  ‘65

        Congratulations to you and Sue on your recent acting gig. You two look great and very 50ish. Actually though, Tommy, you could pass for a gangster with that cool hat you are wearing. You should tryout for a gangster movie next. I will definitely keep watch for the TV mini series and scan the back rows in audience scenes in hopes of seeing you. Do let us all know if or when you find out when the series will be on TV. 

        Well, I never got in a movie or TV series acting part, but I did get to see some scenes being filmed once. I lived in Nashville for a couple of years back in the early seventies, and Burt Reynolds was there filming the very forgettable WW and the DIXIE DANCE KINGS. Probably no one at all remembers that movie. Anyway, they were filming at a restaurant and the parking lot of that restaurant on Nolensville Road right outside the downtown  area. They allowed spectators to actually get in fairly close, but they were very adamant about them being quiet when the cameras were rolling. All in all it was pretty disappointing how little they did to film a scene back then. No special effects, that’s for sure. Also. Burt Reynolds was a very small little guy, but he did wear shoes with a very thick sole and heel to make him look taller.  

        They have filmed a few movies in and around the Huntsville area in years past, but I never felt inclined to tryout for any of them. So, unlike the class prophecy said I would, I did not film any James Bond movies after all. 

        As always, thanks for all you do to keep us connected. Hope to see everyone at the next LLB on Thursday, October 27 if not before when the class of ’66 celebrates their 50th.

(Editor's Note:    Patsy, I loved "WW and the Dixie Dance Kings.")

Subject:    Rin-Tin-Tin Bugle Call
Glenn James
Class of '65

The bugle call at the beginning of "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin" is Reveille. This was the wake up call used by the Boy Scouts at Camp Westmoreland when I went to summer camp. As recall you were a counselor there also.

I was also a faithfully follower of "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin". There were many other shows from that era that I watched, one being The Mickey Mouse Club, so I could see Spin and Marty.

I hope to get to see you and Sue on TV.

(Editor's Note: Sorry, Glenn, Reveille was the bugle call to wake you up. You were not the only one to think that - John Drummond wrote "I think the bugle call was "Reville" (pronounced REV-ell-ee) the military equivalent to a loud, obnoxious alarm clock.  I hated it."

Subject:    Rin-Tin-Tin Bugle Call
Chip Smoak
LHS '66

The bugle call to start each episode is "Assembly".  

This was one of the many live action shows that I was always eager to watch and tried not to miss.  There were not as many animated programs for kids then but the programming was great.  In my opinion, the programming was never quite as good as it was in the '50s.  James Brown, although not seen in many of the reruns shown on television, was an actor in quite a few "B" movies.  Lee Aakers was quite active as a child actor and acted with such stars as John Wayne, Clifton Webb, Ann-Margaret, Barbara Stanwyck and others.

(Editor's Note: The bugle call was also identified correctly by Mike Crowl.) 

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