True or False with Edmund O’Brien

It is detective week here on Ron’s Amazing Stories. While our target of this truth versus fiction is actually known for being a character actor, he also did his fair amount of detection. Who is our subject this time? It is Edmond O’Brien. Let’s get started.

Edmund O'Brien 1950sHe was one of the most-respected character actors in American cinema. Born in New York City, The Bronx, O’Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician?

True – O’Brien reportedly was tutored by neighbor Harry Houdini. Also, he worked with another magician, Orson Welles, in the Mercury Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar”, appearing as “Mark Antony”. He took part in student theatrics in high school and majored in drama at Columbia University.

The hard boiled actor had his big break on Broadway?

True – He made his Broadway debut at the age of 21 in 1936. Later that year, played the part of, “The Gravedigger” in the legendary production of “Hamlet” starring Shakespearean actor John Gielgud. Four years later, he would play “Mercutio” opposite Laurence Olivier in his 1940 Broadway production of “Romeo & Juliet”. That is some very exclusive company!

With all of his great acting he never won Oscar, which is always true of character actors?

False – O’Brien won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and also received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as a drunken senator who ferrets out an attempted coup d’etat in Seven Days in May (1964).

O’Brien never served in the military?

False – During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force. He also and appeared in the Air Force Broadway play Winged Victory by Moss Hart. He appeared alongside Red Buttons, Karl Malden, Kevin McCarthy, Gary Merrill, Barry Nelson, and Martin Ritt. He toured in the production for two years, and after returning from his wartime service with the Army Air Force built up a distinguished career as a supporting actor in A-list films.

O’Brien learn the best rule of performing from James Cagney?

TrueJames Cagney once said that he had only one rule, he would tap his heart and he would say, “Play it from here, kid.” O’Brien always did and he believed it’s the best rule for any performer. He could play a scene 90 ways and never repeat himself. He did this to keep himself fresh. [Writer’s Note: I try to do this with every podcast produce]

That is it for this this true a false session. I hope you enjoyed learning about one of America’s greats in Edmond O’Brien.

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we have a scary story about a shadow, a archaeologist gets into trouble and of course we continue with our Five Minute Mysteries. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

August 31 – Rope Of Sand – (RAS297)
September 07 – Memory Lane #1
September 14 – The Potter’s Of Frisk – RAS298
September 21 – Detective Week – RAS299
September 28 –  
October 05 – Old Time Horror W/Jim Harold – (RAS300)

True or False with Burt Lancaster

We tune up the search engine once again for Ron’s Amazing Stories true or false. This time we focus on another American icon, Burt Lancaster. Let’s start with the truth.

Burt Lancaster circa 1950True – Burt Lancaster was not only was one of America’s darlings, but his background was the stuff of legend. He was one of five children, born in 1913 in Manhattan, NY, and was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics.

Burt joined the circus as an acrobat?

True – Lancaster met Nick Cravat, with whom he developed a lifelong partnership. Together they learned to act in local theatre productions and circus arts at Union Settlement.  Together they formed the acrobat duo Lang and Cravat in the 1930s and joined the Kay Brothers Circus. They continued this until Burt was injured and had to give up the circus life.

Burt didn’t find acting until after World War II?

False – It was in the Army during WW II that he was introduced to the USO and acting. At first he liked the idea of acting, but it was not his first choice for a career. He tried out for the play, A Sound of Hunting and his performance attracted the interest of Hollywood agent, Harold Hecht. This lead to an eight-movie contract and his first film, The Killers (1946).

Burt attended some the finest acting schools in the world?

False – He was a self-taught actor who learned the business as he went along. Lancaster sought demanding roles, and was prepared to work for less pay than he might have earned elsewhere. He even helped to finance movies in whose artistic value he believed in.

Burt became a producer/director in the later stages of his career?

True – He chose not to sign with a major studio. Harold Hecht promised him the opportunity to produce their own movies within five years of hitting Hollywood. Hecht kept his promise and the two formed a partnership production company under the name Norma Productions (the duo later changed the company’s name to Hecht-Lancaster Productions). He also mentored directors such as Sydney Pollack and John Frankenheimer and appeared in several of the firms films. Including Lancaster’s last film, Field of Dreams (1989) .

Burt Lancaster never won an Oscar?

False – Lancaster made many great films during his career:  Criss Cross (1949), The Crimson Pirate (1952), Trapeze (1956), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Train (1964), Atlantic City (1980), and many others. He was nominated for an Oscar four times, and took home the golden statuette for the title role in Elmer Gantry (1960). In addition, his company produced several successful films, most notably the Best Picture Oscar-winner, Marty (1955).

Closing Thoughts?

Burt Lancaster lead an impressive life. He made many films and produced or directed many more. He held actors Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando in high esteem and said that they were the only two men whose talent intimidated him. Lancaster died in his Century City apartment in Los Angeles from a heart attack in 1994 at the age of 80.

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we will feature Burt Lancaster in a reprise of his role as a diamond thief in Rope of Sand. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

August 03 – HE #17 – Out Of Body
August 10 – You Were Wonderful – (RAS294)
August 17 – The MUFON Story – (RAS295)
August 24 – Rope of Sand – (RAS296)
August 31 – Science Fiction Week – (RAS297)

True or False with Frank Sinatra

Q1 – Frank Sinatra was born December 12, 1915  in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants. He almost died at birth.

True – Frank almost died during childbirth – the doctor had trouble removing the 13 ½ pound baby Frank from his mother, scarring him with forceps and puncturing his eardrum. Frank’s grandmother, Rose, noticed the baby wasn’t breathing and held him under cold running water until he finally began to breathe. Because of his eardrum he would not be allowed to serve in the military.

Q2 – Amazing as it sounds Franks Sinatra and Bing Crosby never met.

False – Frank knew he had to be a singer after seeing Bing Crosby live at Loew’s Journal Square in New Jersey. Also, he first appeared on-screen with his hero Bing Crosby in the 1956 movie High Society, which also marked Grace Kelly’s final performance before she became Princess of Monaco.

Q3 – Sinatra had his first musical break with local music group The Hoboken Four in 1935, winning the popular Major Bowes and His Original Amateur Hour radio contest.

True – After his radio success he was able to sign a contracts. in the swing era, with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. The rest was history and he went on to sell 150 million records worldwide.

Q4 – Frank Sinatra was not allowed to entertain the troops for most of World War II.

True – He did travelled to Europe to entertain the U.S.O. troops during World War II in 1945, with Phil Silvers. However, the FBI prevented Frank from traveling on previous tours. Briefly, there were rumors reported by columnist Walter Winchell that Sinatra paid $40,000 to avoid the service, but the FBI found this to be without merit.

Q5 – Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped and held for ransom in December of 1963.

True – Frank Sr. paid a ransom of $240,000 to free the then 19 year-old Frank Jr. from kidnappers. After being held for several days, Frank Jr. was released safely. The FBI eventually caught the kidnappers and recovered most of the ransom money.

Q6 – Sinatra never did as much as people thought. In truth he really had just a few hit songs and made two movies (High Society and From Here to Eternity).

False – Whoa, that was really false! He performed on more than 1,400 recordings in a 6-decade career, appeared in more than 60 films, and produced 8 movies. He actually won an Academy Award for, From Here to Eternity, he starred in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), and received critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate (1962). The awards and accolades are too many to list here. You can go to this page to learn more.

Q7 – Frank Sinatra raised millions of dollars for his work with various charities.

False – Throughout his life, Frank Sinatra raised more than one billion dollars for charities around the world. How about that?!

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we have something special from Frank Sinatra, have a story about a terrible murder committed in the 1940’s and much more! You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

June 29 – C-Chute – (RAS290)
July 06 – Replay Cypherus Canyon With Jim Harold
July 13 – Tale From Development Hell – (RAS291)
July 20 – Stagecoach Stop – (RAS292)
July 27 – The Black Dahlia – (RAS293)
August 03 – RAS294 or HE16?

True or False with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

I remember as a kid sitting down on Saturday night to watch a local program called Adventure Theater. It played great old movies like Robin Hood, The Exile, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Ivanhoe. It was a treat to see these films from the 30’s 40’s and 50’s.  One of the frequent actors on the program was Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  In memory of that and to have some fun, lets play true or false with the man.

Q1 – In the days of silent films, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (1883-1939) was the king of dramatic actors. He surged across American motion picture screens performing dangerous stunts such as jumping from one high balcony to another or swinging by a rope from an old pirate ship. Fairbanks was an expert swordsman and handler of guns, a fine athlete, and managed to win the hand of the leading lady with perfect manners in almost every film he made.

False – Well, actually that is very true but that description belongs to Douglas Fairbanks Sr. our target’s father. I have watched a few of those silent films that the man truly was a marvel.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.Q2 – Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born in New York City, the only child of actor Douglas Fairbanks and his first wife, Anna Beth Sully. His parents divorced when he was nine years old, and both remarried. He lived with his mother in New York, California, Paris and London.

True – Yep, that is our guy, and for the record he is no less amazing than his father.

Q3 – Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was a war hero?

True – For his part in planning the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the United States Navy’s Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor), the Italian War Cross for Military Valor, the French Légion d’honneur, the Croix de guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross. Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valor displayed while serving on U.S. PT boats. Fairbanks stayed in the US Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired as a Captain in 1954.

Q4 – Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was married to Joan Crawford?

True – His first notable relationship was with the actress Joan Crawford, whom he began to date seriously during the filming of Our Modern Maidens. Fairbanks and Crawford married on June 3, 1929 at St. Malachi in New York City. Fairbanks was only 19, and Crawford was four years older.

Q5 – Fairbanks has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame?

False – Fairbanks has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for motion pictures, one for television and, one for radio. In 1969 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Best Dressed List.

Q6 – Douglas FairBanks Jr. was buried with his dad.

True – On the morning of May 7, 2000, Fairbanks died at the age of 90 of a heart attack and was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, in the same tomb as his father.

There you have it. A short but look at the life and times of one of Hollywood’s best.  If you want to know more about the Fairbanks Family Museum Website.

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we have a tribute to Douglas Fairbanks. We also have a listener’s story all the way from Inverness, Scotland. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

May 04 – Fairbanks Special – (RAS284)
May 11 – Suspense – (RAS285)
May 18 – Three listeners tales revisited – (RAS286)
May 25 – The Horror Express #16
June 01 – (RAS287)

True or False with Louis Armstrong

Time to play America’s favorite game, True or False with Louis Armstrong. How well do you know that great trumpeter and band leader? Is he just another name to you? -or- have you heard those sweet baritone notes before. Well, we are going to take a minute and review some highlights of the man. Are you ready for True or False with Louis Armstrong.

Q1 – Let’s start with some true facts

Louis ArmstrongTrue – Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo and Pops, was an American jazz musician. Armstrong was a charismatic, innovative performer whose created the artform known as improvised soloing. He was one of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century.

Q2 – Louis was a trumpet player

False – Well, it is also true. He first achieved fame as a cornet player, later on switching to trumpet. What is the difference? They both play the same notes and they sound virtually the same. In appearance, the trumpet looks a bit longer and more slender than a cornet. The real difference has to do with the way the tubing of the instrument flares. A cornet is more cone shaped or conical than a trumpet.

Q3 – Louis Armstrong was born on July 4, 1900?

False – Armstrong often stated in public interviews that he was born on July 04, 1900 (Independence Day in the USA), a date that has been noted in many biographies. Although he died in 1971, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that his true birthdate of August 4th, 1901 was discovered through the examination of baptismal records.

Q3 – Louis learn to play in a band called The Colored Waifs.

False – Armstrong first learned to play in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he had been sent multiple times for general delinquency. His big crime? He fired his stepfather’s pistol into the air at a New Year’s Eve celebration. (Police records confirm this).

Q4 – Louis Armstrong was Jewish?

True – His parents abandoned him early on in life and he was raised by the Karnofskys, a Russian-Jewish immigrant family. To express gratitude towards the Karnofskys, Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life.

Q5 – Louis Armstrong attended the University of New Orleans?

False – Armstrong played on the riverboats of New Orleans with the well-regarded band of Fate Marable which toured on a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River. He described his time with Marable as “going to the University,” since it gave him a much wider experience working with written arrangements.

Q6 – Armstrong owes his success to Joe “King” Oliver.

True –  Joe “King” Oliver was a mentor and father figure to the young musician. In 1919, Joe Oliver resigned his position in Kid Ory’s band, then regarded as the best jazz group in New Orleans, and left town. Armstrong replaced his mentor, playing second trumpet. Louis soon was promoted to first trumpet. The rest is history.

There you have it some facts about the man, the myth, that is Louis Armstrong. I hope you enjoyed this little trip into the past.  You can learn more about his life on his Bio Page on Biography.Com.

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we have an eclectic group of stories that should tickle your funnybone, mystify you and make you say “umm what?” You can listen to this podcast this Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

February 23 – Cops and Robbers – (RAS #277)
March 02 – Old Time Horror VI – Replay
March 09 – Tribute to Louis Armstrong (RAS #278)
March 16 – (RAS #279)
March 23 – (RAS #280)
March 30 – The Horror Express #15?