Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: Herbie J. Plato
Within the pages of this book the author shares the lives, the talents and the inside scoop about many of America’s favorite singers, movie stars and television wonders. Before deciding on which ones to spotlight I realized that I was entering a maze of talent that had so many twists and turns that it would take me at least the amount of pages within this book to review and spotlight all of the talent in it. The first section is titled Jack-of-All-Trades and what better way to start the section than with Jack Webb. As the dry and emotional Sergeant Friday on Dragnet he led the way for his own type of original police work. He sets the bar by giving readers short accounts of so many television and movie icons of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with a plethora of information about each artist making you wish after you read the foreword by everyone’s favorite Batman, Adam West and starting with Jack Webb in the first section you can hardly put it down when next he spotlights Desi Arnaz and his relationship with Lucille Ball, their marriage and subsequent divorce. Learning how the show came to pass and understanding their rocky relationship helps readers get to know him as an actor, father, performer and husband. The book is divided into 8 sections and each one producing stars of the highest caliber. Danny Thomas and the Danny Thomas show and Make Room for Daddy my mom loved, as did my grandmother sharing it with me and telling us about it. Ricky Nelson was a heartthrob and I loved him on American Bandstand and of course the Ozzie and Harriet Show with his parents and brother David. Bobby Sherman and spotlighting that each artist starred in this book is filled with so much information it’s like bringing back some of the long gone stars and helping readers relive their lives and the great experiences that we all had watching them on television. Richard Thomas from the Walton’s and Henry Winkler the Fonz who everyone loves along with the entire Cunningham family. Danny Thomas as the author states had a characteristically familiar look or countenance like that of another of our favorites Jimmy Durante. He is still till this day remembered not only for his acting prowess but for his lifelong leadership of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital which helps and caters to children that have been stricken with disease making him more than just an actor but an outstanding humanitarian. His work continues through his daughter Marlo Thomas.
Within the Jack of All Trades added in we have Johnny Carson the icon from the Tonight Show and my favorite Rod Serling noted for the Twilight Zone /Night Gallery. As the author relates to use Rod Serling’s most “prized creative property,” was the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery more horror geared and depended upon his endless reservoir of ideas and inspired by his obsession with the past and his, “ preoccupation with again mixed in with a measure of courage and faith and a few survival techniques he learned in the army.” CBS bought the Twilight Zone which was aired from 1959 -1964. Then he created the Night Gallery which aired on NBC from 1969-1973. On June 28, 1975 he died but his voice and creative efforts are still aired today. Norman Lear is noted for All in the Family, Maude and One Day at a Time. With the outspoken Archie Bunker and the equally verbal Maude you never know what these main characters will say or what social or political issue they would spotlight. One of everyone’s favorite shows was The Jefferson’s which makes me smile as my family had several cleaning stores too. Good Times was great and Sanford & Son brought us the great and late Red Foxx. Prejudice, injustice, homosexuality and even divorce were the issues he presented in a controversial way in each of his memorable shows which are still aired today. Carroll O’Connor played the prejudice and bigoted Archie Bunker that many loved to hate. The quiet and often suffering at his hand Jean Stapleton appeared to be the naïve and scatterbrained Edith but in reality or was she?
Sonny Bono and Cher were two great performers starring in the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour filled with humor and song. But, Sonny was brilliant and into creating his own style and was the brains behind their show. Ron Howard, Opie on Andy Griffith show and Mayberry RFD was not only a great child star but as an adult he went into producing and directing always concerned about family values and keeping the shows above reproach. Ron Howard is married to the same woman since 1971. There are seven more sections that I will spotlight artists and stars but to find out how they are titled you need to read it for yourself because if I listed them all it would take away from spotlighting more artists. The next artist is Larry Hagman. Dallas as the villain of yet favorite character of many JR and of course I Dream of Jeanie with Barbara Eden as Major Nelson he was one of the most versatile actors. He made you laugh, cry and definitely many people had a love hate relationship with him but he was amazing in his own right. `
That Girl with Marlo Thomas also starred Ted Bessell as Donald Hollinger. Although their personalities were different and her father always managed to try and run the show, That Girl to me was the start of programs with young women that were strong, motivated and did not depend on a man to create their futures. Tony Dow and Jerry Mather’s starred in Leave It to Beaver. If you never watched the program tune into TV Land and watch the reruns. It is still fantastic and the family values that children today would learn from Ward and June Cleaver are still invaluable. The Brady Bunch starred Barry Williams and Christopher Knight and once again with the help Alice and the Brady parents family ideals and values were taught. Barry performed in the Playboy Channel show Camp Playboy and currently is hosting the satellite radio trivia show, The Read Greg Brady’s Totally 70’s Pop Quiz starring Barry Williams. Christopher Knight hosted the series TV Road Trip for the Travel Channel and was involved with the celebrity version of Discovery Health Channel’s Body Challenge. Finally, Robert Wagner who starred in It Takes A Thief and Switch was a dashing and debonair leading man. On It Takes a Thief and also Hart to Hart he then went on to star and produce eight TV reunion movies first for NBC and then the Family Channel. His other credits for short-lived like Lime Street, Hope and Faith and Two and a Half Men. The are so many more stars like Superman’s George Reeves, Rock Hudson, Adam West, The stars of Star Trek, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Deforest Kelley. The icon of Mash Alan Alda really rounds it out as we remember his acting and directing of the show and the high jinks he and the rest of the characters created in order to entertain viewers during a time period when the Vietnam War was prominent in everyone’s mind. Alan has been married to Arlene Alda since 1957. The research is extensive the artists are many and the information will bring back many memories as you take a walk down memory lane, meet these amazing artists and learn just why author Herbie J. Plato considers them Dashing, Daring and Debonair. This book will take you back in time to when TV was really outstanding and when the shows you watched dealt with family values, family relationships and would teach children and young adults how to become more responsible when they get older. Programs where education mattered and where consequences for your actions meant you were not going to do it again as you watch My Three Sons or even Happy Days. Characters like John Travolta who starred in Welcome Back Kotter and in Grease a versatile actor till this day who can either make you laugh, scream, cry or get plain angry. So many great stars that you would be remiss if you do not get a copy of this outstanding book filled with so many interesting biographies about so many talented stars. Dashing, Daring and Debonair: Who’s your Favorite?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine