ICONIC PROPS: Steve McQueen’s “Mare’s Leg” Winchester

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 31•21

Steve McQueen, aka Josh Randall, made famous the Winchester Model 1892 rifle that was modified for an episode of “Trackdown,” featuring a bounty hunter and his “mare’s leg.” The pair were so popular, the two were spun off into a new series, “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” McQueen’s cool, sympathetic portrayal of Josh Randall, along with his unique rifle, became a top ten hit, and launched McQueen’s career into the movies. The “mare’s leg” took on legendary status as well, and has become one of the most well-remembered props in TV history. It also launched a popular toy cap gun, manufactured by Louis Marx & Company. The original toy in mint condition and original box today sells for $650.

Celebrating Black Entertainment of Television: PIONEER: William Marshall – Harlem Detective (1953-54) to Emmy Winning Actor and Producer (1974)

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 30•21

William Marshall (1924 – 2003) began his career with aplomb, landing roles on Broadway with diverse works like Carmen Jones, Othello, and numerous other Shakespeare plays. Working across Europe and America, the classically trained actor quickly established himself as a hot commodity.The London Sunday Times labeled him “The Greatest Othello of Our Time” and Jet Magazine, on January 3, 1952, claimed his as “Hollywood’s Newest Glamour Boy.” He notably starred as abolitionist Frederick Douglas.

Profoundly handsome, his graceful, larger-than-life presence and haunting voice promised a long career. In 1953, WOR-TV in New York began production on “Harlem Detective,” a television series based on the popular books by author Chester Times. William Marshall accepted the leading role playing a police detective, giving him the distinction of being the first African-American to star in a drama on television.As with Hazel Scott a few years before, by the 14th episode, Williams had been labeled as a communist by an influential anti-communist magazine. The show was immediately canceled in January, 1954; fortunately, he was able to survive the smear, and continued with a long career in television, movies, and theater.

In 1974, William Marshall won 2 Emmy awards for a local PBS production of “As Adam Early in the Morning.” Marshall is most often remembered for his “Blacula” films and his two Star Trek episodes in the late 1960’s.IMDB offers this notation: “In addition to his acting and producing work, Marshall taught acting at various universities including University of California, Irvine and at the Mufandi Institute, an African-American arts and music institution in the Watts section of Los Angeles. He did similar work at Chicago’s eta Creative Arts Foundation, which in 1992 named Marshall one of its Epic Men of the 20th Century. Marshall was the unmarried partner for 42 years of Sylvia Gussin Jarrico, former wife of blacklisted screenwriter Paul Jarrico. Marshall died on June 11, 2003.

SOURCES: https://webuyblack.com/…/daily-dose-history-william…/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Marshall_(actor)https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0551234/bioh#williammarshall

Black Entertainment of Television: Iconic Superstar Jackie Robinson

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 30•21

It’s not a stretch to label Jackie Robinson the first African-American superstar on television. His inaugural year in fact, 1947, was the same year National League Baseball began regular broadcasts on network television. And Jackie Robinson was the discussion, initially for the wrong reasons, around television sets across the country.

By October 1947, with the first broadcast of the World Series, and coincidentally, a legendary series by Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees, the “edge-of-your-seat” series generated tremendous excitement for television. And Jackie emerged a superstar.Jackie Robinson’s dignity was evident. His stance on non-violence, and his remarkable talent for baseball, hitting runs, and stealing bases moved the needle toward inclusion and desegregation. 3.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the series finale; with only 10,000 sets in the New York viewing area, the per television viewers numbered 40 to 50 for each set!

Television sales immediately escalated after the series, as did Jackie Robinson’s approval ratings. Jackie became legendary overnight. By 1950, a successful documentary movie was released. Jackie’s unparalleled courage in the game of baseball was noticed and rewarded, despite the occasional set-backs.

He overcame the greatest obstacles to be heralded as one of the greatest of baseball players – In 1949, he had to testify for the House UnAmerican Activities Committee regarding a close friend; he had little option, as he would have certainly been implicated as a communist otherwise. Most remarkable and significant, he had crossed the unfair barriers of racism. He brought into focus that Americans were Americans, no matter their color. Jackie Robinson became one of the most celebrated and honored men walking the entire earth.

Celebrating Black Entertainment in Television: NAT KING COLE: “Madison Ave. is afraid of the dark.”

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 30•21

Nat King Cole was TV’s perennial and favorite guest star in the 1950s and 1960s. Beginning with Ed Sullivan in 1950 (he ultimately made 14 appearances on that show), his smooth vocals and classic songs enamored audiences on the biggest TV shows of the day. Gleason, Skelton, Benny, Berle, Gobel, Paar, and Shore, to name just a few, featured Nat King Cole in over 100 appearances.

In 1956, Cole starred in his own variety show that ran for 49 episodes and making him the first African-American man to star in his own variety series. While well-received, the show never was able to attain an official national sponsor. Without sponsorship, he was forced to end his show December 17, 1957. He said publicly about the situation, “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.”

Nat King Cole was one of the biggest recording starts of the time, landing eight #1 and over 100 hits on the Billboard charts. He had a successful run in the movies with one reel shorts, 18 films total, that played as opening act to movie theater audiences. In 1963, he headlined his own television special for the BBC, “An Evening with Nat King Cole.” In 1991, daughter Natalie Cole recorded an album of her father’s songs, titled and anchored by an “Unforgettable” duet and single, the #1 album sold over 7 million copies, winning 6 grammy awards, including album, song, record, and traditional pop vocal performance.

Celebrating Black Entertainment on Television: First Black Cast TV Commercial

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 30•21

The first commercial broadcast (1947) featuring a black cast. Sponsor is Jax beer.