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Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Past chats with our guests.

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Re: Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Postby Scott_Nollen » March 16th, 2014, 2:48 pm

Hi, everyone. I'm sorry Mike is feeling under the weather, but I will make sure to remind him that he will always be welcome to schedule another visit. He loves to share his endless memories of his life in film and television, and is such a gracious man. Thanks, Moira, for inviting him--Scott

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Re: Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Postby MissGoddess » March 16th, 2014, 7:36 pm

My best wishes for his health. Sorry I missed him.

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Sue Sue Applegate
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Re: Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » March 16th, 2014, 10:15 pm

My best wishes for Mr. Hoey's good health. Thank you so much for visiting, Mr. Hoey.
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Re: Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Postby Rita Hayworth » March 17th, 2014, 3:37 am

I hope you are feeling better and I just wanted to say thanks for coming here and spending time with us. :)

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Re: Welcome to Michael Hoey, Our Guest Author for 3/15 & 3/16

Postby moira finnie » March 20th, 2014, 6:58 am

Here's a nice piece by Michael Hoey from his publisher, BearManor Media on his most recent book on Norman Taurog that may interest those of us intrigued by this topic:

By Michael A. Hoey

Norman Taurog is unjustly accused of directing most of Elvis Presley’s bad movies, but his detractors forget such other directors’ mind-numbing Elvis vehicles as Clambake, Easy Come, Easy Go, Harum Scarum, Frankie and Johnny and Kissin’ Cousins. Directorially speaking, all of Taurog’s Elvis films retain the same professional style as his earlier award-winning films. He wasn’t a celebrated director in the manner of a Hitchcock, Ford, or Wilder, but he was a top craftsman in his field. To this day Taurog remains the youngest director ever to win an Academy Award for his directing of 1931’s Skippy (which was also nominated for Best Picture), and he was nominated again for Boys Town in 1938 (which was also nominated for Best Picture), and in which Spencer Tracy won his second consecutive Oscar for his performance as Father Flanagan. To really appreciate Norman Taurog’s work you need to go back and examine the more than one hundred silent and sound two-reel comedy shorts, as well as the 78 feature films that represent his total handiwork over the length and breadth of his professional life.

Norman Taurog’s career spans virtually the entire history of films from the silent era to the Elvis Presley era. In less than eleven years, before celebrating his 32nd birthday, Taurog wrote and directed 102 two-reel comedies starring comedians Larry Semon, Lloyd Hamilton, Oliver Hardy, Lupino Lane, Bobby Clark, Jack Benny and W.C. Fields. Over the next 38 years he would direct such stars as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier, Ethel Merman, Deanna Durbin, Alice Faye, Cary Grant, Kathryn Grayson, Van Johnson, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Eleanor Powell, Jane Powell and Spencer Tracy.

He did six films with Mickey Rooney, four with Judy Garland, two with Mario Lanza, six with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, two more with Jerry Lewis alone, and nine films with Elvis Presley.

He directed elaborate musicals such as The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935), Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), Girl Crazy (1943) and Words and Music (1948); serious dramas including Skippy (1931) and its sequel Sooky (1931), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Boys Town (1938) and its sequel Men of Boys Town (1941), Young Tom Edison (1940), and the story of the development of the first Atomic bomb, The Beginning or the End (1947); and contemporary comedies like A Bedtime Story (1933) with Maurice Chevalier, We’re Not Dressing (1934) with Bing Crosby and Carole Lombard, You Can’t Have Everything (1937) with Alice Faye and Don Ameche, The Bride Goes Wild (1948) with Van Johnson and June Allyson, Room For One More (1952) with Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, Bundle of Joy (1956) with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher and Onionhead (1958) with Andy Griffith.

And he did the majority of these films without the benefit of sight in his left eye. Taurog was a diabetic, who personally injected his dose of insulin every morning into his thigh, and eventually doctors informed him that he was suffering from nonproliferative retinopathy, a condition brought about by his diabetes. It was caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye; the vessels would swell and leak fluid, or in some cases abnormal vessels would grow on the surface of the retina. Years later medical science would develop laser treatments, if begun early enough, that would destroy the new blood vessels and seal off leaking ones, thereby halting the progress of the disease; but for Norman Taurog in 1941 the prognosis wasn’t encouraging, the condition was too far advanced for doctors to treat, and in all likelihood he would lose the sight of his left eye. When that eventually happened, Taurog took a deep breath, adjusted to using just his right eye to observe, and kept right on making films. And in all of the years that I knew him, until his condition worsened, I never noticed any compromise in the way he dealt with people or directed his actors.

There’s an old adage in the film business, “You’re only as good as your last picture,” and fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your taste in Elvis Presley movies, I wrote the screenplay for Norman Taurog’s last picture, Live a Little, Love a Little (1968). Norman was my friend and mentor and I worked beside him on each of his last eight films. We met just as my career was getting started and his was entering his final decade. I was a young producer at Warner Bros. Studios in 1962 when he directed my first film Palm Springs Weekend (1963). For the next six years I worked side by side with him as a writer and idea man on every one of those eight films (five of them starred Elvis Presley) until his retirement in 1968. There were actually ten films, if you count the two short films that we made to raise funds for the building program at Harvard School for Boys, the semi-military prep school on Coldwater Canyon in Studio City, California, where his teenage son Jonathan was a student. I remained Norman Taurog’s friend until his death from cancer in 1981.

We would like to thank Michael for writing such an interesting introduction to his book, which you can order from our website:
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