Monday, January 17, 2011


 Today at 'Days of Our Lives',  being a holiday (no "Comm") --  We had a delicious catered lunch---  while in line Holly (pretty, smart, sweet, --young producers assistant) mentioned I had written a new entry---  and that she was happy with my return---  (I hadn't....) Well, that got me going--  so thank you Holly---

I was born in Burbank 46 years ago today---  My parents lived in Sherman Oaks  in a 'modern ranch' that they had built-----  It's a long story why---  (another post...) they decided to relocate to Newport Beach in Orange County---  I was a year old---

Today, the mention of 'Newport' implies the impression of 'over the top' craziness--  back then, however-- -- it was a good place to raise a family--  and was affordable--  

They found a 1200 sq. ft. house in a development called "Bayshores"--

Bayshores was the first Irvine Company development--  starting in the early fifties--  200 (more or less) houses --  some fronting on Newport Harbor--  It was then a mix of fancy and normal---  For my first twelve years-- it was my reality--  Two beaches are there--  the "swim" beach and the "play" beach--  those terms are still used today---  It was a simpler time--  Being safe--  kids were allowed to roam free doing whatever---  It was an amazing period---  southern California in the 60/70's---  We learned every inch of street and alley there---  our parents were all friends and organized cocktail parties--  I still remember 'chaparoneing' home drunken guests---  (I was ten--).  It was expensive to fly-- so vacations were confined to Palm Springs, Big Bear and Catalina--

Bayshores (and Newport for that matter) has changed--  This happened, maybe in the eighties---  Still, when I return--  There is a thread of what once was---

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is Good?

Went to the Pasadena Museum of California Art today (literally across the street from The Maryland..).  Two shows there seemed like they might be interesting--  The main one, 'Franz A. Bischoff Gardens and Grandeur' was fantastic (actually both were..) -- got me thinking--  Bischoff (1964-1929) immigrated to Pasadena from Austria around 1900.  He is known --it seems-- for his earlier work--- rose laden painted porcelain vases---  Very 'Grandma'--- I'm sure popular in their time--  I went into the show with judgement about that--  His later work--  Large oil paintings of --again-- roses..  was absolutely beautiful---
He managed to pull off them off--  transcending what might have been stupid overly sweet paintings into something interesting--  I thought to myself,  I can't think of one painter today that can do this--  there is a gutsy honest direct quality--  immediate too--  they are not just 'pretty'--  although they were--  This is something I'd like to have in my work.  I'm adding Bischoff to my list of artists that gets/got a bad rap--  Sargent, Leroy Neiman, Norman Rockwell, Georgia O'Keefe--  plus a whole lot of illustrators--  Solid good painting--  only to be dismissed by the general opinion of what is good--

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chet Baker

Chet Baker was the epitome of what I value in an artist.  Just effortless--  It all rolled out--
Somehow he had that mysterious thing--- knowing the right choices---   iconic---   Beautiful and free--  I've played his music for years--   yet never seen the Bruce Weber film on his life until tonight--  I've kind of gone about it backwards---   Like several artists I admire--  Judy Garland, Joan Mitchell, Karen Carpenter, Cass Elliot --  he had a (hell of a) dark side---  somehow that fed into what made them great---  a bittersweet edge---  Well, on that happy note I'll say goodnight---   

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Star isn't Born

I didn't do any theatre for three years after, "The King and I"---  those years were spent learning the guitar---  I was obsessed with The Carpenters and to a lesser degree, John Denver---  My guitar 'period' (1975-78) was an extension of that.  I became good enough to play at rest homes and (strangers...) weddings.  To this day I'm not bad....

My first trip back to the stage was a big lead in, "Mame"---  followed by playing a scrubby child at Newport Theatre Arts Center musical version of, "A Christmas Carol"--- Then began  the beginning of my Hollywood career---   Joining "South Coast Actors Studio" ---  this place was fantastic---  located 'off Bristol' in Costa Mesa---  They offered all sorts of classes--  acting, improve, cold reading, dance (tap-- a big love..) and on and on---  Also they had an in house agent---  booking interviews---  I loved the place---  soon I was landing some work--  My first gig was my biggest (so far....)--   a commercial for an alcohol rehab hospital----  I played a young boy angry at his drunken father---  screaming "I'll never be a drunk; I don't want to be like you!" followed by  hurling fishing poles across the garage..... very dramatic....  I did one or two more commercials--  in addition to 'featured extra' work in two films--  From there I landed an agent in LA---  I was discovered in an acting showcase---   (doing an 'improve' in which I was a paraplegic walking for the first time---)

My new agent,  Don Schwartz was 'big time'---  his office was on Sunset across the street from Le Dome--
He schooled us adolescents at his Sunset plaza adjacent home--  We would study Garbo films--- then have discussions about it--   Acting interviews came maybe three times a week---  Nothing delivered---  The whole thing became a burden and I quit---  Today, I'm glad I experienced the acting thing---  It's so far away from my life now--  Still I see actors every day---  They arrive on my show and I so get it---

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beatrice Lambe

My maternal Grandmother was born Beatrice Lambe in 1897.  The story is vague regarding her early childhood--    her mother died (Beatrice was two...)  from then on she was raised by her paternal grandmother--   ending up in Chicago.  Beautiful and outgoing--  and yearning for a life of glamour---  She managed to land a contract  at Essanay Studios---  a big deal--  Essanay also handled, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix, Wallace Berry, and eventually even Charlie Chaplin--
Her first (and sadly only...) big role "In The Palace of the King" (1915)  was shot in Chicago--  The studio asked her to come to 'Hollywood'---- my great great aunt forbid the idea--  This was one of my grandmothers favorite stories--  how fame was snatched away--  preventing her destiny!  There is lots of documentation on "In The Palace..." --  None list Beatrice Lambe as the star--  still I'm believing her--

She married at around 20--  Had my uncle Jack in 1920--  Sadly the marriage was brief and was annulled--
For the next few years she worked doing X-rays in a dental lab--  She met my Grandfather, Tom Burns (my namesake..) married and had my aunt Betty in 1926 followed by my mother Marilyn (after Broadway star Marilyn Miller) in 1928.  Aunt Betty (or "Beppy") inherited my grandmothers aspirations--  she too was a knock-out and ambitious--  (always being mistaken for Betty Grable...) in the late forties my aunt moved to Los Angeles and married--  Soon to be followed by the rest of the family--  My aunts new husband was good buddies with my father Jack Early---  It was at the bar at the Biltmore hotel (Palm Springs) where the date for my parents was set up---  early in 1950--  but I digress--  back to Beatrice--

Tom and Beatrice lived first in the valley, then Granada Hills---finally settling in Sun City California in the early sixties--  My grandfather died of cancer in April 1964--  I was born nine months later-- remaining in Sun City, Beatrice married once again--  to Fred Rogers---  This time is the first memory of my grandmother--  She loved to perform, garden and was up for anything---  husband Fred became mentally unstable--  began to threaten her---  I won't even go into the scary stuff he pulled--  like earlier the marriage was annulled--  (as a side note--  25 years later --she met my dog Fred --  her response:  "Why would you name him that"...)
My family moved her to Orange County during the drama with Fred--  I'm guessing 1978--  soon after my uncle Jack passed away--  a huge blow to my grandmother--  From there she moved to Laguna Hills into a 'retirement hotel'---  while there she met her fourth husband,  Paul Fulton--  a sweet man who adored her---  They were very happy, having their honeymoon at the Hotel Laguna--  She was 82-- Paul
passed on  maybe five years later--

One could easily see the appeal of my Grandmother--  remaining beautiful and always up for fun--
She lived to be 102--  When she was 99 I won an Emmy award for my work on 'Days of Our Lives'
(Please forgive if I seem like I'm name dropping---  I hate that stuff.....)  Anyway--  Showing her the award---  the way she grasped it with 'iron hands'....  I was thrilled that it made her so happy---  after that, when I would visit her---  she would always ask, "where's the Emmy"....  It meant so much to her---   Her original spirit was still going---  Truly, I miss her today--- but love that into her hundreds---  she was proud---  we got each other--

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Clay no Chips

This is my third try at writing about Catalina Island.  Felt my earlier attempts were confusing --  being my favorite place in the world--  there's too much to cover in one post--  So my goal here is to keep it simple---

I've collected the pottery made on Catalina since around 1995--  The operation began in the late twenties--- Island owner William Wrigley was looking for a trade that would employ the islanders--  It was discovered that the native clay on the island could be used for tile and pottery--  He decided to take advantage of that and built a tile factory near Avalon @ Pebbly beach.  The Casino building, built in 1928 used Catalina roof tiles---  shops were set up on the island and 'Alvaro Street' in Los Angeles--  Soon it was discovered that the island clay was unstable--  around 1932--  and was mixed with 'white clay' to add strength---   Tiles, vases, ashtrays, dinnerware, backgammon tables, urns and wall murals were created---  The depression eventually took it's toll on pottery sales and production moved to Glendale in 1937--  Today Catalina is known to be the most sought after of all California pottery of that era..
The first piece I bought was a 'Mandarin yellow' ashtray--  very exciting--  From then on I was completely addicted! This was in the days before ebay--  there were deals everywhere---  also lots of it tended to end up in Pasadena.  My friends, Jim, Gerry and Larry and I would dream of what we might find next--- We scoured antique stores in all parts of Southern California.  I even went diving in the ocean where pottery had been pushed into the sea--  amazingly there were fragments laying on the ocean floor!  Between us we amassed quite a collection--  even befriend the 'inner circle' of the 'Catalina world'. Around the year 2000 prices went crazy and we all stopped buying---  To this day, however I continue to love my pottery---  It reminds me of beautiful Avalon--  Plus it looks fantastic in our new home at 'The Maryland'--

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christine Ebersole

About 12 years ago--   I was invited by a friend to see a coworker of his sing at the Cinegrill in Hollywood--  He worked on the short lived sit-com "Ink"--  She was on his show, Had never heard of her--  The tickets were free--  so I was game--   In Los Angeles, lots of things crop up to see--  Through the years I've seen dozens these shows...  Some okay, some bad--  whatever--  give me a glass of Chardonnay and I'm happy--   I'm a tough customer-- few are memorable--
Well, the lights go down and out romps Christine Ebersole--  Her first number was "Shanghai" a cute song I knew from Doris Day--   kind of a 'throw away' novelty song--  I thought-- OK, well that was cute---  After that everything falls into a blurr--  She must have sung a ballad next, I don't know.....  Her voice was so pure, clean, sincere---  A mix of Joni Mitchell/Judy Collins/Kathryn Grayson/Kate Smith--  Fabulous--  I was in a trance---  Then came her between song banter---  Funny!  Seriously---  I've never enjoyed a show more than that one---  Thank god they recorded the evening---  (I can hear my laughter on the CD!)

Since then--  Christine has won Tony's and is now the darling of Broadway---  Love, Love, Love her---  I'm a big fan---