Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Strictly Personal' illustrations by Charles Rodrigues (1964) - - Plus: The tawdry world of Leo Guild

Like many, it was in the 1970s that I first took notice of cartoonist Charles Rodrigues' work.

It was for his strip 'The Aesop Brothers, Siamese Twins', which ran regularly in the comics pages of National Lampoon.

That would always remain my personal association with his name and his artwork, though over the years I'd discover that it had been just one publication among several to print his cartoons on a regular basis.

Rodrigues was born on September 9th, 1926, was of Portuguese heritage, and lived most of his life in rural Massachusetts.

After his service with the Navy in WWII, he married and raised a family.

His long affiliation with the magazine Stereo Review (now called 'Sound & Vision') began with its first issue in
February of 1958 (when it was called 'Hi-Fi and Music Review', later 'HiFi Review' and then 'HiFi/Stereo Review', until 1968 when the name settled to 'Stereo Review').

His cartoons for that magazine were geared for audiophiles, and the humor would often (but not always) depend on a reader's knowledge of audio equipment.

Rodrigues remained a regular contributor there for decades, and drew similarly-themed Ham and CB Radio-centric cartoons for 'Electronics Illustrated' magazine in the '60s and '70s.

In addition to the Lampoon and occasional appearances in Playboy and magazines like Look (see below) and others, his gag cartoons also ran regularly in Cracked Magazine for many years.

He was also a syndicated newspaper cartoonist, with two long-running strips; 'Charlie' (described as being like a gloomier 'Ziggy') and 'Casey The Cop' ▼.

(Follow this link for another example of the 'Casey' strip.)

Charles Rodrigues died at the age of 77 on June 14, 2004, following a brief illness.

The tone of his cartoons (if not the artistic style) was often similar in dark temperament to cartoonists like Charles Addams or Virgil Partch or his contemporary, Gahan Wilson.

Though the work of Rodrigues was seldom overtly macabre, certainly within the pages of
National Lampoon he more than adequately portrayed 'taboo' subjects with regularity, to the point that in my own case it was almost more shocking (having first associated him with NatLamp) to discover how relatively tame and genteel his cartoons could be that appeared elsewhere.

In describing Rodrigues in his book 'A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever', author Josh Karp wrote:

"Charles Rodrigues was a devout Catholic who despised humor of a blasphemous or sexual
nature yet thought nothing of submiting thick, fuzzy cartoons that made humor out of the handicapped, epileptics and dwarfs as they tried to use the toilet or perform other everyday activities."

Collected here are a few Rodrigues illustrations from an old paperback, 'Strictly Personal' - - A "hilarious" collection of (supposedly authentic) newspaper 'personals column' ads.

The book was first published in 1964, and its tendency towards the mildly risqué fit right in with many of the slightly racy humor and cartoon paperbacks printed at the time by Fawcett's Gold Medal Books.

(click on images to ENLARGE
in a new window)

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

Below, ▼ two one-panel Rodrigues cartoons that appeared in Look Magazine in 1968.

- And one more 'Stereo Review' panel (date unknown).

ADDENDUM, 1.13.09: Check out some more Charles Rodrigues cartoons from a 1966 paperback collection, 'Spitting On The Sheriff And Other Diversions' in a follow-up post!

- - Finally, a bit of tangential info with regard to the 'Strictly Personal' book.

The 'compiler/editor' was Leo Guild, a name that may be familiar to readers of trash fiction and old
'tell-all' celebrity biographies of questionable authenticity.

Guild had been a publicist for Warner Bros. beginning in the 1940s, had a long-running column in
The Hollywood Reporter, wrote Radio and TV scripts, and was occasionally credited as a Hollywood Producer.

Some time in the late '40s he began authoring books, mostly pulp fiction, but also celebrity biographies, gambling guides, 'bachelor' joke books and others, well into the 1970s.

He received perhaps his best credits for the bio 'Zanuck: Hollywood's Last Tycoon', while his work 'The Fatty Arbuckle Case' is viewed as being largely embellished fiction.

A few other titles by Leo Guild - -

-Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman
(by Hedy Lamarr and Leo Guild)

- Hollywood Screwballs

- Confidential Sex Survey

- What Are The Odds (follow link for a review at
Your Neighborhood Librarian)

- Cons and Lovers

- Mistress of Cuba (as Rita Benuto)

- The Girl Who Loved Black: White Girls Who Love Black Pimps,
the True Story of One Who Did

- Street of Ho's

- Black Bait: the True Story of Lila, a Foxy, Fast
Race Track Swinger

- Black Streets of Oakland

- The Senator's Whore

- I Was Kidnapped by Idi Amin

Leo Guild's masterpiece (or his 'Plan 9', if you will) would appear to be his 1972 novel 'The Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman', described as "...the most craptastically awful book ever written".

A 2007 article in Seattle's The Stranger supplied an overview of Guild's career, and a description of this novel.

- Follow link to 'The Worst Pulp Novelist Ever: Remembering Leo Guild'

Author Paul Collins followed this piece with some further elaboration at his Weekend Stubble blog.
- Click over to 'King Hack'.

- As if that weren't sufficient, you can read a further review of 'The Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman' over at The Groovy Age of Horror.

Leo Guild and Charles Rodrigues' book 'Strictly Personal' was released early in 1964.
When the Fall TV season began that year, Leo Guild received writer's credit for the new CBS sitcom
'My Living Doll', though essentially all he'd provided was the idea.

The program starred Bob Cummings as a psychologist given the task of caring for Rhoda, a robot fashioned to look like a real human female, played by Julie Newmar.

The series was basically a variation on the formula CBS had used the year before with their show 'My Favorite Martian', though capable of employing saucier situations than might be attainable with Ray Walston.

- Follow link to one of several video clips available at YouTube.

'My Living Doll' lasted only one season, though it did leave us with the phrase 'Does not compute'.

The following year, NBC countered with 'I Dream of Jeannie'.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Let's remember Eartha Kitt (1927 - 2008)

Today's news of Eartha Kitt's passing has helped to put a bit of a damper on this Christmas, except that it gives an opportunity to look over a few highlights of the career of this charismatic singer/actress.

Thanks Ms. Kitt, for all that you gave us.

She was 81, and remained busy through most of her long career.

Her final performance was just last month, and according to an obituary in The Independent, that Chicago appearance was taped for a PBS special about Kitt's career that is scheduled to air this upcoming Februrary.

Reading obituaries and online bios and her Wikipedia entry will give you a general overview of
Eartha Kitt's life, so what I've rounded up here are just a few additional links and images that are worth noting...

(Click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

Lots of Eartha's music can be heard at, including most if not all the tracks from the albums 'Miss Kitt to You', and ' Person at the Plaza, and 'The Best of Eartha Kitt. (Follow links)

Likewise, a wealth of Eartha Kitt video clips are available at YouTube:
- Performing 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy', one of several excerpts from a 1957 live TV appearance on Nat King Cole's show.

- Film excerpts of Eartha and co-star
Sammy Davis, Jr. in the movie trailer and 'mambo fantasy' sequence from 1959's
'Anna Lucasta'

- An odd bit of British newsreel footage from 1960; 'Eartha Kitt Keeps Fit'- - A work-out in preparation for 'Talk Of The Town', her successful London stage revue that year.

Below ▼, from Swedish television in 1962, reprising 'I Want To Be Evil', one of her biggest mid-1950's hit songs.

Like the several other 1962 clips from Sweden's 'Kaskad' program, any disconcerting elements via the in-studio lip-synching are more than made up for by creative camera angles and Ms. Kitt's stage presence.

- An infamous bit of controversy surrounded Eartha Kitt in
January, 1968 when she was one of many women invited to the White House by Lady Bird Johnson to discuss the problems of juvenile delinquency in America.

Kitt caused a stir when she spoke up and declared that American youth was rebelling against the war in Vietnam.

It was the first time that anyone had spoken out against the war at a White House function.

It upset the First Lady, and brought Eartha Kitt lots of bad press and the wrath of LBJ.

She was effectively blacklisted in the US for several years, during which time she performed abroad.

There's a good accounting of the events in a posting at the blog Undercover Black Man.
(Follow link)

Below ▼, a 1970 TV performance of 'Let's Do It'...

More video...
- A 1981 TV interview with concert footage.

- A more recent cable TV interview on the Skip E. Lowe Show, and performing
'Here's To Life' in 1992 on 'The Whoopi Goldberg Show'.

...and two text pieces:
- A 2001 interview with OutSmart magazine, and 'Still in the Limelight, on Her Own Terms', a 2006 interview from The New York Times.

Below ▼, as a club diva in 1986. The video for 'This Is My Life' includes several pieces of vintage footage from earlier in Eartha's career...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

(Link:) Hanna-Barbera trove on Flickr!

(Reposted from 'Brief Window')

Follow the link over to Flickr and take a look at slappy427's photostream for a beautiful and eclectic set of Hanna-Barbera artwork and ephemera.

(A few examples here)

Photos, memorabilia, concept art and more from nowadays and back in the day, with an emphasis on some of the more obscure characters from the animated world of

Curator slappy427 is a cartoonist and avid enthusiast for all things HB, and has shared lots of truly fun images!

See also:
His blog, Hanna Barberian.

(found via Cartoon SNAP)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lars Gullin Quartet - 'Danny's Dream' b/w 'Be Careful' (1954)

Swedish jazz artist / composer Lars Gullin (1928 - 1976) was a baritone sax player whose style was reminiscent of fellow baritone players Serge Chaloff and Gerry Mulligan, though the 'chamber jazz' sound on this single also puts me in mind of Jimmy Giuffre.

Beginning in the 1950s, he became well-known for touring with Chet Baker and other jazz musicians when they'd visit from America to play dates in Europe.

Health problems and other complications related to Gullin's narcotics addictions plagued him throughout most of his career, and though he made some fine recordings, many discussions about him tend towards what might have been...

- You can read extensive biographical notes at The Official Lars Gullin Website.

(click on image ▼ to enlarge liner notes in a new window)

Listen to:
Lars Gullin Quartet - Danny's Dream
(EmArcy Records 45, 1954)
(click for audio)

Band lineup on this 45:

Lars Gullin - baritone sax
Rolf Berg - guitar
George Riedel - bass
Robert Edman - drums

Listen to:
Lars Gullin Quartet - Be Careful
(EmArcy Records 45, 1954)
(click for audio)

Freshly-stirred links