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Archive for the ‘Famous Faces’ Category

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Happy 25th Birthday Super Mario

Posted by Big Boo on September 13th, 2010

Super MarioNintendo are currently making a big deal about their mustachioed videogame mascot Mario being 25 years old this year, on the very day this post goes out in fact. It may seem quite amazing that Mario has already reached the quarter century, but what’s more amazing is that he is actually a little older than that.

Nintendo may be marking this year as the official 25th birthday of Mario, but games fans will no doubt know that Mario’s first appearance was actually in Donkey Kong. OK, he was known as Jumpman then but the sprite (the name given to 2D videogame images) is most definitely Mario through and through.

Even if you don’t include Donkey Kong though, there was the original Mario Bros game (which was a bit rubbish in my opinion) which was released in 1983 and introduced his brother, Luigi. However, I think what Nintendo are getting at is that the first Super Mario Bros game was released in 1985, and this is undoubtedly the game that truly made Mario a star. Indeed, Super Mario Bros was the biggest selling videogame of all time, that is until Wii Sports came along…

So who is Mario then? Well, Mario Mario (his full name, according to the Hollywood film anyway) is an Italian American plumber who now lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, a land connected by big green pipes and ruled over by the oh-so-sweet-and-lovely Princess Peach, who is often referred to as Mario’s girlfriend, but whether they really are an item is never really made clear.

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Hulk Hogan

Posted by Big Boo on August 4th, 2010

Hulk HoganBeing British, if you mentioned wrestling to me as a child it would instantly conjure up the image of two fat men with names like Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks bounding around the ring wearing swimming trunks (or worse still, what looked liked a woman’s swimming costume) on Saturday afternoon television.

If you came from the US though, wrestling would likely trigger up something similar yet still entirely different. The fat men were (for the most part) replaced with tall, bronzed, muscular guys, who for some reason couldn’t talk without shouting and pointing their finger menacingly. The wrestlers names were also far more butch sounding, as witnessed by the subject of today’s post, Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan was arguably the most famous face of the WWF (World Wrestling Federation, not the panda logoed wildlife charity, who incidentally forced WWF to change their name to WWE) but had he decided to keep his birth name of Terry Gene Bollea, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.

In more recent years he has had to change his name to Hollywood Hogan and even wrestled in a mask under the name Mr. America for a time. Ironically this was partly due to not actually owning his own name, and partly due to Marvel comics understandably being a little annoyed at the use of the word Hulk, especially when fans were said to have “Hulkamania” during the height of his career.

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Gary Coleman 1968-2010

Posted by Big Boo on May 31st, 2010

gary colemanIt’s sad to report that Gary Coleman, child star of US sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, has died at the age of 42 after a fall which led to an epidural hematoma, or blood clot on the brain.

Gary will forever be best remembered for his role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes, the young black orphan who was adopted by the rich white business man Philip Drummond. The show would never have been so popular, spanning 189 episodes and running from 1978 to 1986, if it were not for Arnold and his “Watchoo talkin’ about” catchphrase.

Gary Coleman was born in 1968 and was adopted at a young age. He was born with a congenital kidney disease which led two him having two kidney transplant operations, and which halted his growth, leaving him with a childlike appearance and only reaching a height of 4 feet 8 inches as an adult.

Whilst he was successful as a child actor, appearing in films and guest starring in shows such as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and even having his own cartoon series, his adult life was not quite so happy. He sued his parents for taking too much of his childhood earnings, but even though he won this case he still ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1999, and ended up taking a job as a security guard, a fact that was used by The Simpsons when he guest starred on that show.

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Little and Large

Posted by Big Boo on April 16th, 2010

Little and LargeThink of British comedy double acts and chances are the first names that will come to mind are Morecambe and Wise. Their shows, particularly the Christmas specials, pulled in millions of viewers, so when they left the BBC to go to ITV it understandably left a big hole in the BBC’s comedy programming.

So who did the BBC get to plug this hole? Well, they already had The Two Ronnies, and Cannon and Ball were signed to ITV, so they were left with Little and Large. Oh, and Les Dennis and Dustin Gee, until Dustin died from a heart attack in 1986. The Two Ronnies did well for the Beeb, both at the time and later when they’re shows were put out again and again in slightly modified repeat formats.

Little and Large however, didn’t quite manage to stand the test of time so well, despite featuring all the classic double act features. Eddie Large (real name Edward McGinnis) was the “funny one”, with a range of impersonations and put downs to “straight man” Syd Little (real name Cyril Mead), who always tried to sing a song, but kept getting interrupted by his cohort. For some reason Eddie always introduced Syd as Supersonic Syd Little, but I never quite understood why.

Depending on how you looked at it the Little and Large monikers were possibly the wrong way round, since Syd was taller than Eddie – but then Eddie was more rotund than Syd, so they must have been measuring themselves by width, not height.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Brian Cant

Posted by Big Boo on March 31st, 2010

brian cantOne of the earliest TV shows I remember watching when I was very small was Play School, a show for toddlers that worked so well it is easy to see its influence in many modern children’s TV shows. Each episode usually featured a couple of presenters, normally one male and one female, and quite often the male presenter would have been Mr. Brian Cant.

Play School may not have been Brian’s first TV role (he appeared in an episode of Doctor Who story “The Dominators” and also appeared in other old shows such as Dixon of Dock Green and Dangerman) but it is certainly the role he held for longest. Play School was to be one of the launch programmes for BBC2, and Brian auditioned for it, got the job and presented (and wrote) it for 18 years!

Appearing on a kids show meant that the more serious roles Brian had been playing started to dry up, so instead he embraced childrens television and went on to be involved in many classic shows.

First there was Camberwick Green, then Trumpton and Chigley, to which Brian lent his voice. These three shows may have been made in the late sixties but they were repeated thorugh the seventies and well into the eighties, and still hold up well today. The design of the cars and so on may have dated a little, but the stories are just as appealing to children as they always were.

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Kenny Everett

Posted by Big Boo on February 12th, 2010

kenny everettI first became a fan of the late, great, Kenny Everett when I was around five or six, arguably too young to truly understand his unique brand of comedy. The television was on one evening, when a cartoon suddenly appeared. As with most kids I loved cartoons at that age, and assumed they were all intended for kids, so I couldn’t understand why it was on at night when the children’s programmes had finished long ago.

The cartoon in question was an episode of Captain Kremmen, which was an animated science fiction sketch shown as part of the Kenny Everett Video Show, Kenny’s first TV series which was shown in the late seventies on ITV. Captain Kremmen was an intergalactic space hero, and was a character originally created by Kenny for his radio shows, which is of course where he first found fame.

From then on I plagued my parents to let me watch more of this cartoon, they eventually gave in, and to their surprise I even sat glued to the non-cartoon parts of the show where this strange bearded man pulled funny faces and did odd things. I was hooked, even if I didn’t really understand what was going on.

In 1981 Kenny had jumped channels from ITV to the BBC, or the Beeb as he used to call it. I’m not sure if he invented this nickname or not, but he certainly used to use it a lot. Kenny went on to make five series of The Kenny Everett Television Show, and it is this show that I will always remember Kenny for most. Well, that and his appearances on Blankety Blank!

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Edward Woodward – 1930-2009

Posted by Big Boo on November 18th, 2009

edward woodwardIf you haven’t already heard, the great British actor Edward Woodward passed away on the 16th November, aged 79.

Edward started acting in the 1950s, but it was in the late 1960s that he became a household name in the spy series Callan. This fame brought him a movie role in the 1973 film The Wicker Man, a truly chilling horror film about a police officer investigating strange cult like behaviour in a sleepy little backwater village.

For me personally though, Edward Woodward will always be Robert McCall from The Equalizer, which ran for four seasons from 1985 to 1989. This is one of those series that has stuck in my mind for the amazingly scary title sequence and theme tune, with the shot of Robert McCall stood in a dark alley in a pair of car headlights being an image that will be burnt in my mind forever more.

The Equalizer has been a show that I have wanted to write about on this site for some time, but I never have simply because apart from the title sequence I don’t remember much about the actual storylines. I know that Robert McCall was once an agent in some kind of intelligence agency, but that when he retired he went into “business”, if you can call it that, as a righter of wrongs. He worked for free, and basically was like a one man A Team, helping those who were powerless to help themselves.

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Posted by Big Boo on November 16th, 2009

sootyDoesn’t look too bad for a sixty year old, does he? The little yellow bear with black ears that we all know as Sooty has been around since the 1950’s, meaning he’s entertained at least three generations of kids. This has put him in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running children’s TV show, although the format and name of his TV programmes has changed a fair bit over the years.

Sooty was first “discovered” by Harry Corbett whilst on holiday in Blackpool in 1948. He saw the little yellow bear puppet and bought it for his son Matthew, but it wasn’t long before Harry was using the bear as an assistant in his amateur magic act, naming him Teddy. The duo were spotted and in 1952 they went onto the nations airwaves thanks to a BBC talent show.

Since television was still only black and white a last minute decision was made to alter Teddy’s appearance to make him stand out better on screen. A black nose and mouth were added by Harry’s wife Marjorie and his ears were blackened with soot, which led to us new stage name, Sooty! He also got his trademark catchphrase, the magical phrase Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Busy, although of course given that Sooty never actually spoke out loud, this was said by Harry.

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