Bob Backlund, We Hardly Knew Ye

Where are they?

In this era of immediate gratification – where you can find anything, anytime, anywhere – too many great moments in entertainment seem to have fallen through the cracks.  Here’s some stuff we actually have to remember rather than see at a moment’s notice – and changes that seem to have been made for no reason whatsoever:

We can’t find video of Bob Uecker’s incredible, hilarious 2003 Baseball Hall Of Fame acceptance speech anywhere, and it’s the greatest HOF moment of all time.  It has to been seen with the heart-wrenching tale told by sports writer Hal McCoy moments earlier to the get the full impact of one of the best-timed, most perfect comedy soliloquies ever uttered; it truly transcends both sport and humor.  But we dare you to find it.

Anywhere. But you can watch wrestlers with names like Necro Butcher on YouTube anytime.

While we’re on the subject: Where’s Mr. Belvedere reruns?  It’s not on any national networks.

Or Barney Miller.

Or The Odd Couple.

Or I Love Lucy – yes, even I Love Lucy.  Can you believe it? Thank Mertz for the DVDs.  As we write this, the venerable comedy series was not on the regular schedule of any national broadcast or cable network.  We once read a quote from a TV executive who claimed that he didn’t want to broadcast black-and-white shows because they wouldn’t hold the attention of younger viewers.  That executive was an asshole.

Or Looney Tunes.  What’s a Saturday morning without Foghorn Leghorn beating the tar out of Barnyard Dog?  The fact that this huge array of classic cartoons is owned by Time Warner – which can’t find regular time on their schedule for these wonderful animated shorts on not one, but two networks (Cartoon Network and Boomerang) – is downright criminal.  To think you can watch The Banana Splits and not Daffy Duck proves there are empty suits everywhere.

Why did they ever replace the wonderful, non-grating Richard Karn on Family Feud?  Is it really a better program now?

Why do they change hosts on Westminster Dog Show telecasts all the time?  Whatever happened to Joe Garagiola, who didn’t know a pug from his elbow but was riotously entertaining all the same?

Whatever happened to the wonderfully cheesy cartoon program The Marvel Superheroes from the 1960s?  No one seems to show the static Grantray-Lawrence Animation-produced show, which featured America’s first looks at Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, The Hulk, Thor, and, yes, Captain America.  The program was so incredibly bad that it achieved true greatness.  And Dean Wormer from Animal House was the voice of Iron Man!

Whatever happened to Stories Of The Century, the 1950s western where virtually every legendary villain of the Old West (Black Bart, Harry Tracy, etc.) was captured by the same lawman?

Whatever happened to The Three Stooges? At the same time a big-screen revival starring Sean Penn is being planned and a great DVD reissue series is going on, Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shemp aren’t regularly on any national network.  We don’t care about Joe Besser, though he was great on The Joey Bishop Show (speaking of Bishop, isn’t it amazing that Regis Philbin is his only contemporary left on this mortal coil?).

Whatever happened to the horrible but great Abbott & Costello Show?

Gumby?

Doodles Weaver?  The closing credits to his 1960s color shorts are so incredibly inane they reach a pinnacle of ridiculousness never before achieved, even by Chaplin and Keaton.  One segment during the closing (silent with honky tonk piano music in the background) shows Weaver smiling at the camera; you hear a snap; then Weaver lifts his hand and writhes in pain, as his fingers are somehow caught in a mousetrap.  Where did the trap come from?  Did he snap the trap on his own digits?  The greatest final moment in show business history, eclipsed only by the final edition of The Sopranos.

Where are Post Oat Flakes?

Whip ’N Chill?

Bonomo Turkish Taffy?

Where are the full-page magazine ads for Charles Atlas?  Fake mustaches and beards? Blow up love dolls?  The Johnson Smith Catalog, so we can keep stocked with a fresh supply of fake dog do, X-Ray Specs, and plastic vomit?

Where’s The Goon Show?

Whatever happened to Bob Hastings?  George Kennedy?  Alan Hamel?  Martha Smith?  While we’re on the subject, Julie Strain?

Whatever happened to Chocobliss candy bars?

Whatever happened to Robert Smith?

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5 Comments

Filed under Celebrities, Current events, Entertainment, Humor, Journalism, Posts by Robert Smith

5 responses to “Bob Backlund, We Hardly Knew Ye

  1. RICK

    Joe Garagiola is in Phoenix AZ..On occasion he will be in the broadcast booth for Diamondback games..Those Yogi and Branch Ricky stories are priceless

    • Robert Smith

      Garagiola no longer working a dog show, of all things, is just another big example of agism in the media – talented people get a gray hair or a wrinkle and out the door they go, regardless of the quality of the work they do. Vin Scully is, to me, the greatest living person in baseball…and I’m amazed they didn’t give him the bum’s rush around 1988 simply for being “older.” Thank goodness they didn’t; he’s amazing – he sound exactly the same now as he did in the 1950s. The man is absolutely amazing.

      As for Joe, I remember him hosting game shows and The Today Show for a spell. So he’s over 80 – so what? Doeson’t knowledge and experience count for anything?

      • Robert Smith

        “Doesn’t.” Sorry…when I get on my soapbox I get sloppy; hard to stand in all those suds.

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