What do The Wizard of Oz, Glinda, the good witch of the North, and Bob Clampett have in common?
Answer- They knew how to party.
This photo is from a Halloween Costume party that took place in Palm Springs in the early 1940ís. The party was hosted by Fred Clampett, uncle of Bob Clampett, (top row, third from the right) and his wife, Gertrude Clampett, (bottom row, left). Bob Clampett can be seen singing (top row, third from the left). Notable in this photo is the woman (top row, right) Billie Burke, a.k.a. Glinda, The Good Witch of the North. The Wizard of Oz himself who also played several other minor characters from the classic film can also be seen. That is Frank Morgan (bottom row, second from the left). We believe Morgan has his arm around his wife of many years, Alma Muller. The unidentified man next to Bob Clampett remains unidentified but is the spitting image of Buffalo Bill Cody. Would you agree?
It looks like it would have been a blast to attend this soiree, eh?
Who did Frank Morgan replace in the role of the Wizard of Oz because of fee haggling?
Answer- W.C. Fields.
Just wanted to share this photo from 1950. It is one of two photos of Ms. Holm with the guys that we included in Beany and Cecil: The Special Edition, Volume One. Time for Beany was a pretty big hit at the time of this publicity photo that was most likely used in a magazine. Taken the same year that she appeared in All About Eve and only three years after Gentlemanís Agreement, Celeste Holm was a very well known, Academy Award winning film star.
When we were putting together the DVD we did all of the necessary leg-work to get the clearances. This meant contacting the Screen Actors Guild for representative contact information. Typically it would take some persuasion to convince an agent, manager or estate management agency to approve the use of their celebrities. When SAG gave us a New York number for Ms. Holm the last thing we thought was that it would actually be the home phone number for Celeste Holm. Even though she was now past 80 that voice was still unmistakable. Turns out she remembered Beany and Cecil and remembered doing the shoot. She told us it would be fine to include the images. She politely accepted our platitudes as a fan of her work. It was one of those happy memories from the project. RIP Celeste Holm after 95 glorious years.
Cecil, Venus the Meanest, Venice the Menace, flying saucer
Bob Clampett always got lots of mileage out of those alien type characters in his films. This was particularly the case during the fifties when America started to hear about UFO Sightings. On the Time For Beany live puppet show Beany, Cecil and the gang rode The Leakin’ Lena into outer space on some of their extended adventure journeys. Bob Clampett kept a reminder of this many years later. Prominent on his office wall was a Saturday Evening Post multi page pictorial where Beany and Cecil repelled the Martian invasion.
Shining a light on the UFO craze also allowed Bob Clampett and his talented writers to really push the satire. Beany and Cecil would visit the Square Planet (where EVERYTHING was square) and passed by The moon of the moon, The Schmoon. Later in the cartoon series Beany and Cecil would meet a white blob of mass that could shape shift into a Ralph Kramden clone called The Schmoon Goon. There were numerous other characters like Little Ace from Outer Space, rebus uttering Beepin Tom, and the flying saucer that brought to earth Venus the Meanest and her son Venice the Menace. In that same cartoon who could forget those picnic wrecking Robot Ants that marched out of a tin can with military precision.
Years later in the mid nineteen seventies, Bob Clampett was scheduled to appear on To Tell The Truth. The panelists which included Kitty Carlisle, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean and Nipsy Russell had no problem dispatching with the impostors. At that same taping the producers had a problem with another episode. One of their impostors was a no show and they needed somebody to pretend to be Betty Hill who along with her husband Barney were the first alien abductees in rural New Hampshire in September of 1961. The wife of Bob Clampett, Sody, was about the same age as Betty Hill and agreed to play the part. Over the course of the taping Sody Clampett and Betty Hill became friends. Betty Hill lived on the East Coast, Sody on the West Coast, but they exchanged correspondence.
Sody Clampett ran scheduling for Bob Clampett personal appearances. This included booking his college tours. At some point a few years after they met Sody Clampett expanded her agency and began booking Betty Hill into colleges where she spoke of her alien abduction. We recall Betty flying out to appear at Southern California universities. Betty Hill was a no nonsense lady who did not really embrace the fame this incident brought to her life. It was like a ball and chain she carried around her neck. We say this in part because the abduction was a terrifying experience for both Betty and Barney, so traumatic in fact that she damn well wasn’t going to let disbelievers mock her without putting up a fight.
In subsequent years Sody Clampett took her booking agency business to conventions where she promoted both Bob Clampett and Betty Hill. She got very interesting responses from all kinds of people to the Betty and Barney Hill abduction story. Lets just say that generally speaking the characters booking Bob Clampett and Betty Hill were cut from a different cloth than the straight laced folks booking former presidents and other political heavyweights. Another person promoting himself on the college circuit was UFO expert Stanton Friedman who later co-wrote a book with Kathleen Marden titled Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience.