Saturday, April 30, 2022

 MAY 2022


This month we invite all the members of our wonderful Galaxy audience to participate in a fun reminiscence of classic film, TV and music videos.  One of the most interesting features in the aforementioned media venues is the cameo -- i.e., a brief appearance of a well-known person within the tapestry of the story.  In many instances, cameos are not featured in the credits and so it becomes a treasure hunt in identifying famous or favorite people that are essentially faces in the crowd!

Here is a sample of notable cameos.  Perhaps one of the most famous was the recurring cameos by film director Alfred Hitchcock in 40 out of his 54 classic films from the late 1920s to the mid 1970s.  Often Hitchcock would be spotted in a crowd scene near the beginning of his many films and this was viewed as his "signature" or "watermark" for his artistic directorial work.  This made for heightened audience interest right from the start as filmgoers would keep sharp lookout for the iconic director whose cameos were so brief that if you happened to take your eyes off the screen for a single moment you would miss him!  One of the most interesting cameos was in the 1944 film "Lifeboat" (set in World War II).  In such a confined setting, Hitchcock was seen in a newspaper being read by one of the characters while seated in the lifeboat.  Specifically the newspaper showed a before-and-after photo sequence of Hitchcock in an advertisement for a weight-loss program.

Some classic cameos on film are only "heard" but not seen!  Two such instances are in the motion pictures "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949) and "King of Kings" (1961).  "A Letter to Three Wives" tells the story of a woman sending a letter to three women, informing them she has left town with one of their husbands but not specifying which one!  The unseen woman who wrote the titular letter is a constant presence throughout the film because of her occasional narration of key events in the story, including the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending.  This "voice" cameo was uncredited but was performed by Celeste Holm.  Similarly, the Biblical epic "King of Kings" was narrated by none other than Orson Welles.  His deep, sonorous voice, while familiar to one and all, was also uncredited.  But it played a noteworthy part in heightening the illuminating story on the life and ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Baby boomers who watched the "Batman" TV series (1966-68) will fondly recall the window cameos in which very famous people would have brief conversations with the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder as they would scale up the side of tall apartment buildings.  There were 14 such window cameos that included such luminaries as Sammy Davis Jr, Dick Clark, Don Ho and Edward G. Robinson.

For those who remember "Friday Night Music Videos" in the 1980s, there is the official Bruce Springsteen "Dancing in the Dark" video of the Boss performing at a 1984 concert in St Paul, MN.  In this truly amazing video -- noted for the very high energy level by Springsteen, his bandmates and the audience -- a 20 year old Courtney Cox (a full decade before her iconic Monica role in the 1990s TV series "Friends") is first seen standing in the front row right up against the stage fully involved with the concert and then in the closing sequence is brought up on stage by Springsteen to dance with the Boss in what is now regarded as a scripted spontaneous event!

What are your favorite cameos?  What made them so special or memorable to you and your loved ones?  We invite you to share them by emailing us directly through the GNN website or posting to the GNN FACEBOOK page (and "liking" us when doing so).  If you are looking for a fun way to make binge watching more interesting, using the "cameo" theme is a fun way to revisit favorite films, shows and music videos.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

 APRIL 2022


This month we pay tribute to Dame Jane Goodall, DBE, as she celebrates her 88th birthday (April 3).  Dr Goodall is a familiar if not lifelong presence in the consciousness of baby boomers who came of age while watching her pioneering work in primatology and anthropology unfold in real time through the National Geographic media platforms from the mid-1960s to the present day!  Goodall is regarded as the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees.  This United Kingdom born scientist who earned her University of Cambridge doctorate in Ethology (study of animal behavior) has helped raise awareness and understanding of conservation, sustainability and ethical treatment of animals.  Her pioneering work showed that similarities between humans and chimpanzees were evident in emotion, intelligence as well as social and family relationships.  Jane Goodall's trailblazing career has not only expanded the boundaries of science but has opened up new pathways (or in corporate business terms - broken the glass ceiling) so that the once male-dominated fields of primatology and anthropology are now nearly evenly made up of both men and women.  In sum, she has been a role model of professional excellence, dignity, integrity and dedication.

Most baby boomers first became acquainted with Jane Goodall through the National Geographic publications (School Bulletin for young readers and its adult mainstream National Geographic Magazine) and most notably, via network TV, the 1965 primetime National Geographic Society special "Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees."  In these venues, a worldwide audience witnessed how Goodall gave personal names to each of the chimpanzees instead of numbers, as she observed them to have unique and individual personalities - a rather unconventional idea at that time!  She recorded peaceful, affectionate behavior along with an aggressive side to chimpanzee nature.

In the decades that have followed, Dr Goodall has not only helped to raise awareness and understanding of the animal kingdom, but her humanitarian and environmental work has helped inspire public support for pursuance of scientific research as a career path.  Her title of "Dame" is associated with the DBE award (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) which reflects her scientific contributions along with public service via charitable organizations and research institutions.

A couple of fun facts or trivia concerning the inspired life of Jane Goodall:  First, her career benefited enormously from the mentorship she received from the famed paleoanthropologist Dr Louis Leakey. Goodall worked directly for Dr Leakey, who later sent her to various parts of Africa to do field research and in between pursue academic study with the leading authorities of the day.  Dr Leakey also helped raise funds to help Goodall with her scientific research.  A second fun fact shows that Jane Goodall has a good sense of humor.  The famed cartoonist Gary Larson featured two chimpanzees grooming each other in his "Far Side" comic strip and when one discovered a blonde hair on the other, inquired "Conducting a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?"  As Dr Goodall was in Africa when that cartoon was published, the Jane Goodall Institute thought it was in bad taste, describing it as an "atrocity" and threatening legal action.  When Goodall returned from her travels and saw the cartoon, she thought it was amusing and stopped the Institute's legal action!  In Larson's Far Side Gallery 5, Goodall wrote the preface and praised his work while detailing her perspective on the controversy!

One more fun fact, and this occurred very recently (March 3, 2022) as The Lego Group -- in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day -- issued set number 40530 "A Jane Goodall Tribute" that depicts a Jane Goodall minifigure with three chimpanzees in an African forest!  In appreciation for her groundbreaking work that has promoted a better understanding of our world, please join us in wishing Jane Goodall a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY ... and many more!