King of the Half Hour: Nat Hiken and the Golden Age of TV Comedy

Syracuse University Press
2
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Regarded by his contemporaries as one of television's premier comedy creators, Nat Hiken was the driving creative force behind the classic 1950s and 1960s series Sgt. Bilko and the hilarious Car 54, Where Are You?
King of the Half Hour, the first biography of Hiken, draws extensively on exclusive first-hand interviews with some of the well-known TV personalities who worked with him, such as Carol Burnett, Fred Gwynne, Alan King, Al Lewis, and Herbert Ross. The book focuses on Hiken's immense talent and remarkable career, from his early days in radio as Fred Allen's head writer to his multiple Emmy-winning years as writer-producer-director on television. In addition to re-establishing Hiken's place in broadcast history, biographer, David Everitt places him in the larger story of early New York broadcasting. Hiken's career paralleled the rise and fall of television's Golden Age. He embodied the era's best qualities-craftsmanship, a commitment to excellence and a distinctive, uproariously funny and quirky sense of humor. At the same time, his uncompromising independence prevented him from surviving the changes in the industry that brought the Golden Age to an end in the 1960s. His experiences bring a fresh and until now unknown perspective to the medium's most extraordinary period.
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About the author

David Everitt is a free-lance writer who lives in Huntington, New York. He is the author of Film Tricks: Special Effects in the Movies and For Reel. He has also contributed to such publications as Entertainment Weekly, Television Quarterly, and the New York Times.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Syracuse University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9780815606765
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Performing Arts / Television / Direction & Production
Performing Arts / Television / General
Performing Arts / Television / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In the tradition of Anna Quindlen’s Good Dog. Stay., the iconic star of the Dr. Phibes films shares the heartwarming tale of his mischievous mutt.

Actor Vincent Price won acclaim for his performances as a menacing villain in dozens of macabre horror films, such as House of Wax. Less well known, though, is Price’s lifelong love of animals, especially his fourteen-year-old mutt, Joe. From his wife’s passion for poodles to film set encounters with all types of creatures, including goats, apes, and camels, Price’s life was full of furry, four-legged friends. But it was Joe who truly captured his heart. Intelligent, courageous, and devoted to his owner, Joe was a special dog with a personality all his own.
 
In this touching and light-hearted memoir, with a new introduction by Bill Hader and a preface by Vincent Price’s daughter, Victoria, Joe gets involved in all sorts of hijinks: At one point, the actor has to defend his canine companion in court! Despite some bad habits, like stealing guests’ shoes, pursuing lustful trysts with neighboring dogs, or belly flopping into the garden fishpond—crushing more than a few fish—Price loves his Joselito, whose unconditional loyalty more than makes up for his minor indiscretions. And when Price’s elderly cousin who comes to stay with him is stricken with cancer, Joe never leaves her side. Price’s tender and witty recollections of his time spent with Joe will bring joy to any animal lover’s heart.
 
The Vincent Price Family Legacy will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Fund for Animals.
Memoirs of an Icelandic Bookworm is only partly a memoir. More than half the volume consists of Icelandic folktales, many of which have never been translated into English before. These tales are uniquely presented here as part of a fabric of life extending from a long-ago past through times affected by the Second World War and to the present.

The book is a first-hand and humorous account of Icelandic culture and an Icelandic childhood. In the memoir-sections, the bookworm of the title is growing up in a small town in Northern Iceland; her emerging world-view is expanded by family-influences or challenged by sojourns into Icelandic and international literature. Her family is memorably represented, for example by her grandmother, the robust Stefana, who speaks in verse and learns to dance rockn roll, and the white-haired patriarch Jn, who steps in to save the family home from burning and introduces his great-granddaughter to an ancient feminist folktale.

The memoirs mostly describe the 1940s and 50s, but the author is constantly looking back, beyond her own memories and even the memories of her great-parents, toward an older culture, preserved in the folktales and exerting its influence through the centuries to touch her own childhood. On occasion, the authors cultural associations reach even further back, to the times of the Icelandic sagas; at other times, with periodic returns to her current vantage point in the 21st century, she touches down in the more recent past for a humorous look at Laxness or up-to-date cultural developments.

As a writer of memoirs, the author makes two general observations. The first one is that children should be introduced to imaginative literature as early as possible. Although this is not a new idea, it is illustrated here with an example of highly auspicious conditions: the bookworm and her peers grow up in a cultural climate where literature and poetry are integrated into daily life. The authors second observation is that a small and seemingly insular society may actually contain a great deal of cultural and literary sophistication, as she shows in her descriptions of daily small-town life in Northern Iceland.

The sixty-some folktales which occupy the larger part of the book are introduced as flashbacks to earlier times. Reflecting the national past and narrated by long departed country-people, the folktales run through the bookworms own present and link her living family to long-ago forebears. The human characters in these colorful tales are just like the narrators themselves: farmers and their wives, serving maids, clergymen, bishops, or hired hands: a familiar mixture in any farming society. The non-humans are a sinister lot, ranging from The Evil One himself through ghosts and ogres with whom ordinary folk must struggle as best they can. In addition, the ever-present elves are a law unto themselves: loyal as friends but lethal as foes. Being an Icelander and thus receptive to mysticism, the bookworm has ample contact with the supernatural, partly through the folktales but also as elements of daily life. Real people gifted with second sight are still commonplace in the girls own times; in fact, her family owes its very existence to the advice of such a seer. In addition, the bookworms world teems with an international cast of fictional and fantastic characters. Dickenss Mr. Bumble, Anna of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, a nameless drunken fisherman (courtesy of Halldr Kiljan Laxness), and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, among others, make cameo appearances next to child-stealing elf-women, man-devouring giantesses, and a dreaded ghost-monster called Thorgeirs Bull.

The first folktale, a horrific account of a legendary sorcerer, is presented by itself both as a preview of the dark supernatural mysteries in store for the reader and as a preview of the fascination and excitement such readin
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