They went on to do bigger things.

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Over the decades there have been so many iconic movies and TV shows which spawned many big actors and actresses.But it didn’t always happen over night, sometimes these stars started off in big shows or movies with minor obscure rolls, or even in music videos.

Below are just a few examples.

Before Dirty Dancing.

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The biggest star to come out of the movie Dirty Dancing is without a doubt Patrick Swayze,although I didn’t like the movie I have to admit it became one id the most iconic movies of the 80s.

However before Patrick Swayze made it big, he appeared in an episode of MASH. Where he played a character who catches Leukemia at a young age.

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Before Magnum P.I.

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When you think Magnum P.I. you just couldn’t imagine else playing that role then Tom Selleck. Tom went on to do other iconic movies such as ‘Three men and a baby’ and stars currently in the hugely popular ‘Blue Bloods’

But before all this he had an obscure role in the medical thriller ‘Coma’ as an injured football player.

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Before Million Dollar Baby

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Million Dollar Baby is still one of the finest movies ever made. It gave Hilary Swank the chance to shine and show how good an actress she is.Deservedly she won the Oscar for her role. But before she was boxing, she was being harassed by vampires in the movie “Buffy the Vampire slayer”

Buffy

Before Blade

Blade

Staying with vampire slayers, although Wesley Snipes has played in many big budget action movies, his most iconic role is that of ‘Blade’ half vampire,half human vampire slayer.

But it was Michael Jackson who chose Wesley for hos other talents, his dancing skills in the music video for ‘Bad’Bad

Before Speed

Speed

Sandra Bullock has done so many great movies in a variety of genres from comedy to science fiction but her breakthrough movie is without a doubt “Speed”

However before she drove buses at a speed of over 50 M/PH she was a bit of a Bionic woman in “Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989 TV Movie)”

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Before Man on the Moon

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I good picked a number of movies when it comes to Jim Carrey, -the Grinch,Mask,Dumb and Dumber- the list goes on. But I picked ‘Man on the Moon’ because I think that was his best performance to date, and he should have got the Oscar for that.

He did have a part though in another iconic movie “The Dead pool” the last of the Dirty Harry movies, where he played a rock star, basically based on Axl Rose.

Dirty Harru

They all went on to do greater things.

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Sources

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Dallas-A House Divided

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I think it is safe to say that Dallas was one if not ‘the’ biggest TV show ever to be aired, probably even bigger than “Game of Thrones” and in a way the shows have similarities even though they are set in completely different settings.

I know they tried to revive ‘Dallas’ a few years ago but every knew it wasn’t going to work.

The episode called “A House Divided” which first aired on March 21 1980 will probably mean nothing to most of you, but if I say it’s the one where JR got shot every one will know.

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“A House Divided” served as both an introduction to the now common practice of season-ending cliffhangers and the beginning of an eight-month international media frenzy.[11] International betting offices created a set of odds for the possible suspects: “Dusty Farlow (J. R.’s wife Sue Ellen’s lover, who disappeared after a plane crash) was the 6 to 4 favorite, followed by Vaughn Leland (a banker J. R. swindled) and Kristin Shepard (J. R.’s mistress) at 4 to 1. Sue Ellen herself was a long shot at 25 to 1, as is J.R.’s long- suffering mom, Miss Ellie.

 

“Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon, becoming a popular T-shirt slogan, and heightening anticipation of the soap’s third season, which was to come in the fall. Much to the dismay of Dallas fans, the premiere was delayed because of a Screen Actors Guild strike. When it finally aired, the episode revealing the shooter became one of television’s most-watched shows, with an audience of 83 million people, and helped put Dallas into greater worldwide circulation.

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++++ Spoiler Alert+++++

I know it is probably overkill to indicate a spoiler alert at this stage but one can never be too careful.

JR was shot by an Irish man who lives on Craggy Island in the Parish of Father Ted.He confessed to the crime by wearing a Tee Shirt admitting he had done it.

JR.

That was a joke of course, but that just indicates the cultural significance of the shooting of JR, literally the whole world spoke about it.

The real perpetrator was Kristin Shepard, JR’s mistress and sister in law, played by Bing Crosby’s daughter

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The shooting of JR wasn’t the only big cliffhanger of course, who could forget Bobby Ewings’s shower scene, a resurrection if there ever was one.

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The WWII efforts of Laurel and Hardy

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I grew up watching Laurel and Hardy movies, and to this day I still watch them. Where the comedy of some of the other 1920/30s comedians dated, the comedy of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy stayed fresh.

What many people don’t know is that during WWII,Laurel and Hardy did contribute to the WWII efforts.

In 1942 the comic duo starred in a short film commissioned by the  U. S. Department of Agriculture and distributed by the U.S. Forest Service, featuring Laurel and Hardy, with narration read by MGM announcer and producer Pete Smith.

The film was called “The Tree in a Test tube”

The movie was made to raise awareness to  preserve and use domestic wood sparingly to help in the war efforts.

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They were a;so part of the Hollywood Victory caravan a two-week cross-country railroad journey in 1942 that brought together two dozen film stars to raise money for the Army and Navy Relief Society.

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The Hollywood Victory Caravan show was partially inspired by an all-star war bond show at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 1942 which was done for Navy Relief and organized by Walter Winchell. Plans were then made for a nationwide tour by Hollywood stars. The Santa Fe Railroad donated the use of a special train and this had up to fourteen railroad cars which had facilities for rehearsals on board with two portable dance floors, two pianos and ten musicians. Setting off from Los Angeles on April 26, 1942, it traveled to Washington DC where the stars went to a White House Tea Party at the invitation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on April 30 before opening their musical revue extravaganza that night at 8:30 p.m. at Loew’s Capitol. The total “on stage” troupe for opening night consisted of 75 people.

Hollywood-Victory-Caravan

They may not have fired guns but with their own theater shows and movies they brought laughter in a very bleak era.

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Entertaining the troops

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The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a nonprofit organization that provides live entertainment, such as comedians and musicians, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. Since 1941, it has worked in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD), relying heavily on private contributions and on funds, goods, and services from various corporate and individual donors. Although it is congressionally-chartered, it is not a government agency.

During World War II, the USO became the GI’s “home away from home” and began a tradition of entertaining the troops that continues today.

The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes line the pier as they get ready to board a ship and depart New York City for a U.S.O. tour. July 14, 1945

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Comedian Joe Brown cuts it up in his act for soldiers during a U.S.O. show in Italy. 1944.

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USO tours were dangerous. Thirty-seven USO entertainers died during World War II. The most famous entertainer who didn’t make it back was legendary big band leader and then-Army Major Glenn Miller, whose plane disappeared over the English Channel on the way to France.

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Bob Hope USO show, 1944

USO show, 1944

Stars of the stage and screen weren’t just entertainers back in the 1940s. They’d also bring you coffee and a donut. At New York City’s famed USO Stage Door Canteen, troops could meet the stars of the day, watch them perform and even be waited on by them. At the USO Hollywood Canteen, some stars worked shifts in the anonymity of the kitchen.

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World’s most dangerous criminals-Well not really.

 

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In this blog mug shots of extremely dangerous criminals, well not really. They are actually pictures of celebrities after they were arrested for relatively minor offences. Some I expected but others were a surprise to me like the mug shot above of Larry King arrested in Miami, Florida on charges of grand larceny after stealing $5,000 from a business partner. December 20, 1971.

Bill Gates

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Arrested for driving without a license and failing to stop at a stop sign. December 13, 1977.

Steve McQueen

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Arrested for arrest for drunk driving and speeding on in Anchorage, Alaska. June 22, 1972.

Jimi Hendrix

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Arrested for narcotics possession at Toronto International Airport. May 3, 1969.

Jane Fonda

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Arrested for drug smuggling and kicking a policeman during the scuffle at an airport in Cleveland, Ohio. November 3, 1970.

However, the actress/antiwar activist was only carrying vitamins, not illegal drugs, and insists that she was targeted by the Nixon White House because of her anti-establishment political convictions.

Mick Jagger

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Arrested along with Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards for attacking a paparazzo and obstructing a police officer who intervened in Warwick, Rhode Island. July 18, 1972.

Frank Sinatra

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Arrested in Hackensack, New Jersey on charges of adultery and seduction for “carrying on with a married woman.” November 26, 1938.

Jim Morrison

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Several years before he became the frontman of The Doors, Morrison was arrested in Tallahassee, Florida and charged with petty larceny, public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest after drunkenly stealing a cop’s helmet and then not going quietly once he was caught. September 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King Jr.

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Arrested for his role in the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama. February 24, 1956.

Johnny Cash

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Arrested in El Paso, Texas for carrying hundreds of pep pills and tranquilizers in his luggage across the border as he returned from a trip to Juarez, Mexico. October 4, 1965.

Rosa Parks

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Arrested for her role in the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama. February 22, 1956

David Bowie

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Arrested after a performance in Rochester, New York along with three other people (including fellow musician Iggy Pop) for marijuana possession. March 25, 1976.

The charges soon disappeared, but Bowie never performed in Rochester again.

Kurt Cobain

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Arrested in Aberdeen, Washington for trespassing onto the roof of an abandoned warehouse while intoxicated. May 25, 1986

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Was the 2007,Writers Guild of America strike, the best thing ever to happen to TV?

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The WGAE and WGAW labor unions represent film, television, and radio writers working in the United States. All 12,000 screenwriters and TV writers in the guild were part of the strike which started on November 5, 2007, and concluded on February 12, 2008.

I think this was one of the best things ever to happen to TV. It is because of this the market suddenly opened up for TV shows which usually would not be broadcast outside of their point of origin.

Especially the Scandinavian dramas attracted a lot of interest.

It kinda started of with Wallander.

Wallander

Well I said kinda. It wasn’t the original series that first got broadcast but the BBC version starring Kenneth Branagh.

The original Swedish show did follow shortly afterwards though,it was much grittier then the watered down version of the BBC.

Even though this was a well written and compelling show to watch it was nothing compared to what the Danes produced. Forbrydelsen -aka- the Killing.

Forbrydelsen,_DVD

The series is set in Copenhagen and revolves around Detective Inspector Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Each series follows a murder case day-by-day. Each fifty-minute episode covers twenty-four hours of the investigation(who can’t remember that sweater)

Although it was slow at the start it was still perfectly paced.

Also from Denmark was  the political drama,Borgen.

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I have to admit I actually never got the chance to get to see it.

The show was  created by Adam Price. It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds. Borgen is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace and is where the three branches of Danish government reside: the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court.

Then what I consider the crown of Scandinavian dramas,Bron/Broen, or the Bridge in English.

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The Bridge (Danish: Broen; Swedish: Bron) is a Scandinavian crime television series created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt. A joint creative and financed production between Sweden’s Sveriges Television and Denmark’s DR, it has been shown in over 100 countries and unlike the slow start from Forbrydelsen, this one starts with a bang.

A body found on the bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden,on the middle of the border. It sets the scene for a very dark and gritty drama with many unsuspected but realistic twists.

Bron/Broen was first broadcast in 2011 a few years after the strike, but I do think if the strike hadn’t happened none of these shows would have made it out of Scandinavia, and shows like Deutschland 83 would probably only have been shown in Germany(perhaps also the low countries)

When I heard threats of a new Hollywood screenwriters strike I was actually pleased.Because I do believe the 2007 strike was the best thing that happened for TV in decades.

Finishing with the theme song of Bron/Broen.

 

Marlene Dietrich

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On her birthday it is time to look back at Marlene Dietrich’s WWII efforts.

Marie MagdaleneMarleneDietrich ( 27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992)was a German actress and singer who held both German and American citizenship. Throughout her unusually long career, which spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s, she maintained popularity by continually reinventing herself.

In the 1920s in Berlin, Dietrich acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel (1930) brought her international fame and resulted in a contract with Paramount Pictures.

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Dietrich starred in Hollywood films such as Morocco (1930), Shanghai Express (1932), and Desire (1936). She successfully traded on her glamorous persona and “exotic” looks, and became one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Throughout World War II, she was a high-profile entertainer in the United States.

Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. In interviews, Dietrich stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany but had turned them down flat. In the late 1930s, Dietrich created a fund with Billy Wilder and several other Germans to help Jews and dissidents escape from Germany.

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In 1937, her entire salary for Knight Without Armor (450,000) was put into escrow to help the refugees. In 1939, she became an American citizen and renounced her German citizenship. In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to help sell war bonds.

She toured the US from January 1942 to September 1943 (appearing before 250,000 troops on the Pacific Coast leg of her tour alone) and was reported to have sold more war bonds than any other star.

During two extended tours for the USO in 1944 and 1945, she performed for Allied troops in Algeria, Italy, the UK and France, then went into Germany with Generals James M. Gavin and George S. Patton.

 

When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger of being within a few kilometers of German lines, she replied, “aus Anstand“—”out of decency”.Wilder later remarked that she was at the front lines more than Eisenhower. Her revue, with Danny Thomas as her opening act, included songs from her films, performances on her musical saw (a skill she had originally acquired for stage appearances in Berlin in the 1920s) and a pretend “mindreading” act. Dietrich would inform the audience that she could read minds and ask them to concentrate on whatever came into their minds. Then she would walk over to a soldier and earnestly tell him, “Oh, think of something else. I can’t possibly talk about that!” American church papers reportedly published stories complaining about this part of Dietrich’s act.

In 1944, the Morale Operations Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) initiated the Musak project, musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralize enemy soldiers. Dietrich, the only performer who was made aware that her recordings would be for OSS use, recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including “Lili Marleen”, a favorite of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.Major General William J. Donovan, head of the OSS, wrote to Dietrich, “I am personally deeply grateful for your generosity in making these recordings for us.”

 

At the war’s end in Europe, Dietrich reunited with her sister Elisabeth and her sister’s husband and son. They had resided in the German city of Belsen throughout the war years, running a cinema frequented by Nazi officers and officials who oversaw the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Dietrich’s mother remained in Berlin during the war, her husband moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley of California. Dietrich vouched on behalf of her sister and her sister’s husband, sheltering them from possible prosecution as Nazi collaborators. Dietrich would later omit the existence of her sister and her sister’s son from all accounts of her life, completely disowning them and claiming to be an only child.

Dietrich received the Medal of Freedom in November 1947. She said this was her proudest accomplishment. She was also awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government for her wartime work

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A great script does matter

I am a great fan of TV Dramas and Movies and despite a lot of critics saying that the last few years the quality has gone down, I believe that this isn’t really the case.

Particularly the TV Shows have really improved, I think it was shows like the Sopranos that really raised the bar.

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TV Channels and production companies like HBO, Showtime and AMC have really invigorated the TV landscape, throw in the mix Netflix and Amazon Prime and the online entertainment is complete. If it wasn’t for these companies who basically gave a cart blanch to TV Show makers we would have never had show like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and their spin off Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead

Shows like Ray Donovan, House of Cards,Bosch,Homeland and Game of Thrones would have never been aired, especially Game of Thrones with an often graphic and even pornographic content.

So on TV front I think the quality has gone up dramatically, but of course this is all a matter of taste. The one thing these shows have in common they are all character driven and it is evident that a lot of time is spend on the scripts.

Take Game of Thrones for example, although some of the graphic scenes are really ‘in your face’ it doesn’t take away from the character, Peter Dinklage who plays  his character Tyrion Lannister  so convincing that you don’t even notice his small stature.

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However unfortunately there are shows who started so promising but really failed to maintain the initial strong story lines.

Lost, took the world by a storm but at the end it ended in a damp squib. It really felt like the producers wanted to drag it out to get as much money as possible from the show  at the cost of a good script. They should have kept to the originally planned 3 seasons.

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Another prime example is Heroes. It started of great it had everything one could want in a show about heroes and villains, until season 3 that is where they came up with this ridiculous story line based in Cork,Ireland with the worse Irish accents I ever heard. But I could get over the accents, the worse thing here was they showed heavily armed security guards in a warehouse,not even the Police have guns in Ireland. That was just lazy script writing.

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One show that kept me interested until the very last episode was True Blood, unfortunately after all the hard work they had put in , it seemed that they had just given up at the very end. I have never have been more disappointed by a finale then with True Blood it was the mother of all anti-climaxes.

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By no stretch of the imagination am I a fan of the Irish national broadcaster RTE, but they did produce one of the most realistic and gritty crime drama’s even for international standards.

When I first heard of Love/Hate I had closed my mind to it, solely because of the fact it was made by RTE, but boy was I wrong. It is one of my all time favorites on par with The Sopranos ,Ray Donovan and Breaking Bad.

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Funny enough it was our Scandinavian brethren who produced some of the finest pieces of Crime drama this century, although subtitled the characters were so strong that you’d nearly forget they were talking Danish and Swedish. I am of course talking about The Killing(Forbrydelsen), the Bridge(Bron/Broen) and Wallander(well that is still Wallander in Swedish). I wasn’t to impressed with the BBC version with Kenneth Branagh.

When it comes to TV Shows I do tend to have a preference to Police Drama’s as a kid I grew up watching the German cop shows Derrick and Tatort, the latter one meaning Crime Scene, so basically it was CSI before ‘the’ CSI.

There might be more of a case when it comes to the Big screen to say the quality of movies just isn’t what it used to be and a lot of it is because of dodgy CGI, but having that said some of my all time favorite movies were made the last 16 years or so. Gladiator,The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,The Dark Knight trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth and I am Legend, to name but a few. Again all these movies even though they were jam packed with special effects they were still character driven and a lot of attention was given to the script.But also movies like Gran Torino and Gone baby Gone are masterpieces.

I do get over some minor discrepancies in scripts, like in the recent ‘Captain America-Civil War’ where they mix up one German word, although it is annoying for a linguist like me, it didn’t take away the overall enjoyment of the movie.

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However when they mess up a whole scene by having a Finnish guy speak German as if it was Finnish is just lazy and unforgivable , this was the case in Swordfish,maybe that’s why Halle Berry took her top off to distract from the bad and lazy script.

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All in all as a viewer I think we are spoiled for choice in both TV and Cinema features.