Alan Brian Hale
Alan Brian Hale was an American film and television actor. He starred in more than 200 films and dozens of TV shows.
He was born to actor Rufus Edward MacKahan and silent actress Gretchen Hartman in Los Angeles, California. He dropped the “Jr.” from his name after his father’s death.
Autry, the singing cowboy, is one of America’s most enduring icons. He gained fame through crooning songs on radio, in films and on television for more than three decades starting in the early 1930s.
He starred in more than 90 Western movies glorifying cowboy action and comedy and the wide-open spaces of the American West. He also recorded hundreds of songs, many of which he wrote or co-wrote.
After his first film appearance in 1934, Autry became Hollywood’s top box-office Western star for eight years. In 1947, he formed Gene Autry Productions, which produced films released through Republic Studios and Columbia Pictures.
From 1950 through 1956, he hosted The Gene Autry Show on CBS. He also owned the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Major League Baseball team and a flying school. In 1988, he opened the Gene Autry Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.
Biff Baker U.S.A.
Besides playing the Skipper in Gilligan’s Island, Hale was also a star on another series set during the Cold War. He starred in Biff Baker U.S.A., which aired on CBS in 1952-53.
It’s an espionage series that centered on a married couple who were American importers and carried out espionage behind the Iron Curtain. They ran into mobsters, smugglers and even Nazis.
This early TV series was a good mix of male-female detective teams, gung ho heroes and fun guest stars. It also had some nice locations including the Rivera shooting in London, Stockholm and Luxembourg.
The Bakers are not official agents but they become involved in espionage because of their frequent international travel. They never seem to get caught, though they do run into some interesting characters. The scripts are not overly elaborate or implausible and there’s always something funny going on in each episode. It’s a curio from that era.
Casey Jones was a railroad engineer from Jackson, Tennessee. He worked for the Mobile & Ohio and then later the Illinois Central.
He was a folk hero who grew to become widely recognized as he saved trains running late on the rails. He was credited with staying on board his train with one hand on the brake to slow it down, and with using the whistle to warn others that there was a train ahead of them.
On April 30, 1900, he was killed in a crash in Vaughan, Mississippi. He was driving a train with three other trains that were longer than the station at Vaughan could accommodate.
His death was immortalized in songs, including one called “The Ballad of Casey Jones.” The song is based on the life and death of railroad engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones, who died when his train collided with another train in Vaughan, Mississippi in 1900.
A group of tour-boat passengers are marooned on a deserted island. They are a mismatched crew including first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver), irascible Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.), tycoon Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus), his wife and true love Lovey, screen siren Ginger (Tina Louise), inventive Professor Roy Hinkley (Russell Johnson) and plucky Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells).
Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, intended the cast to be diverse in personality, history, and style. He portrayed the rich and successful Thurston Howell as covetous, the smarty-pants Professor as prideful, the wealthy Mr. Howell’s wife as lusty, Ginger as jealous, Mrs. Howell as angry, the Skipper as gluttony and Mary Ann Summers as envy.
The series has been a major hit since its original broadcast run. It has spawned several TV movie sequels and two Filmation animated television series. Warner Home Video released all 36 episodes of the first season in Region 1 DVD format between 2004 and 2005.
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