Saturday, October 23, 2021

Weekend Post

I was at lunch recently with a writer friend and we got onto the topic of role models. We each had writers, parents, other individuals we admired, and then another name occurred to me – one he found surprising. And I imagine you will too.

Those of you who have even heard of this person.

Okay. Ready? One of my role models was Shari Lewis.

So who’s Shari Lewis? Younger readers will have no idea I’m sure.

Shari Lewis was a kids’ show host in the ‘50s-‘70s. She was also a ventriloquist. Remember the puppets Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse? Those were Shari Lewis’. They weren’t particularly hilarious but they were endearing.

And some other things about Shari Lewis: she won twelve Emmys, was a magician, juggler, singer, dancer, and was considered one of the finest ventriloquists in the world. Oh, and she co-wrote an episode of STAR TREK.

So why is she a role model?

In 1974 I was a disc jockey in San Diego.  A friend was visiting and we went to Belmont Park, which is an old-time amusement park, complete with rickety roller coaster, a boardwalk, etc. It’s still open. Neither Sea World nor Legoland could kill it. 

Well this was an afternoon in the middle of the week during August. Crowded it wasn’t. How it’s still open today I don’t know.

Oh wait.  Wrong lamb chop
We walked by an auditorium and saw that Shari Lewis was performing. Next show in ten minutes. What the hell? A little nostalgia. And it’s not like there were a thousand other great things to see or do at Belmont Park. So we went in. The auditorium seated probably 200. There was one person sitting there. We figured, well when it gets closer to showtime people are going to stream in. So we took a seat right up front. I had heard she was a great ventriloquist so I wanted to be close enough to see her lips. (How many people go to a show because they want to see the star’s lips?).

You see where this is going, don't you?

When it was time for the show to begin there were literally three people in the audience. Now remember, Shari Lewis at the time was a big name. She had done network shows for over a decade. She gave not one but two command performances for the Queen. And here she was, on a hot August afternoon in an amusement park performing for three idiots. Oh, and it was free admission.  How much could she have been paid?  I picture some supervisor handing her a big bag of quarters from the Whack-a-mole game. 

I would not have blamed her if she had come out and said, “Sorry guys. I never do shows for audiences smaller than the number of puppets I have.”

Redd Fox essentially did just that once.  He was a long-time nightclub comic who became the star of SANFORD & SON.  As the story goes, he was playing in some Vegas showroom.  It's the midnight show.  There are four people in the house.  The band plays the SANFORD & SON theme, he walks out on stage, surveys the audience, says something to the effect of "Four fucking people?  I ain't plain' for four fucking people."  He then walks off.  The band again plays the SANFORD & SON theme, lights up in the auditorium.  End of show, goodnight.  

But that’s not what Shari Lewis did.

She came out and started her show.

At first, I have to admit, I was really uncomfortable. I felt so self-conscious. She was essentially doing her act just for me. And it’s not like I could leave.

But as her show continued my discomfort slowly gave way to admiration. Even though there were just three audience members, she was performing her heart out. It would have been so easy to just go at half-speed, drop a bunch of bits. But Shari went through her material with energy and class. (She probably did drop some of the jokes geared for kids but that's all the more reason to thank her.)  There could have been 10,000 in the venue. I was in awe.

And the show itself was great. She was a phenomenal ventriloquist. I remember a bit she did with an auctioneer, puppets talking a mile a minute, she chiming in -- it was amazing. Another time she had her puppets sing and even yodel. How do you yodel without moving your lips?

When the show was over – and it was about 45 minutes. We stood up and gave her a standing ovation. And since it was just the three of us, my friend and I approached the stage, shook her hand, and told her how knocked out we were by her performance. I also joked that she should consider changing agents. She laughed.

But if ever there was the definition of a trouper; that was it. Over the years I’ve been on the radio in the middle of the night knowing no one was listening (a 15 inning Syracuse Chiefs game from Denver on a station that covered less territory than your Wifi router), been in an improv group that would occasionally play to audiences of seven, and wrote everyday for a blog that when I started out was being read by maybe ten people a week. But I always thought back to Shari Lewis. I learned from her that day what it means to be a consummate pro and I have emulated her ever since.  Sadly, she left us way too soon.  She was only 65 when she passed.   But I'm proud to say she's one of my role models. 

Do you have a surprising role model?  If so, who and why?  And can she yodel?

 

93 comments :

Jim said...

This is easily my favorite anecdote from all of your posts, and I’ve read them all.

SethFront said...

Great blog post! And I'm old enough to remember Shari Lewis.

Philly Cinephile said...

Thanks for sharing this terrific Shari Lewis story. I grew up watching her and remained a fan into adulthood. In addition to the credits you mentioned, she was also an orchestra conductor. She also appeared in a very funny and clever episode of THE NANNY.

I don't have role models, per se, but someone in show business that I have long admired is Vanna White. I know, I know -- but Vanna White is a good example of how to manage one's career. At the height of "Vanna-Mania," she took advantage of acting roles and a book deal, but she always remained with WHEEL OF FORTUNE. In an interview, she remarked that she was aware that she might never work again after WOF, and that she planned to stay with the show as long as the producers wanted her. She also stated that she learned how to handle her finances so she wouldn't have to worry about others taking advantage of her.

It's not uncommon for an actor's sudden fame to go to his or her head and lead to bad decisions (Farrah Fawcett and David Caruso come to mind). However, as famous as Vanna White became, she never lost sight of the nature of her fame and she remained grounded. Next year, she'll celebrate 40 years on WOF.

KLAC Guy said...

Great story. I loved Shari Lewis and this story has made the memory of her even sweeter.

Andy said...

Ken, this is why I come to your blog religiously. I know I'm going to be entertained, educated, and just generally amused.

And then you sprinkle these uber-gems out of proverbial left field in there that do all of those things and dazzle us to boot.

Thank you.

Cantinflas said...

Among her many accomplishments she co-wrote a Star Trek episode, The Lights of Zetar, with her second husband, Jeremy Tarcher.

barry sparks said...

Thanks for sharing. Great story and a great role model.

Mike Barer said...

Yes, I remember Shari Lewis from my childhood. I was shocked years ago to learn of her passing.
I also remember Charlie Horse and Lambchop.
Shari Lewis, may her memory be a blessing!

John said...

Such a sweet and inspiring story about Shari Lewis. Thank you for that.

Also, that Redd Foxx story! I would assume that that inspired one of my favorite jokes from The Simpsons. Basically, Steve Martin voices a character that loses an election for garbage commissioner to Homer, but when Homer ruins Springfield (again) everyone begs him to come back and save the town. So they have a big celebration of Steve's character, cheering him the whole way. As they introduce him to the stage, a band plays the Sanford and Son theme song. He comes out, tells the town they're on they're own, and walks away. With the band playing him off with the Sanford and Son theme song. It kills me every time I even think about it, and it never occurred to me that this already happened. So yeah, thank you a second time!

M. Kirby said...

When Wrest Point Casino in Hobart Tasmania opened in 1973, Shari Lewis was one of the first headline acts.

My next door neighbour (divorced with one child) worked as a barmaid at the Casino.

Shari, who had brought her daughter with her, met my neighbour (her daughter was around the same age).

They not only visited my neighbour's house, but also went on outings during their time off.





BuzzLite2 said...

What a great story and great lesson. The Museum of the City of New York recently opened a puppetry exhibit, and prominently features Lamp Chop and other Shari Lewis characters (along with big NYC stars from the Sesame Street). I was surprised in how excited I was to see Lamp Chop. While I can't recall Shari Lewis being a must-watch show for me, I do remember always liking when she and her pals were on, especially as she joined many a talk show and variety special in the 80s when I was a kid.

Todd Everett said...

A few years ago, I went to a smallish “listening room” (attached to a bar/restaurant) to see a singer-songwriter, here on the West Coast from NYC. He wasn’t a big name, but he’d written a #1 record for another artist. And his show had been on the room’s mailing room for weeks: I’d never heard him, but I liked the song. A gamble worth the $10 door charge, I figured.
I often arrive early, and had bought my ticket in advance, so I walked into the room and seated myself. I was alone, but it was early. What did surprise me was there was nobody taking tickets at the door.
Show time came, and there were four people in the room: the performer, his accompanist (a fairly well known jazz guitarist whose presence hadn’t been advertised), the sound guy, and me.
I approached the headliner, telling him that I could go home and not hold it against him. He said “no,” and proceeded to do a full set. Well worth the $10, too.

Parker said...

"Those were Shari Lewis's." Please add that final "s." The New AP is destroying us in print. It is Bess's doll, Congress's vote, CBS's schedule. Lucas's film. Say it out loud. It makes no sense to drop the "s" in print. Seriously, this has become a plague.

Griff said...

Ken, this is among your very best posts. A great tribute to a wonderful performer and artist. What a pleasure to read on a gloomy Saturday morning. Thank you.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Are you kidding? Shari Lewis happens to be one of my biggest influences in the art of puppetry! Ventriloquism is a skill I have always admired and have also been rather envious of, because it definitely is not as easy as it seems, even she's offered demonstrations on it before on TV (something about bouncing the tip of your tongue off of the back of your teeth to form consonant sounds without moving your lips) - I just never could get the hang of it.

And besides, there is a new generation of ventriloquists emerging in the puppetry world today, such as Darci Lynn Farmer, whom we've all seen gracing our screens on shows like AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, who recently did an entire special with Jeff Dunham, and also another promising young ventriloquist who has been showcasing her talent on YouTube and Instagram, Sandy Netburn.

Still, as a puppeteer, Shari ranks up there with Jim Henson and Sid & Marty Krofft as my biggest influences.

Chuck said...

While I have certainly heard of Shari Lewis, I can't say that I was ever aware as a kid (1970s) of her appearing on any Chicago TV. I suppose I was too busy watching local kids-TV host, Ray Rayner and of course, Bozo. I've never considered this before, but I can honestly say I've never had any role models. There have always been those whose artistry I've enjoyed, but none that I've thought to emulate. Until these past few days, I thought I greatly admired actor Peter Falk. However, I now believe it was really his character, Lt. Columbo, that I actually admired. I'm currently reading the new book, "Shooting Columbo", and if the stories within are true, Falk was an absolute terror to work with on set and off. Ken, your story of your encounter with Shari Lewis is wonderful. She certainly comes across as an excellent role model.

VincentS said...

Not only do I know who she was, did you know she and her husband wrote an episode of STAR TREK? THE LIGHTS OF ZETAR.

James Prichard said...

I love this story. I admire entertainers who always give it their all. Thanks for sharing.

RyderDA said...

Paul Newman. Hell raiser. Devoted husband. Race car drive & team owner. Consummate actor. Philanthropist. Genuine nice guy.

I had the exceptional gift of meeting him once. He had just finished a set of outdoor interviews at a CanAm car race which I watched from afar. We then happened to use the same bathroom (I went in one door, he came in later through a different door). His team was doing well. We talked racing, his devotion to Joanne, his love of making movies. Step out of the bathroom and others approached. He engaged with them, but clearly wasn't finished talking with me, so finished his thoughts and comments before moving on. Supremely polite to everyone. Shook my (washed) hand. Was as generous with his time with others as he was with me. No pretentiousness at all.

To me, he was proof you can "have it all". I think of him when I am not being generous with my time with others.

Rich said...

Ted Williams. From John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu": "For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill."

Craig Gustafson said...

I loved Shari Lewis, who apparently was a tough boss. Well... not *her*...

Garry Marshall wrote about he and Jerry Belson being hired to write for Lewis. Their notes came from Lamb Chop. He said, "Shari was sweet. *Lamb Chop* was murder." Belson and Marshall later wrote "Talk to the Snail" for "The Dick Van Dyke Show," with Paul Winchell as a friendly, reasonable ventriloquist whose puppet Jellybean beats the living shit out of Rob.

I also loved her appearance on "Car 54, Where Are You?", where she played a girl that Fred Gwynne was interested in. He was 6'3". She came up to his navel.

Mister Charlie said...

Great story about Shari, who was probably my first childhood crush. She was young, pretty and talented. Her later kid's show on Disney was great too, even though she was much older, she still charmed me. Lovely lady.

gottacook said...

I remember Shari Lewis fondly from 1960s TV but didn't know until now that she ever gave live performances. I would assume that she took that amusement park gig to keep her skills up; that kind of performance requires constant practice.

Unfortunately the Star Trek episode she co-wrote with her husband (which I saw first-run on NBC, at age 12) was not good, although not the very worst in the series' third and final season. The show's producer had changed, Roddenberry wasn't involved any longer, and nearly all of that season's writers had no real knowledge of the show or of SF in general.

tb said...

My band opened for Elvin Bishop once. I was just so impressed by his performance, I mean he's done a million shows, I guess I was expecting him to phone it in or something but he played as if his life was on the line, left a lasting impression on me. Ya gotta bring it! Always!

Michael said...

That is absolutely wonderful.

First, a joke that Little Jimmy Dickens used to tell on the Grand Ole Opry. He said he went into an auditorium to do a concert and there was one guy present. He said, "Sir, our contract calls for us to perform, and even if you are the only person here, we will do our best to entertain you." The guy replied, "Hurry it up, shorty, I'm the janitor."

I have too many role models to mention, but I'll cite one for a different reason than the usual: Vin Scully. Not because, like Ken, I learned a lot about storytelling from him (I'm a historian, and we need to tell stories when we teach and write). But because Vin has had some tragedy. His first wife was 35 when she died of an accidental overdose of medication, leaving him with three kids. When their partner Don Drysdale died, he and Ross Porter had to do the game knowing it but refusing to say anything until they located Drysdale's wife--and that was in the 8th inning. Early the next year, his son was killed in the aftermath of an earthquake (he was an engineer checking a line and his helicopter crashed). And that Opening Day, the LA Times interviewed him and asked about it and he said that when he went into the booth, he had to put anything personal out of his mind because he had a job to do. And nobody ever did it better.

Unknown said...

Great story about a great lady! I always loved Shari Lewis and was a particular fan of Lamb Chop. (Note - the other day at a superstore I saw Lamb Chop puppets on sale. The good stuff sometimes lives on).

I've been to Belmont Park on one of my trips to San Diego. My friend and I had a great time, including the wooden roller coaster, some miniature golf, some arcade games and fair food, and getting eerily appropriate fortunes from a mechanical fortune teller (I still have mine).

Michael Dorsey said...

I think of Shari Lewis whenever I go to Petco. In the last few years, dog toys based on her Lamb Chops character have become big sellers for pooches. My dog loves them, and we have about 10 of all sizes scattered around the house. I keep wondering how many people buying the toys know about the legacy of the character, but I'm must glad that Shari's greatest creation lives on (and I hope her family is getting some $$$)

D. McEwan said...

I loved Shari's TV show, circa 1960, and watched it every week. I can still sing her theme song, which was all nonsense words. A close friend of mine worked with her on The Nanny, and came immediately to love her.

Not long ago I saw Shari's daughter perform with the original Lamb Chop. Even though Shari was gone, the ten-year-old inside me was excited "meeting" Lamb Chop.

Christopher Reeve was an idol of mine. To have suffered the injury he sustained and still, paralyzed from the neck down, returned to acting and directing! The man was truly Superman. Indomitable. Undefeatable.

Pizzagod said...

ah gee yeah, she was amazing-and great entertainment.

What a lovely piece. I always enjoy you (I drive from Texas to home in Michigan tomorrow and that means I get to catch up on your podcasts) but this was really special.

Thanks for writing it.

Mark Murphy said...

I remember watching Shari Lewis on Saturday mornings.

It was the first time I ever saw Dom DeLuise, who in one episode played a Sherlock Holmes-type character. I don't think he was well known then, if he was known at all.

Great post. Thanks. (And thanks for the mention of my hometown ball club, now called the Syracuse Mets.)

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

I remember Ms. Lewis well, and what a beautiful story.

My choice may be perceived as odd, but Chuck Barris. For years, he was just the mostly unseen producer of "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game," then one day in 1976, Johnny Jacobs, Barris's longtime announcer, unexpectedly introduced him as the host of "The Gong Show" on NBC. (Barris took on those duties at the last minute after he decided the original host he had hired was unsuitable--imagine that, not being good enough to host "The Gong Show.")

A couple of years before that, as "Newlywed" and "Dating" were winding down their original runs on ABC, Barris released a well-written, heartfelt, sophisticated novel called "You and Me, Babe"--an unvarnished and largely autobiographical look at a failed marriage from a man's perspective. The book rose to the seventh position on The New York Times bestsellers list in 1974, and there was talk of a film version with Dustin Hoffman and Brenda Vacarro in the lead roles.

Barris was also a talented musician. The closing theme music to another of his shows, a seventies' syndicated effort called "The New Treasure Hunt," is one of the most elegant pieces ever composed for television, let alone a game show. (Barris credited Elmer Bernstein with the music because of its similarity to "Someday Little Girl" from the 1969 film "True Grit.")

I was gratified to learn in recent years that when Barris was a daytime programming executive at ABC in the early sixties, he and another executive fought to have Black actors hired for soap operas. Barris also participated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s march in Alabama in 1965.

As much flak--some of it deserved--that Barris and his shows took, he was well-liked and respected by his staff, and I never heard any shenanigans about him that
would rival those attributed to Mike Richards.

After 22 years, Barris sold his television production company in 1987 and moved to Saint Tropez to write, emulating two friends--the wonderful journalists Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, authors of "Is Paris Burning?" and other works. Barris ended up publishing about six books, including one on the death of daughter in 1998 after a long battle with drugs and alcohol.

Barris, despite the sometimes unfortunate and counterfeit image television viewers perceived, was a sensitive, intelligent, creative, literate, colorful, and appealing unconventional soul.

He died at 87 in 2017, and I miss him.

gottacook said...

Response to Parker above: My earlier comment included the phrase "although not the very worst in the series' third and final season." Would you really have insisted on my writing "series's"?

Anthony Adams said...

I have loved Shari Lewis since I was a boy. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but I love her more now. Thanks for that story. I can't say I was surprised, but it's a message you can never hear enough.

Ben K. said...

A note on Shari Lewis' husband, Jeremy Tarcher: Early in my career, I had a job reviewing self-help and "human potential" books. A large percentage of the best ones came from his publishing imprint, and I always looked forward to seeing what he would come up with each year. Some were a little too "woo-woo" new-agey for my taste -- but he was an early promoter of healthy ideas that have become mainstream, such as meditation, yoga, and methods to boost your creativity.

Bob Paris said...

In 1987 I saw Peter Allen at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos CA. There were maybe twelve people in the audience. Peter came out, surveyed the crowd and said, "I am so pissed off. How did you find out about tonight's show? I told them not to tell anyone!" Turns out the stage revolved and Peter advised us that a better use of energy would be turning off the motor and we get up and move to the next section between songs. He put on a great show and, like your comment about Shari Lewis' agent, would have done well to get a better booker.

Lemuel said...

@Chuck: I only learned after his death that Ray Rayner had participated in the POW breakout filmed as "The Great Escape". I was already aware that he did NOT get along with animals and that Chelveston the Duck was an unconcionable asshole.

Joyce Melton said...

Loved Shari Lewis and loved your story. My role model has the same initials.

Stan Lee. Once at a San Diego ComicCon, Stan was late to speak to an auditorium full of people and was being hurried along the aisle by one of the con organizers when a fan stood up and stepped in his way.

The fan said something like, "I just wanted to tell you how much I respect and admire you. Your line about "With great power comes great responsibility" is some of the greatest wisdom in print."

While the organizer fumed, Stan thanked the kid (who was about sixteen) and explained that he had to hurry since he was already late and lots of people were waiting for him. The kid thanked Stan and got out of the way.

As Stan and his minder hurried past my seat, about four rows further down, I heard the companion say, "Sorry about that asshole."

But Stan was having none of that and said, "He was a fan. We wouldn't even be here without thousands of people just like him. Never disrespect the fans." Stan understood his own wisdom.

David said...

I worked at a local TV station in Atlanta. Vanna was there one day and as she walked out the front door, a senior citizen was walking unsteadily toward her. She urged him to take his time, walked over to him, greeted him warmly and initiated a conversation. She made the man feel like the most important person in the world. Not an ounce of artifice. I still smile and think about that when I see Vanna White on TV.

RoyHobbs said...

Another great story, Ken. If Shari had bowed out politely that day instead of performing, only you and a couple of others would have known and certainly understood why. There would be no story for many to read years after her passing. There would be no admiration or inspiration. The payoff for good behavior isn't always immediate. How sweet to remember her via your story today. We should all hope to be adorned with such accolades years after our legacy is completed.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Mark Murphy Shari later used Dom on her CHARLIE HORSE MUSIC PIZZA show which was something of a beachside spinoff of LAMB CHOP'S PLAY-ALONG, in which he played the resident chef of the titular Music Pizza. As a kid, it was the first time I had ever seen Dom DeLuise in something live action after hearing his voice in so many animated movies growing up (well, there was also his cameo in THE MUPPET MOVIE, but at that age, I didn't know who half of the celebrity cameos were in Muppet movies).

Parker said...

@ gottacook

No, of course not. The mistake, is that everyone assumes that the possessive for a word ending in "s," is merely an apostrophe. Every time. The classic writing styles (still in use, until recently at NYT, WP, etc.) have various usages, and exceptions. The bus's tire. Yes. The three satellites' antennas. Yes. James' or James's book. Both have been accepted. The series' episodes. Yes. The Peters' house. Yes. The Jones's house, or the Jones' house. Both acceptable for decades.

The standard rules were quite simple. If it sounds really odd to say it with an additional "s," then avoid it. But it is: Lucas's film, Bess's doll, Congress's vote. Again, what do you say when you speak? You don't say, "Hey, there's Bess' doll." That makes no sense.

People have even gone so far as to think a word ending with a "z," can't have an "s" after the apostrophe when possessive. It is, "Showbiz's trends have changed throughout the centuries." It is also correct to say, "Showbiz trends have changed throughout the centuries." But then the word becomes descriptive, rather than possessive.

This all started en masse about ten years ago. The New AP Style just changed the standard writing style, and created a non-sensical approach. Listen to any newscaster, they WILL say, "Congress's vote was a surprise." "CBS's schedule changed this fall" can only make sense.

It's just ridiculous. I spoke to one of my old college English professors, and it makes her rabid.

I pulled out my old writing guide from the 80s, and the rules are right there.

WHY The New AP changed it, I don't know. Granted there was an old writing guide that was similar to The New AP, but it was frowned upon by most journalists, professors, etc. - for decades.

I understand that grammar is "fluid," but this "evolution" is just stupid.

Google it. Even CNN finally jumped on the bandwagon. They will still say it one way via broadcasting, but now type these words using The New AP. It's madness.

You would say, and type, "There is Shari Lewis's puppet." You print what you would correctly speak.

I frankly blame newer generations who never learned the grammar rules - never taught, actually.

If I hear ONE more person use "laying" instead of "lying," I will scream. "Lying" is to rest/recline. "Laying" is to place. "Every day" versus "everyday." "Every one" versus "everyone."



Jim, Cheers Fan said...

that's an awesome story. I remember Shari Lewis on the Muppet Show, and the kind of game shows that featured celebrities, I think Hollywood Squares or Match Game.

Belson and Marshall later wrote "Talk to the Snail" for "The Dick Van Dyke Show," with Paul Winchell as a friendly, reasonable ventriloquist whose puppet Jellybean beats the living shit out of Rob.
another awesome story! I'd completely forgotten about that episode. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw the DVD show. The nostalgia channels gotta step up their game!

I see some of my fellow viewers of Old School WGN in this thread. Just want to throw Frazier Thomas and Family Classics into the mix. For some reason watching the Gregory Peck version of Moby DIck is the movie I always associate with FC, though god knows how many of classics I first saw on that program back in the 70s

LaBarge said...

What a nice tribute to Shari Lewis! I had a similar experience in the early 80s when The Temptations appeared at a Washington State fair. There was no additional charge for their performance, which began with less than a dozen people in the audience on the grass. By the end of their performance, the crowd was larger, but we were amazed that they kept up such a superior performance for such a small crowd. Such true class, such consideration for the fans. Thanks for a lovely column today.

Brian said...

I was at one of those Redd Fox shows in Vegas at midnight. As a newly married couple, we didn't have much money, but my wife and I wanted to see a show. Don Rickles was at the Golden Nugget and tickets were $30. Redd Fox was at the Sands or Stardust (I remember which), and tickets were $15. Thankfully there were enough people in the audience. It wasn't crowded though. We got to sit right by the stage. He even looked at me once and said "You almost laughed".

One of my role models is Dean Kamen for founding First Robotics. He wanted to create a sports like atmosphere competition where kids learn engineering. Another role model would be Andy Weir - a programmer who became an author and wrote "The Martian".

Actor wise, I admire Ted Danson. I don't buy into typecasting. Almost immediately during the pilot, he transformed from Sam Malone to John Becker. Its not even a issue when watching the two shows interchangeably.

Cap'n Bob said...

As a child I didn't like Shari's puppets and rarely watched her show. When I got older I appreciated Shari's beauty and talent but still wasn't a fan of the puppets. My dog does have a Lambchop toy, however, which my wife got her for Xmas.

My role model has been the same for over 60 years: Eddie Haskell.

Frank said...

I saw her daughter do a puppet act at the magic castle about a decade ago. There were a lot of autobiographical asides. She definitely did not seem to regard her mom as a role model to your extent.

estiv said...

Someone who has gradually become a role model of mine is John Lee Hooker. His work is, on the surface, about as simple as music can be, but he was a master performer. I've played music in public, and when I listen to his recordings, especially of live performances, I'm amazed at how he can hold an audience seemingly effortlessly. It's a great example of really knowing your tools (guitar and voice in his case) and how to use them effectively. For people who are looking for something flashy he won't hold much appeal, but if you want to go deep he's always rewarding. Nowadays his style is best known for inspiring Billy Gibbons'homage/loving ripoff on "LaGrange."

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Edward Bleier was the other former ABC daytime programming executive who, with Chuck Barris, pushed to have Black actors included on soap operas.

TroyDeVolld said...

Great post!

Jon said...

For those looking for DVD Show on a nostalgia channel, METV currently runs the show in 2 back-to-back episodes at 11 PM ET Sunday nights.

Bob said...

Great story!

I had a similar experience at a Huey Lewis concert at the Hartford Agora. This was before Sports came out. I brought three people with me and we were half of the audience. The band hit the stage and Huey ran to the foot of the stage and surveyed the “crowd”. He turned to the band and shrugged. They played their full 90+ minute set.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) is the arbiter for this and similar rules (like the serial comma) and provides online examples and usually the rationale as you've done here. There are a lot of q&a threads that can be accessed for free and also editing tests to learn the rules. Most academic and scholarly publishers follow CMS (though it depends on the field). As a longtime copyeditor I found that many authors, professors, etc. have contempt for the rules and will wrongly argue against them. Also a lot of text is dictated instead of typed so grammar rules are an afterthought.

Yes, it's "Bridget Jones's Diary." But "the Joneses' house."

Spike de Beauvoir said...

One of my dearest role models is Allan Sherman. I met him briefly in the 60s when my family traveled to NYC for the world's fair. We went to Stage's Deli late one night and Allan was sitting by himself at a table in a corner hunched over a large pizza. I knew I had to say hi to him because even at that tender age I listened to his records nonstop and was a huge fan. I approached his table but I was too shy to say anything. I was a very chubby little kid and was teased mercilessly at school with fat jokes (teachers never tried to intervene or stop the bullying). Anyway Allan just looked at me so knowingly without a trace of condescension and smiled sweetly. I felt like he "got me."

I'm so conflicted about the recent biography of Allan, "Overweight Sensation." There are a lot of wonderful lyrics to unrecorded songs, anecdotes, and unpublished writings (one marvelous entry from his youth is his exuberant fantasy about a "comedy department store" filled with comedy bits on every floor). But the book is stuffed with the worst kind of pseudointellectual twaddle suggesting that everything Sherman did or wrote was an expression of Jewish culture and sociology. Even worse, he is savagely critical of Sherman's vulnerability and wayward mistakes and it amounts to character assassination. Which doesn't make sense since Cohen presents himself as a champion of Sherman's work and has made a lot of material accessible online.

Since grammar has come up in this thread I want to recommend one of Sherman's funniest parodies, "Night and Day (with Punctuation Marks)" from Allan in Wonderland. It's on YouTube, here are the lyrics:
Like the beat comma beat comma beat of the tom hyphen tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick hyphen tick hyphen tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip comma drip comma drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
Some voice within me keeps repeating
Colon, quotation mark
You comma you comma you, exclamation point
Close quotation, period, dash

Night and day, comma
You are the one, dash
Only to you comma beneath the moon comma and under the sun
Semicolon
Whether near to me or far, dot dot dot
It's no matter comma darling comma where you are, dash
I think of you, comma
Night and day, period. New paragraph
Night and day, exclamation point
Under the height of me. Dash
There's an oh such a hungry yearning comma
Burning parenthesis inside of me
Closed parenthesis, period
(Well, "inside of me" is a parenthetical phrase that describes where the yearning is burning.)
And torment won't be through
Until you let me spend my life making love to you. Asterisk!
('Cause there's a footnote at the bottom that tells who's making love to who.)
Spend my life making love to you
Day and night?
Night and day, question mark
Night and day!

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm older than Ken, so of course I remember Shari fondly.

I AM fascinated by the apostrophe debate. I'm just happy when they don't write the Jone's house. Or add apostrophes when not showing possession, such as 5 apple's for a dollar.

thevidiot said...

Harry Chapin. I went to see "Blood, Sweat & Tears" in Columbus,OH and there were two warmup acts. Harry was second - he had that song "Taxi" out that I had heard a few times. He blew me away with his story songs, dirty dittys and then came out & took the empty seat next to me to watch BS&T. He was by far the best act of the three and was extremely nice & friendly to a high school kid. I was saddened a few years later to hear of his death in a car accident but I stilk listen regularly to his story songs & love them.

thevidiot said...

Harry Chapin. I went to see "Blood, Sweat & Tears" in Columbus,OH and there were two warmup acts. Harry was second - he had that song "Taxi" out that I had heard a few times. He blew me away with his story songs, dirty dittys and then came out & took the empty seat next to me to watch BS&T. He was by far the best act of the three and was extremely nice & friendly to a high school kid. I was saddened a few years later to hear of his death in a car accident but I stilk listen regularly to his story songs & love them.

ScarletNumber said...

@Kevin FitzMaurice

Since Ken mentioned an amusement park in his post, you were remiss in not mentioning that Barris wrote the Freddie Cannon hit Palisades Park.

@Joyce Melton

I don't understand the point of your story. There was no reason for Stan Lee's handler to refer to the fan that way, since that was probably Stan's most famous quote.

MSOLDN said...

Ken, that story has really brightened my spirits on an autumnal Sunday afternoon here in London. Shari was probably the first woman I had a crush on, when I was a regular 5-6 year-old fan of her Hi Mom show on WRCA-TV (WNBC) in NYC circa 1956-7. A tremendous talent!

Pat Reeder said...

Laura and I both loved Shari Lewis and have met and worked with her daughter Mallory on a couple of shows. She's also a great ventriloquist and performs with Lamb Chop and Charley Horse. A lot of other people must remember Shari, too, since she does a tribute show to her mom that we saw here in Dallas, and the theater was packed. About 150 times more people came to see that tribute to Shari Lewis than came to see the actual Shari Lewis the day you saw her.

This post reminds me of a great story told to us by the late Charlie Callas during a comedy festival in Vegas. He said when he was trying to make it as a comic, nothing was working. He had no money and only one job lined up, a late night lounge gig. After that, nothing. He looked out and saw an empty house, except for one drunk couple snogging each other in a booth. That was it: he decided that after this show, he was going to give up and get a real job. But if it was to be his last show, then he decided to go out giving it all he had.

So he burst out on stage and went pedal to the metal, doing all his wackiest jokes and sound effects for the two drunks ignoring him. When he was done, he said, "Thank you and good night!" and went back to his dressing room feeling defeated and depressed. Then he heard a knock and looked up. Tom Jones was standing in the doorway. He said he'd just finished in the big showroom and was heading for his room when he heard these weird sounds coming from the lounge. So he peeked in and was stunned to see Charlie performing his heart out for a nearly empty house. Jones admired his professionalism so much that he asked if Charlie was available to be part of a show he was doing next month. Yes, he quickly replied, he was definitely available!

One month later, Callas found himself in England where he discovered he was on the bill for Tom Jones' command performance for Queen Elizabeth. He was a hit, and it launched his career. Backstage, as he was waiting in line to meet the Royals, he thought back on how, one month before, he was ready to give up and go work in a shoe store. He said his whole life changed because of that one nightmare of a show.

He told us the lesson he tried to impart to all young comics was that no matter how small the audience, always perform as if it's the most important show of your life because you never know who might be among those two or three people who are watching you.

Tracy Carman said...

Your story about Sheri Lewis is timely. I had lunch the other day with a friend of mine who, like me, has children 18 and younger. We were talking about all of the shows (mostly Disney produced) which were a bad influence on our kids. Then our generation shows came up, and the first person who came to mind was Sheri Lewis. The shows were entertaining without being over the top nor trying to teach some moral lesson. There were others in that era, too, but we talked about Sheri and Lambchop for a while before moving on to the Disney cesspool of kids shows (Zack and Cody; Even Stevens and so on).

Musically, I've always been a fan of The 5th Dimension, whom I saw in concert on my 13th birthday. I was able to interview Billy Davis, Jr and Marilyn McCoo a couple of years ago, which was a thrill as it was 46 years after I'd first seen them in concert. I'd seen the group several times over the years. They were terrific as performers and I went to the three shows they did over three days. The first show was mobbed with people generally 60 and older. The weekend show, this being held at a "county fair" type setting, were relatively dead as mostly parents with young kids were attending the fair (and the free show). They also came out after the show to sign autographs and were as gracious as can be and engaged in conversations with my kids. In the musical entertainment arena, they make the top of my hero list.

Parker said...

@ Spike

"Joneses'" is one that I would have missed. At least now. My high school English teacher was nicknamed "Bloody Rose," (her first name) as she would butcher your papers with red mark corrections. This has inspired me to haul out my "Little, Brown Handbook." I want to remember what I've forgotten.

Yes, CMS was brought up constantly during my "youth."

Someone who loves to go after grammar mistakes is...Weird Al Yankovic. (A fan of Sherman's.)

flurb said...

That was a particularly lovely, thought-provoking post, Ken. When I was growing up, I only rarely changed the channel in time to catch Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, and that frustration led me, after I learned to read, to memorize the tv schedule. So she's the reason I'm a nerd - or so I excuse it.

This is not exactly a perfect role-model story, but here goes. After a performance of a musical, I dragged several cast and orchestra members down to a jazz club to catch Carmen McRae's final Sunday-night set. The audience consisted of our table of seven 20-something fans, an older couple to our left, and an extremely drunk party of six to the right, which was obstreperously yapping and laughing all during Ms. McRae's performance. Carmen was not best pleased, and she delivered her chilling hawk glare to that table several times. (Though I wished she hadn't had to employ it, it was something to see, and as an actor I've used my version of it in several productions.) She finished perhaps her fourth number, and, clearly angry, left the stage. At 23, I was too young to think I could make a stink to management, let alone challenge sots to a duel, but I was furious on her behalf. Her pianist, after a few minutes, came to the mic and told us that Ms. McRae would like to come back out if we were to listen respectfully. Everybody clapped and agreed. Carmen returned and sang a number, but the whiskey-soaked dopes couldn't keep their part of the compact; so she moved to the piano herself and sang the rest of her set to the left side of the house exclusively. She was still irritated between numbers, but during them? Fantastic. I sent her a napkin note of praise and apology on behalf of us listeners afterward. McRae was one of those singers whose magnetic personality was never completely captured on records; but if she was singing right at you, and, in our case, pointedly so? Well, I never forgot it.

Greg Ehrbar said...

@ Michael Dorsey
Our dog Romy has Lamb Chop plushes of various sizes and lovingly hugs and chews her way through one specific size (the one resembling the "real" Lamb Chop--how does she know?) so often that we keep replacements handy. She has a basket of toys and several favorites (Squeaky Snake, Pink Bear That Looks Like an Ice Pack, etc.) but even now she is napping with Lamb Chop. We keep a sticker of Lamb Chop on her kibble jar.

Frankly, nowadays Shari Lewis deserves better. In this era of supposedly extolling the importance of women in media and business and general achievement, she is overlooked as a feisty, determined female who took a sock and other household objects and forged a career through versatility, talent and tenacity that spanned decades. It seems to me that people like Shari Lewis aren't being recognized enough because they are not part of a marketing initiative, not because it's just the right thing to do.

She should be remembered as a current ongoing icon for what she did for kids and entertainment in entertainment when no other woman was doing it. And she wasn't doing it as a statement about being a woman doing it, she was reaching out to kids and parents and later even to more sophisticated audiences. She conducted symphony orchestras. She wrote books of crafts and edited collections of stories.

I have all her records, from 78 rpm to digital. I wrote the liner notes for her first album, for Golden Records, when it was first released on CD. It is now on Spotify, along with one of her RCA Victor albums.
https://open.spotify.com/album/6YRixe2ZWOPkRTt5N8a2H2

One other person worth noting is Lan O'Kun, her brother-in-law and frequent collaborator who wrote hundreds of songs and sketches for her and was instrumental in the development of Lamb Chop's character. I interviewed him not long ago about the 1969 Christmas special he did for NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame, a musical version of The Littlest Angel, with Fred Gwynne, Johnny Whitaker, Cab Calloway and Tony Randall (with E.G. Marshall as God!) Often you will see his name in connection with Shari Lewis.

Her daughter, Mallory Lewis, is a proud booster of her mother's work (as opposed to some children of celebrities who have nothing good to say about their parents). She has performed the characters at Comic-Con in San Diego.

Shari Lewis rocks. Put her on a stamp along with Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse and Wing Ding for gosh sakes.

Oh, and by the way, I respectfully admit I occasionally make spelling and grammatical errors in my posts here. We're among friends, I assume. I make my living as a freelance writer but I can't take an enormous amount of time posting stuff, yet I do when I really should be doing work that pays (as my wife often reminds me). I hope my errors can be forgiven. If not, simply skip my comments. As Jack Klugman said, "I need writers. I can hire other people to spell."

Norm said...

Fortunately, Shari was a fixture on television LONG past the '70s, mostly PBS.

Her final program, THE CHARLIE HORSE MUSIC PIZZA originally aired in 1998!

While working in children's programming at ABC, I was fortunate to acquire a videotape of two (2) B&W Kinescope recordings of her NBC Saturday morning show (sadly, the videotapes (in COLOR) are long gone). One features Dom Deluise and one with Margaret Hamilton!

I donated copies to the UCLA FILM & TV Archive and the Museum of Radio and TV.

Big Murr said...

Yet another of the crowd who have nothing but fond childhood memories of Shari Lewis. We three kids each received a Shari Lewis puppet for Christmas and I received "Hush Puppy" the dog. It seems wacky to me that this puppet is not mentioned anywhere, by anyone.

My special role model in this sort of theme is an unknown sculptor from Ancient Greece. He (she?) did an fine statue of Hercules that was intended for an alcove, with the hero always facing outwards with his bow. His back was never intended to be on view, but the sculptor maintained the same standard of detail all the way around. Whenever I feel lazy and maybe cut a corner or two, I remember that sculptor.

Breadbaker said...

Shari wrote a book called "One-Minute Jewish Stories" that was a staple in our household as my son was growing up. Oddly, last week I spent an hour trying to figure out its original publication date (every reference I could find was to a 1989 reissue) without success. It's just a great introduction to Jewish history and legend.

Greg Ehrbar said...

I should also mention Norman Martin, who wrote enormous amounts of material for Shari Lewis, including "Lamb Chop's Play-Along series and recordings. He also co-produced and wrote most of one of my favorite albums with Dinah Shore on Sesame Street called "I've Got a Song."

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous gottacook said...
Response to Parker above: My earlier comment included the phrase "although not the very worst in the series' third and final season." Would you really have insisted on my writing "series's"?"


Yes, "series's" would be correct. The VERY FIRST RULE in Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, a copy of which I keep beside my computer to consult whenever necessary, is "1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule WHATEVER the final consonant..." [Emphasis on "whatever" is mine.] "...Thus write, Charles's friend, Burns's poems, the witch's malice." The word "series" in your example is a singular noun, as it refers to one, specific TV series, so "series's" is correct. It's also the correct way to pronounce it. If you were using "series" as a plural pronoun, then just an apostrophe would be correct. "I hate all TV series' banality" would be correct, at least grammatically.

For instance, if you were, in S&W's example, to refer to a common element in all of Burns's poems, you would write "I like Burns's poems' meters," because "Burns" is a singular noun, referring to one person, but in that example "poems" is a plural noun, referring to all of Burn's poems. If it was referring to one, specific poem only, then "Burns's poem's meter" would be correct. Note that the plurality of "Meter" also changes in the two examples.

Sorry. There's nothing like having a minor in English to make one a grammar Nazi.

Greg Ehrbar said...

@Breadbaker

I often quote something she said about a Jewish celebration TV special that find extremely warm and welcoming and highly powerful especially in this era of division and rejection. It may have been in TV Guide.

As I recall, it was to the effect of, even if you were not of the same faith, she would love to have you join in with her because, "If I were having a birthday party, wouldn't I want to invite you to that, too?"

Ere I Saw Elba said...

As a musician, I've played gigs where there was no one in the audience, save for the bar staff and sound guy. And we got free beer.

More to the point, it was worth it just to practice in a no-pressure environment, and to maintain professionalism.

And we got free beer. Did I mention free beer?

Jeff Maxwell said...

What a great story. Sheri Lewis created a such a wonderfully kind, nurturing, cute, wise, funny, caring relationship between her and that adorable yarn named Lamb Chop. She was a my first crush, too. Sheri, not the yarn.

On the other side of the Foxx: A million years ago, my comedy team was hired by Redd Foxx to perform at his club in Los Angeles. Redd couldn’t have been nicer to us. He would watch our set and chime in with suggestions. We took the all. He decided to identify each night in the club - “Date Night,” “Costume Night,” etc. Thursday night was deemed, “Gay Night.” Date Night - good crowd. Costume Night - good crowd. Gay night - one guy.

Redd, we can’t do our show for one guy...
Hey, you guys are drink salesmen. Now go out and sell that guy some drinks!

We did. That one guy was a great audience, laughed at every joke. Lesson learned.

Gotta a few role models, including a guy named Ken Levine.

D. Musick said...

Billy Preson...back in the early 80's, I had a great night on the roulette table at Harvey's in Lake Tahoe. I ran back to our room, roused my buddies (we were there skiing for spring break) and told them I was treating them to the midnight show. It was us (4 of us) and one other couple in the room. That's it. Billy still came out and played his heart out like it was an audience of 5,000. Great show, great performer, and I became a fan for life.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Wonderful story, I love Carmen McRae! I've heard interviews with her about her life and work with jazz musicians and they are riveting. She shouldn't have had to endure those disrespectful patrons, management should have thrown the bums out.

I saw Betty Carter perform at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. She wore a gorgeous gold lame gown and was awesome.

DwWashburn said...

I love vents and I admired Ms. Lewis. My Mom used to marvel at her dancing in high heels. When I first moved to Vegas she came through signing books at a local bookstore. I couldn't make it over there to meet her. Two years later she passed away. One of the big regrets of my life.

gottacook said...

D. McEwan: I have always enjoyed your comments over the years I've been coming here, but I must respectfully take issue with this latest one. Although it may be true what you write about the effect of having been an English minor, I know from 36 years as a professional copyeditor that sticking dogmatically to style rules can sometimes interfere with clarity of presentation. Real experience every day dealing with and querying manuscripts by scientists has taught me more than any style guide ever could (and I've written a few).

DBenson said...

Faint boomer memories of the show. We had the puppets, molded rubber heads attached to stretchy sleeves. Also little plastic finger puppets from inside some cereal.

Yes, neither Hush Puppy nor Charlie Horse got as much quality time as Lamb Chop. I do recall a syndicated Disney show, "Mouse Factory", had Lewis and Hush Puppy as guest hosts. The theme was cats, and Hush Puppy complained about all the cat-centric cartoon clips.

In answer to a Friday question, our host offered a story of Nathan Lane. He was starring in a sitcom that had already been cancelled, but contracts allowed/required the shooting of a few more episodes -- extra paydays for the soon-to-be-unemployed crew. Lane, knowing full well the episodes would never see air, was still thoroughly professional and gave it his all.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

I entered an editing training program when I finished college. We all had dogeared copies of the Chicago Manual of Style with little paper strips marking each section and were quizzed so often we practically had that thing memorized. We engaged in long, somber, Talmud-like discussions of how to handle trivial editing controversies. I graduated the program but I had shpilkes at that age and couldn't bear being chained to a desk. So I got involved in the arts and never looked back till many years later when I lost a job and was floundering. I brushed up on my copyediting skills and worked in academic publishing for a long while where CMS was rigidly applied. Then another transition and I started working more with individual authors, much more satisfying and focused on burnishing the author's style and clarity of expression. But CMS and other grammatical standards can really help polish things up. They're especially helpful in nonfiction where there are lots of footnotes and references because the trend is to shorten things with abbreviations, styling, etc. so citations don't clutter up the page and having a system means you don't have to think about the small stuff too much.

But since an illness happened I cut back on editing and I'm much more focused on my own writing projects and driven by urgency to make the most of my time.

One thing that was frustrating for me about editing is that often you're not exactly showered with praise for your hard work, more like grudging acceptance. And speaking of role models (that's the focus here, right?), my favorite writer, Barbara Pym, worked as a copy editor at a scholarly journal for two decades to support her work as a novelist. She called editing "a thankless task" and that phrase was even the working title for her autobiography. But she cleverly used the characters and quirks of that dusty and obscure little world in some of her best and funniest novels (Less Than Angels, No Fond Return of Love). I still laugh out loud rereading her books and she's wonderfully bitchy.

Michael said...

My high school English teacher explained lay/lie thusly: Lay is transitive and lie is intransitive and the way you remember this is, nobody ever got a good lay from an inactive partner.

Parker said...

McEwan...

"If it was referring to one, specific poem only, then "Burns's poem's meter" would be correct." Please remind me why it is not, "If it were...." I am forgetting these things.

RockGolf said...

I saw Canadian comedian Dave Broadfoot in a 300 seat theater occupied by at most a dozen people.
His opening line was "Boy, this place must be exclusive. Look how few of us they let in!"

Storm said...

I thought my li'l ol' lady Pug, Miss CheeChee LaRoo, was weird for being so obsessed with her Lamb Chop toy! I'm glad it's not just her. We were waiting for my friend to get out of the grocery store, and he surprised her with it (impulse buy at the check-out; CheeChee had just come to us, and he wanted to make friends) when he got out to the car. "Hey, look, what's th--HEY!" Shy little thing snatched from his hand and it's been her fave ever since. Just the thing for biting down on while snoring.

Your story made me think of a scene from one of my favorite movies: "I told them specifically, the sign should say 'SPINAL TAP and Puppet Show'!"

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Fed by the muse said...

Fred Rogers is definitely a role model for me in the sense he was such a creative person: imaginative writer, skilled and sensitive performer and accomplished composer and songwriter (as heard both in his catchy songs and his NOM operas for children). A masterful talent who never lost a child-like fasciation for discovery.

D. McEwan said...

Parker said...
McEwan...
"If it was referring to one, specific poem only, then "Burns's poem's meter" would be correct." Please remind me why it is not, "If it were...." I am forgetting these things.


Ya got me. I should have used "were," not "was." My editor on my first novel also hit me with that one, as it's an error I make habitually.

On the other hand, when putting a quote within a quote, the quote within the quote should use single apostrophes, not double quote marks as you did --- in America. In England, it's single apostrophes for quotes, and double quotation marks for quotes within quotes. But in neither country is it double quote marks for quotes and also for quotes within quotes.

Gottacook, I'll stick with Strunk & White, thanks all the same. "Series's" remains correct.

D. McEwan said...

I alerted my friend who was a writer/producer on The Nanny, and worked with Shari Lewis the week she did that show, to this column. She emailed back to me this.

"What a great post! Thanks for letting me know. She was really nice and funny when she guested on The Nanny, and she signed my vintage Lambchop hand puppet and a Shari Lewis doll holding a Lambchop doll I'd purchased just for the occasion. I loved her as a kid. I do recall that during the week as we were writing the episode, Fran came to the writers' room and pointedly said, 'the puppet's getting all the jokes'."

(Gottacook, note that Jayne used her possessive apostrophe correctly as "Writer" in that sentence was a plural noun.)

gottacook said...

D. McE.: On that point, what really bothers me is when someone writes a possessive like "childrens' " or "peoples' ". (It's possible to conceive of a sentence that uses the latter correctly, such as "The world's peoples' average height...", but no one would write that.)

D, McEwan said...

Gottacook, both "childrens'" and "Peoples'" would be incorrect, as the actual plural nouns, "Children" and "People," do not end with an "s". An apostrophe with no "s" is only correct with plural nouns that do end with "s".

Parker said...

@ D. McE

Yes, I know the single apostrophes within quotes in the US....etc. This just gets very tedious, typing posts so often.

gottacook said...

Douglas - Of course. Why are you reacting as if I disagree?

D. McEwan said...

"gottacook said...
Douglas - Of course. Why are you reacting as if I disagree?"


I was agreeing with you.

"Parker said...
@ D. McE
Yes, I know the single apostrophes within quotes in the US....etc. This just gets very tedious, typing posts so often."


Yeah, you have to spell and punctuate, and eventually, not hitting that shift key to get so you get ' instead of " is exhausting.

Yet you missed my untyped point: You caught an error in my post correcting someone else and pointed it out. Fair. But you'd also made the quotation marks error in your correction of me, so after accepting your correction, I batted one back to you. Also fair.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

D. McEwan, gottacoook, Parker: You should compile your posts into a humor piece and submit it to the New Yorker.

Tom Galloway said...

Some friends of mine were on vacation in Europe. By pure chance, they and Vanna and her husband are in the same restaurants at the same times several nights in a row. Both couples eventually realized this and struck up a conversation. My friends reported that she seemed like a nice, non-egotistical person.

Jim said...

There is a documentary currently in production about Ms. Lewis. “Shari & Lamb Chop” will be directed by Emmy-nominated Lisa D’Apolito, director of “Love, Gilda,” the documentary about the late Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner. Keep a look out for it!

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Brenda Vaccaro--apologies for the misspelling above.