Texas Hill Country is Becoming a Mecca for Movie Making

With the help of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP), the Lone Star State initiative  is designed to build the state and local economies through the moving image industry and create jobs in Texas communities.

BOERNE

Just 30-minutes northwest of San Antonio International Airport is the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Boerne, Texas, where I raised my family.

It has been discovered by Hollywood for years as the city offers a picturesque vintage backdrop featuring turn-of-the-century architecture nestled in its thriving business district filled with modern boutiques, breweries, and restaurants that are ready to serve.

Their bustling downtown, the Hill Country Mile, is a colorful canvas of quaint shops flanked by winding pedestrian paths and parks situated along the gorgeous Cibolo Creek. At its heart, Boerne is anchored by a 170-year-old traditional Main Plaza, complete with a historic gazebo and surrounded by heritage Oaks.

Boerne is one of now over 150 communities across the state in the Film Friendly Texas program, including the neighboring cities of Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Blanco, Bandera, and San Antonio.  

The Film Friendly Texas program provides ongoing training and guidance on media industry standards and best practices to help communities accommodate media production for film and TV. Film Friendly Certified Communities are trained to match local businesses with production-related needs and services while creating jobs for Texas-based crew members and residents.

Some notable productions filmed in Boerne over the years, including 1973’s The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn; 1997’s The Newton Boys, starring Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke; and 1999’s All the Pretty Horses, starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz.

Just minutes west of Boerne on Highway 46 is Enchanted Springs Ranch.

Enchanted Springs Ranch began as a Hollywood movie set in 2001 and has been a preferred filming location for over 20 years. The ranch features a large-scale Old West town that is perfect for filming movies, commercials, TV shows and music videos. The ranch is listed as an approved filming venue with the San Antonio Film Commission and works closely with the Austin Film Commission.

Texas-based TV travel programs like The Daytripper and YOLO TX have also filmed in and around Boerne.

SAN MARCOS

In the summer of 2022, San Marcos–home to Texas State University–announced the construction of a $267 million, 820,000-square-foot TV, film and virtual production studio.

City officials billed it as a studio set to bring in more than 1,400 industry jobs to the community.

“The multiuse project, located at the entrance of the La Cima master-planned community, will also feature modern lifestyle and collaborative workplace amenities, headlined by post-production facilities, a 50-seat screening theater and a full-service restaurant and coffee shop,” Hill Country Group said. “Twenty-five acres will be reserved for vendor and commercial space built to serve both the studio and surrounding community.”

MOVIES FILMED IN HILL COUNTRY

Some movies made in the Texas Hill Country region include (note movies I have appeared in are designated with “*” symbol):

Lonesome Dove

The Alamo

The Getaway

7 Days in Utopia

Boyhood

Time Trap

Miss Congeniality

Selena

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

STRINGS*

Piranha*

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Attack on Terror: FBI vs. Klu Klux Klan*

Race With the Devil

Viva Max!

In God We Trust

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

Hollywood Actor James Woods’ Wisdom to Upset Communists

Actor James Woods is one of the few Hollywood actors brave and tough enough to pull no punches while standing up to liberal socialists. He tells it like it actually is. God Bless America. Amen.

In God We Trust

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

Where Did ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ Come From?

During World War II (1945), a Japanese boy stood in front of a funeral pyre and waited his turn to cremate his little dead brother.

The person who took the photograph said, in an interview, that the boy was biting his lips so hard to keep from crying that blood was dripping from the corner of his mouth.

It was then that the guard asked him for the body and said, “Give me the load you are carrying on your back.” And the boy answered:

“He ain’t heavy, he is my brother”. He handed over the body, turned around, and left…

In Japan, even today, this image is used as a symbol of strength.

In college during the mid 1970s, I had the opportunity to meet and interview some music entertainers of the times. As the Fine Arts Editor for the Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) University Star, it helped me go backstage for artists like Freddy Mercury and Queen, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Alvin Lee with Ten Years After, and more.

One of my classmates was a young fellow who would sit out in the hall before a business class trying to catch up because he had been out singing late into the night before. You may have heard of him–George Strait.

A special moment was meeting Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina backstage before their San Antonio Municipal Auditorium (now the expanded Tobin Center) concert. I secured autographs, asked a few questions and was allowed to watch their sound check.

From the side of the stage they sat on stools, side-by-side, singing to an empty auditorium that would soon be filled to the brim.

The song was “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” I had heard the recordings by The Hollies and Neil Diamond, but this one time “personal” performance remains in my heart and memories to this day.

It was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. They only met three times to collaborate before Russell died of lymphoma.

A guy name Reginald played piano on The Hollies’ version which was released in 1970. It was a worldwide hit. You likely know the piano player by another name–Elton John.

The title actually didn’t come from the Japanese picture shown above. It came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.”

Today, there is a statue with that phrase that serves as the symbol for Boys Town.

In 1938, actor Spencer Tracey portrayed Father Flanagan in the movie Boys Town, which also starred Mickey Rooney. In 1941, they made a sequel called Men Of Boys Town, where they used the phrase “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother” for the first time in a movie.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

3 Thoughts on Amber Heard’s Reaction to the Johnny Depp Case

In September 2008, I attended the first ever performance of magician Criss Angel at his new residency show–Criss Angel BeLIEve–at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Our tickets were complementary (I was writing a review for AXS Entertainment’s blog which featured such reporting at the time), and our seats were center, on the back row of the front section.

I felt a bit sorry for the magician, because despite his good intentions for a “new” type of theater experience, there were several mishaps in queuing, lighting, music and even props.

Early in the production, Angel, trapped in a white straitjacket and spinning, suddenly disappeared as the theater went totally dark.

Music and sound effects stirred a puzzled and startling response of gasps in the audience. Spotlights suddenly appeared, shining on a point right above our heads.

Criss Angel was dropped out of the ceiling hanging by his bound ankles, struggling to escape the tightly strapped straitjacket. Just as he was a mere six feet over our heads, more overhead house lights were turned on to the delight of everyone while he “escaped” the confines of the jacket.

As everyone applauded, still hanging upside down, Angel was slowly lowered to a blonde lady right next to me. She stood up and he embraced her.

They kissed. We clapped.

As they reeled him back up through the trapped door in the ceiling, I leaned over and said to the woman, “Wow, how did you get so lucky to get that seat? I’m glad it wasn’t me seated there.”

“Oh, it is he that is the lucky one,” she replied.

After he returned back to the stage he took a moment to thank us for attending that night’s performance and being patient with the “mixups” of a new show and early jitters of the crew.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank my girlfriend who you just saw me kiss while I was hanging upside down like Spiderman,” he pointed back to the blonde sitting on my left. “Miss Amber Heard, ladies and gentlemen.”

To this day, I don’t know if Heard was his actual girlfriend, because we thought he was dating Holly Madison at the time. But it’s Vegas. Who knows? What happens there is not the same as in Hollywood!

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Jump to 2022. I happily quit watching television—especially the news—years ago and have not been too much engaged with the entertainment world since.

Having a nice breakfast conversation at the ‘Table of Knowledge’ in one of my favorite Texas Hill Country restaurants one morning, a veteran police officer, the now retired Jim Harvey, mentioned he wanted to get home in time to watch the continuing saga of the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard Trial.

He briefed the diners and morning coffee drinkers about the latest drama of the televised proceedings. It was intriguing, but I elected to wait until after it was basically over to watch some video of the court antics. 

All I knew about Heard was that I sat next to her for 90 minutes at the Criss Angel show while the magician was on record as dating Holly Madison in those days. The only other thing I was familar about Heard was that she was born and raised in “The San Francisco of Texas,” the Keep it Weird city of Austin. This explained, for me at least, some of her antics I witnessed on the video clips of the trial.

Following her loss in court, this was Heard’s official released statement:

Based on what I saw and heard, here are a few things to think about regarding her statement:

🔹The ‘mountain of evidence’ she presented was actually what helped her lose. She very clearly lied about several things and refused to take responsibility for any of the wrong she had done.

🔹This verdict could have set back the clock for women at least as much as the Hollywood starlets who participated in the #MeToo movement one moment, then followed by publically attacking Jeffrey Epstein accusers the next. Heard lying about abuse and trying to profit from it may have implications for years to come. People will find it harder to take someone at their word without thinking back to this trial. Will they wonder if the person is being truthful or making it up to hurt someone that they are mad at?

🔹Her and her attorneys trying to make this out to be a freedom of speech case is pathetic. Nobody took away her rights. The 1st amendment isn’t there for people to use it to lie and try to ruin people with false accusations. That’s why there are laws against that sort of thing.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

‘Lady Lawman’ Movie: The Good, Bad and Ugly

We love and miss Westerns, so we invited friends to watch “Lady Lawman,” a fictitious movie based on the first real female marshal, Francis Miller, of the Indian Territory in the 1890s.

Jake Jecmenek, a friend from high school, was kind enough to give me a DVD of the movie he co-produced and starred in, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

To provide a fair review, I combined the ratings of all six of us, so as not to skew the results. (Dodie has known Jake since at least the 8th grade and we are both fond of him).

SEE LADY LAWMAN PREVIEW HERE

We had popcorn and tasty beverages for our guests to enjoy as we prepared to project the film outdoors like an old fashioned drive-in theater. The DVD cover and packaging is beautiful, but the first hint something might be amiss was when one of them read the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) movie description:

“A women (yes, plural instead of ‘woman’) is offered a job and because the Shieriff (yes, misspelled, rather than ‘Sheriff’) is short handed to a woman (yes, ‘short handed to a woman‘) whom lost her recent husband (instead of an older spouse?) to the same gang of outlaws as the tracker (so the tracker was in a gang of outlaws?).

Brett William Mauser is the executive producer, writer, director, editor and, among other responsibilities, an actor in the movie.

Here is the good, bad and the ugly with our ratings of Lady Lawman:

THE GOOD

The best acting into this 95 minute movie was by Ryan Jasso (Francis Miller) and Jake Jecmenek (Buck Johnson) who played the prime characters.

Other notable actors included Ernest Martinez (ditch the whiskey bottle in every other scene – you’re better than that), Carlos Leos and Kody Nace.

According to our small six-person audience, among the good features of the movie were:

🔹How a momentous pocket watch was weaved into the story.

🔹Dodie and her girlfriends all “liked the beautiful horses.”

🔹Everyone agreed the background music helped the movie.

🔹”My favorite were the gag shots in the Bonus Features” of the DVD, one said. “Especially when it showed someone actually wearing stiched-in red letters– ‘FLASH’–on black jockey underwear, the obvious rage in 1890s fashion I suppose.”

🔹”The acting and horses saved the movie,” Dodie exclaimed.

.

THE BAD

Mauser may be an improved movie maker since his western, Bass Reeves. It was the only movie I reviewed of his, way back in 2010.

In Bass Reeves, a film about the first Black U.S. deputy marshal, there were some good performances by actors James A. House and Craig Rainey, but audience members were distracted by things like 1970s style paneling and plastic light switches on interior walls during the times of the Old West.

In his latest offering, Mauser releases what could have been a more pleasing movie without two primary familiar disturbances:

1. lack of authenticity.

2. long drawn out dialogue that was sometimes difficult to understand.

🔹Practically every actor sported brand new cowboy hats, bejeweled with Route 66 type trading post or Buckee’s style ornaments and headbands. 1890s? No way.

🔹It’s significant enough as major diversions–as are the shiny new saddles on every horse; pristine and more modern day style shirts, jackets and attire–or replicas–on some of them.

Online ratings: 3 out of 5 stars, Amazon and 4.5 out of 10 on IMDb.

.

🔹An asphalt road in front of a seamless metal-roofed house with a concrete sidewalk during the 1890s was way out of the time period. People notice that Brett!

(Asphalt first appeared in North America in the 1870s in Virginia and was used for the centennial of 1876 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. It took years for cars and buggies to be driven on asphalt roads in Oklahoma or Texas.)

He could work his way towards something more exceptional if he would not still be making the same mistakes. You can’t blame it on budget restraints. Used and authentic can cost less! At the very least, change the camera angles to hide these errors.

Everyone in our small focus group agreed and used descriptives like “annoying,” “obvious,” “blaring” and–

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate, especially when the shine from Wal-Mart stainless bowls were laid out on the table.”

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate on the acting because the clothes looked like they came from Sears, K-Mart or Wal-Mart,” a husband and wife team explained as I took their notes.

🔹”This is a cowboy movie,” she said. “One guy looked like a Low Rider who should be driving a jumping ’65 Chevy.”

🔹”And what about so many of them wearing new outfitter clothes, complete with matching bandanas?” another asked. “I’m sorry, this would have been a fairly decent movie for theater release if they would get help with the dialogue writing, costuming and location help.”

🔹”Look, I enjoy westerns and watch the Western Channel all the time,” said a veteran cowboy western fan. “After awhile, I just tried to ignore all this, and tell myself ‘hey, give them a break, it’s independent greenhorn tenderfoot hour,’ and then was able to enjoy it better. It’s not High Noon or The Searchers after all. It’s some good people making a movie with what they’ve got. I’d give them at least a B for effort. For dialogue, not so much.”

🔹”I did the same,” the second man said. “Maybe it’s because we live around and raise horses, livestock, and goats, that I was being hard on them, but a movie shouldn’t have to make me give excuses for it. I did enjoy it alright, but it took some effort.”

Amazon ratings

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🔹”The rain scenes at night on the closeups looked like the drops were coming down superimposed on the screen,” he continued. “I wanted to concentrate on the struggle, but by this late in the movie I was trained to look at mistakes.”

THE UGLY

🔹”It seems like they went overboard with all the shooting and killing,” our first lady friend said. “The pocket watch part was good, but I kept wondering if they even had musical watches that played Fleur-de-lis in the 1800s. It’s not hard to think that way with so many other noticeable such instances.”

“Since it is in Bonus Feature we can laugh and be forgiving, but those red stiched lettering “FLASH” in the black underwear band was bad, but funny as hell,” her husband noted.

REVIEW RATINGS

By Jack Dennis

In a quirky sort of way, after the movie was over, guests had left and with alone time to reflect, I actually enjoyed Lady Lawman in a campy, nonsensical sort of fashion.

It reminded me of the same illogical, but fun emotions I experienced when my neighborhood pals and I would take the bus downtown to the (now defunct) Texas Theater in San Antonio to watch old 1950s Ed Wood horror and sci-fi movies. The props were ludicrous and the actors (an old Bela Lugosi, Doris Fuller, Vampirella and Tor Johnson) were baffling strange–only Lady Lawman had far, far better acting.

Mauser seems to be sticking to his formula, making independent low budget movies the best he can with what resources he has. Personally, I think he’s better than this. If he would accept writing, continuity and professional costuming help, rather than attempt to tackle as much of it as he can by himself, he could churn out some better products. He has some of the talent and much experience around him, but perhaps this is his comfortable niche.

Effort, B+

Acting, B overall.

Acting, Ryan Jasso and Jecmenek, A-

Production, C+

Writing, C+

Music, B+

Authenticity, C

Total Movie: B-

(Low) 1 to 10 (High) Scale, Five Person Composite

Effort = 8.2

Acting = 6.6

Production = 6.9

Music = 8.6

Authenticity = 5.2

Total Movie = 6.7

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The Killing of Alfalfa,’The Little Rascals’ Star

CLEVERJOURNEYS AMERICAN CRIME CHRONICLES SERIES

Carl Switzer, 12, ended his run as a notable Little Rascal when the “Our Gang” short films series ended in 1940.

🔹He continued to appear in movies with various supporting roles, including I Love You Again, Going My Way, Courage of Lassie, and It’s a Wonderful Life and starred in the John Wayne film Island in the Sky where he coined the phrase “Whatever’s customary,” about the only line he spoke throughout the film, but one he repeated several times in it.

🔹Switzer’s last starring roles were in a brief series of imitation-Bowery Boys movies; he reprised his “Alfalfa” characterization, complete with comically sour vocals, in “Gas House Kids” comedies of 1946-1947.

🔹He returned to supporting roles, including a short stint as B-western sidekick “Alfalfa Johnson.”

🔹Switzer preferred not to recall his Our Gang work; in his 1946 resume he referred to the gang films generically as “M-G-M short product.”

🔹Switzer had a fleeting cameo in the 1954 musical film White Christmas where his picture was used to depict an Army buddy (named “Freckle-Faced Haynes”) of lead characters (Wallace and Davis) played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and also the brother of the female leads (the Haynes Sisters) played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. He also did some acting for television.

🔹His final film role was in 1958’s The Defiant Ones and on the television series The Roy Rogers Show, where he was called upon to reprise his off-key “Alfalfa-like” singing. Switzer’s difficult reputation and his typecasting as “Alfalfa” made it difficult for him to find quality work.

Deathday: ALFALFA (Carl Switzer) 1927-1959 RIP

🔹In the early 1950s, Switzer moved to Kansas. He lived and worked on a farm at Pretty Prairie, west of Wichita. There he met and married Diane Collingwood, the heiress of grain elevator empire Collingwood Grain.

The marriage only lasted four months, but did result in the birth of a son whose name was a well-kept secret. In 2002, it was revealed that his son’s name is Lance, per his cousin’s statement on ancestry.com.

🔹In addition to acting, Switzer bred hunting dogs and guided hunting expeditions. Among his more notable clients were Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Switzer’s godparents), and James Stewart.

🔹In January 1958, he survived being shot in the arm while getting into his car. (His assailant was never identified.)

🔹Months later, Switzer was arrested in Sequoia National Forest for cutting down 15 pine trees he sold as Christmas trees. He was sentenced to a year’s probation and ordered to pay a $225 fine.

Deathday: ALFALFA (Carl Switzer) 1927-1959 RIP

TRAGIC DEATH

🔹Prior to a hunting guide job, Switzer had borrowed a hunting dog from Moses “Bud” Stiltz. When the dog was lost, Switzer offered a $50 reward for the dog’s return.

🔹A man found the dog a few days later and brought it to the bar where Switzer was working. Switzer paid the man $35 and bought him $15 worth of drinks from the bar.

🔹Several days later on January 21, 1959, Switzer and his friend Jack Piott decided that Stiltz owed Switzer the $50 paid to the man who found the dog.

🔹The pair allegedly arrived drunk at Stiltz’s home in Mission Hills to collect the money Stiltz “owed” him.

🔹Switzer knocked on Stiltz’s front door, demanding, “Let me in, or I’ll kick in the door.” Once Switzer was inside the home, he and Stiltz got into an argument. Switzer informed Stiltz that he wanted the money owed him, saying “I want that 50 bucks you owe me now, and I mean now.”

🔹When Stiltz refused to hand over the money, the two engaged in a physical fight. Piott allegedly struck Stiltz in the head with a glass-domed clock, which caused him to bleed from his left eye.

🔹Stiltz retreated to his bedroom and returned holding a .38-caliber revolver, but Switzer immediately grabbed the gun away from him, resulting in a shot being fired that hit the ceiling.

🔹Switzer then forced Stiltz into a closet, despite Stiltz having gotten his hands back on the gun. Switzer then allegedly pulled a switchblade knife and screamed, “I’m going to kill you” and was attempting to stab him with it, but just as Switzer was about to charge him, Stiltz raised the gun and shot Switzer in the groin. Switzer died of massive internal bleeding and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

CONTROVERSY

🔹Jack Piott’s version of events was different, telling investigators that he and Switzer went to collect a debt from Stiltz, when an argument broke out. Piott said a brief struggle ensued and Stiltz brandished a gun and shot Switzer, who was unarmed at the time, in the groin.

🔹According to police reports, only by begging was Piott able to save his own life.

🔹The killing was held to be a justifiable homicide. Switzer had allegedly pulled a knife; therefore, the shooting was judged to be self-defense.

🔹During the inquest regarding Switzer’s death, it was revealed that what was originally reported as a “hunting knife” was in fact merely a penknife. It had been found by crime scene investigators under his body, but with no blade exposed.

WITNESS COMES FORWARD

🔹On January 25, 2001, a third witness came forward and gave his version of the events of January 21, 1959. The witness, 56-year-old Tom Corrigan, son of Western movie star Ray “Crash” Corrigan and stepson of Moses Stiltz, was present the night Switzer was killed.

🔹”It was more like murder,” Corrigan told reporters. He said he heard the knock on the front door and heard Switzer say “Western Union for Bud Stiltz.” Corrigan’s mother, Rita Corrigan, opened the door to find a drunk and demanding Switzer complaining about a perceived, months-old debt.

🔹Switzer entered the house followed by Jack Piott and stated that he was going to beat Stiltz. Stiltz greeted Switzer with a .38-caliber revolver in his hand. Tom Corrigan claimed to witness Switzer grab the revolver and the two began struggling to gain control over it. Piott broke a glass-domed clock over Stiltz’s head whose eye swelled shut.

🔹During the struggle the gun fired into the ceiling and Tom Corrigan was struck in the leg by a piece of shrapnel. After the initial shot, his two younger sisters ran to a neighbor’s house to call for help.

🔹”Well, we shot Tommy, enough of this,” he remembers Switzer saying before Switzer and Piott started to retreat. Corrigan had just stepped out the front door when he heard a second shot go off behind him. He did not see his stepfather shoot Switzer, but when he turned around he saw Switzer sliding down the wall with a surprised look on his face — shot in the groin.

🔹Corrigan said he spotted a closed penknife at Switzer’s side which he presumed fell out of his pocket or his hand.

🔹He then witnessed his stepfather back Piott into the kitchen counter and threaten to kill him, but as the man begged for his life, they heard emergency sirens which is why Corrigan believed Stiltz didn’t shoot him again.

🔹Corrigan recalled that his stepfather, Bud Stiltz, lied in his account of the event to the authorities.

🔹Following the shooting, Corrigan claims a now-deceased Los Angeles Police Department detective, Pat Pow, interviewed him and asked him if he would testify before a judge. Corrigan claims to have agreed, although for unknown reasons he was never called before the coroner’s jury. “He didn’t have to kill him,” Corrigan said.

Deathday: ALFALFA (Carl Switzer) 1927-1959 RIP

Carl Switzer is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. His death went virtually unnoticed in the media, as Switzer died on the same day as the famous movie director, Cecil B. DeMille. Switzer received only minor footnotes in most newspapers, while DeMille’s obituary dominated the columns.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Interviewing Gentle Ben’s Owner and Ron Howard’s Brother

Or How to Tick Off My Teacher Without Really Trying…

Or Finding My Porpoise in Life

“This time find a book with porpoise, Jackie,” Ms. Nancy Lewis instructed me in 1965.

Purpose?

The previous time I checked out a book from the Harlandale School District Book Mobile, it was a brand new novel by Walt Morey entitled Gentle Ben.

Ben was a big brown bear in Alaska who befriended a boy named Mark. I imagined the boy looked similar to my fifth grade classmate, Mark Kuykendall, because he was somewhat adventurous.

Well, I supposed Ms. Lewis was upset about my book choices because she obviously didn’t think my Gentle Ben skit—performed in front of her fifth grade class in lieu of a book report— was as brilliant as the class did.

“GET MY PADDLE”

The week before, I had seen Ms. Lewis use her “discipline paddle” on Kenneth Andrews. Ken was upset because the recess bell rang– meaning we were to get back to class. It went off just as he had stepped up to bat during an exciting softball game.

I was playing second base when pitcher David Cardenas took the ball and walked back towards the second wing of Gillette Elementary School in south San Antonio that day.

The words that red-headed Kenneth screamed in anger, for not having the ball pitched to him, was dialect unfitting to a 5th grader, Ms. Lewis determined.

“Jackie, go get my paddle,” she directed me.

Why me? Kenneth is my friend. I don’t want to see his butt blistered by her spanking paddle.

I ran to our classroom and obediently brought out the paddle.

“What porpoise does that serve to cuss like that?” she asked Kenneth before the WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

His buttocks were seared. All I knew was I wanted to make certain I had a good porpoise for anything I did around Ms. Lewis.

The next time the Book Mobile came to our school I made sure my book had porpoises in it.

I wasn’t certain what she had against bears, but as long as I never was on the receiving end of the teacher’s paddle, I would learn as much about porpoises as required.

CLINT HOWARD

A couple of years later, Gentle Ben became a TV series and the boy in that show didn’t look anything like the adventurous Mark Kuykendall at all.

The actor was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard, “Opie Taylor” of Mayberry and Andy Griffith fame at the time.

It was an okay show, but as long as Ms. Lewis wasn’t my teacher anymore it was all right by me.

Fast forward forty years later. It’s 2006, and I finally know the difference between Ms. Lewis’ pronunciation “porpoise” and the word “purpose.” That year I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever), comedian Bill Dana (Jose Jiminez), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) and more.

It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with the one and only Clint Howard. Although known to Baby Boomers for his role in Gentle Ben, he was at the Space conference for his part in the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13.

The real life Apollo Mission control commander, Gene Krantz was nearby and in passing, called out to Howard: “Afternoon Sy!”

Clint Howard grinned and explained his role in Apollo 13 was the part of Sy Liebergot, a key member of the Mission Control crew under Krantz.

Howard loved the role acting with Ed Harris who played Krantz:

Sy LiebergotFlight… I recommend we shut down reactant valves to the fuel cells.

Gene Kranz: What the hell good is that gonna do?

Sy Liebergot: If that’s where the leak is, we can isolate it. We can save what’s left in the tanks and we can run on the good cell.

Gene Kranz: You close ’em, you can’t open ’em again! You can’t land on the moon with one healthy fuel cell!

Sy Liebergot: Gene, the Odyssey is “dying”. From my chair here, this is the last option.

INTERVIEW

Howard was kind enough to place his signature on a photo alongside his brother Ron Howard’s autograph and was willing to be interviewed for a few quick questions. Ready go:

Biggest influence?

My dad, Rance Howard is definitely my biggest influence. He has taught both Ron and I attributes of being a good man of the earth type solid human beings. We’ve learned to apply this to our work, the entertainment business.

The work can be hard enough in the morning but it is especially grueling by the end of a very long day on the  set. Through Dad, we learned to remain focused because all time counts.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this often, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, how was it working with Gentle Ben?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really heard of that question before (He winked and grinned).

Gentle Ben was really Bruno the Bear and he actually was a gentle bear. I remember he smelled bad and enjoyed drinking Coca-Cola and eating candy, especially lemon drops and sometimes Tootsie Roll.

I was already accustomed to acting and wasn’t starstruck at that age, but co-starring with a bear was cool. My dad was always on set with me down on a ranch in the Everglades, so I was away from my mom for a bit. When we would come back for Christmas break, our house was decorated to the max for the holidays. Good memories.

I would describe you as a character actor, with a diverse set of many different roles. How do you describe your acting persona?

That’s right on. You know, my great brother Ron, five years my senior, basically played all similar roles. There is Opie (Mayberry), Ritchie (Happy Days), Chad (The Smith Family) and the character, Steve from American Graffiti, basically.

We both started very young. By the time Gentle Ben was around, I had years of experience. I’m in my fifth decade of acting and now find myself in the position in my career as a character actor with a lot of experience.

When I walk on set and I think people look towards me, somewhat for some of a bit of guidance and mentoring. Now, I don’t stick my nose somewhere where it doesn’t belong. I’m there to act, my job. Thats my thing. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes and automatically mentor. It is not my responsibility. But I realize now that some people do look up to me, and respect my experience. So I keep that in mind when I work on any project. I will be a leader and positive influencer for the director, crew, the actors if and as needed.

Like I said, I grew up with wonderful parents. My Dad mentored and I remain grateful.

Note: At the time of this interview Rance Howard was alive. He passed away on November 25, 2017. Clint’s mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard, died on September 2, 2000.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Was Natalie Wood Murdered?

“…intentional accident,” said her sister Lana.

When Hollywood legend Natalie Wood starred in the 1983 movie Brainstorm,  there was no way of knowing it would be her last.

NOTORIOUS AMERICAN CRIME CHRONICLES is a CleverJourneys ongoing series exploring American history from a perspective that burrows deep into criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and our justice system.

The science-fiction movie, co-starring Christopher Walken,  explored the intriguing and dangerous possibilities that came with intruding into someone else’s mind. 

Natalie died before the film was finished. Despite resistance from studio executives, the director, Douglas Trumbull, creatively found a way to complete Brainstorm

Walken and Wood in BRAINSTORM

Trumball used Natalie’s younger sister, Lana Wood, for some “long shots and shaded profiles” to successfully complete the movie. Brainstorm was a hit and went on to receive a total of six award nominations.

Natalie started out successfully as a child actor and by the 1960s she was featured in Hollywood classics such as West Side StoryGypsy, and Sex and the Single Girl.

She put her acting career on hiatus in the 1970s and had a child with Robert Wagner, whom she had previously married and divorced.

🔹While on a yachting excursion with Wagner and Brainstorm co-star Walken off Santa Catalina Island on November 29, 1981, Wood’s body was mysteriously found floating about a mile away from the yacht.

🔹An autopsy revealed that she had bruises and abrasions on her body, as well as a cocktail of pain medications and alcohol in her system.

🔹Her death was ruled to be an accidental drowning and hypothermia.

🔹To this day, no one is certain how Natalie got in the water in the first place, although then-Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi suggested that she may have slipped and fell given the alcohol in her system.

🔹Wagner claimed that there was no foul play on his part, although he admitted later that the two had a big argument right before Wood disappeared.

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian), Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). However, I was especially excited to spend some time with Lana Wood.

Lana followed her sister into the movie business and as a child starred in The Searchers with John Wayne. She had a recurring role in the TV hit Peyton Place in the 1960s. My favorite role of hers was as Plenty O’Toole in the 1971 James Bond spy movie, Diamonds Are Forever with Sean Connery.

I gave her my business card and we chatted for a good while. She was very open and candid during the interview, especially when asked about the death of her sister.

My autograph from Lana Wood

“First, Natalie was absolutely terrified of the water and swimming, so I never bought into the idea she went out at 10 o’clock at night in a dingy,” she said.  Additionally, Wood’s sister asserted that Wood was terrified of water and under no circumstances would have gone in on her own accord.

“The things they (Wagner and Walken) were saying that Natalie did that night were just not credible,” Lana was certain. “Searchers found her in her nightgown about a mile away. That totally goes against her personality, her character.”

“I knew her all of our life and she was always concerned about how she looked and where she was going,” Lana continued. “Our mother, was an aggressive stage mom, especially with Natalie. It was drilled in her head to be dressed right, day or night, here or there.”

“Do you think her death was an accident?” I asked point blank.

“No, if it was an accident, it was intentional because of their fight on the yacht,” she responded. “I believe her death was intentional and the man who killed my sister was not Christopher Walken. It has been over 20 years now and it continues to haunt me.”

🔹In 1983, the coroner officially ruled Natalie Wood’s death as an accident.

🔹Her death certificate reads, a “probable drowning in the ocean.”

🔹In 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the investigation into the mysterious death.

Since the night of her death, more information has come to light:

🔹The yacht captain and Christopher Walken both heard Wood and Wagner fighting that night, per Vanity Fair.

🔹Questions about why no one called for emergency assistance when Wagner discovered his wife missing have never been answered. It wasn’t until a few hours later when the incident was reported.

🔹Over time, new witnesses, including people who were in their own boats at that time, came forward indicating they heard arguing and a woman shouting for help on that night.

🔹Natalie’s death certificate was amended in 2012 to change the cause of her death from “Drowning” to “Drowning and other undetermined factors”.

Finally, during the last week of May 2022, the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. announced they cleared Robert Wagner, 92, in its investigation into the death of Natalie Wood.

“All leads have been exhausted and the case remains open,” they said. “If additional leads surface which have not already been investigated, the case will be reassigned for investigation.”

WOOD’S AUTOPSY

🔹When Natalie Wood’s death investigation was reopened, her cause of death was changed to “undetermined.”

🔹Her body was found dressed in a plaid, flannel nightgown, argyle socks, and a red down jacket.

🔹Wood’s blood alcohol content was 0.14%, which was higher than the legal driving limit.

🔹Pain and motion sickness medications were found in her bloodstream.

🔹Bruises were found on several parts of her body, such as the ankles, knees, and wrists.

🔹In the 1981 report, the bruises were attributed to hitting her body on the side of the yacht, as she struggled to get back up after falling over.

🔹However, the new coroner’s report, after the reinvestigation, states that the bruises occurred before Wood even fell into the water.

“The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water.”

🔹The yacht’s captain, Dennis Davern, revealed in an interview that he lied during his police interrogation. When asked whether he thought Wagner was responsible, he answered, “Yes, I would say so. Yes.”

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‘2000 Mules” Continues to Destroy Corporate News Lies of 2020 Election

Majority of Voters Surveyed Say There Was Election Fraud in 2020 After Seeing ‘2000 Mules’ Evidence

Dinesh D’Souza’s “2000 Mules” has earned over $1.7 million within three weeks of release.

This is especially phenomenal:

🔹Most documentaries earn far less than a $1/2 million total.

🔹This accomplishment is despite the false narratives of news and Big Tech medias unanimously against the film.

🔹These box office receipts are remarkable in a theater marketplace suffering from over two years of pandemic restrictions.

🔹The documentary continues on in over 450 select theaters which undercuts its box office potential.

🔹Select theaters viewing is common for documentary releases, which rarely receive the screen count numbers that your average movie receives with over 4,000 movie houses.

This is the least amount of stolen votes and doesn’t include Dominion voting machines manipulation, ballots illegally tossed by USPS, duplicate ballot printing, etc.

🔹The film made a brief theatrical run before debuting on VOD-like services (Rumble and Locals.com) last month. That multi-pronged release strategy collected $10 million as of May 12, according to Salem Media Group.

🔹2000 Mules, available on DVD for less than a week, now finds itself as the Amazon.com number one release in the “Movies and TV” category.

D’Souza’s “2000 Mules” proves some of the most corrupt influences– measured by geotracking technology and actual videos of illegal ballot harvesting—helped steal the 2020 election.

A survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on June 1-2, 2022 by Rasmussen Reports regarding 2000 Mules. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

The “national telephone and online survey finds that 77% of those Likely U.S. voters who have seen ‘2000 Mules’ say the movie strengthened their conviction that there was systematic and widespread election fraud in the 2020 election,” Rasmussen said. “Only 19% of those who have seen the documentary say their belief in election fraud was weakened.

The survey asked, “Did the film strengthen or weaken your conviction that there was systematic and widespread election fraud in the 2020 election?”

The poll found that the majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans said it strengthened their conviction:

🔹85% of Republicans

🔹77% of Independents

🔹68% of Democrats

Among voters who have seen the documentary, 78% say they would recommend “2000 Mules” to others regardless of whether or not they share their political beliefs. That includes:

🔹84% of Republicans

🔹73% of Democrats

🔹74% of unaffiliated voters who have seen the film.

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America Celebrates a Century of ‘Our Gang’ Comedy Classics

Who Can Name These Little Rascals?

It All Began in 1922 by Film Producer Hal Roach

.

The first long term contract ever given to a Black actor in Hollywood was written for Fred Morrison.

Frederic Ernest “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, born in New Orleans started out in films called the Baby Marie Osbourne series. He earned his “Sunshine Sammy” nickname for his big smile and easygoing personality. 

Producer Hal Roach had originally planned on giving him his own series, but “The Sunshine Sammy Series” failed after a few attempts. Hal and his wife brainstormed the idea of expanding it, not on just one character, but to a band of “Rascals.”

Mrs. Roach, very impressed with Morrison, suggested that her husband should get the 7-year-old under their studio contract. With the addition of more children, the “Our Gang” series was born.  Sunshine Sammy Morrison ended up working in the aerospace industry and died of cancer when he was 76.

When Roach first started making the shorts way back in 1921, the “Our Gang” the short films were shown in theaters prior to the main picture. When they eventually made the jump to television, the series became “The Little Rascals.”

After the 23 years of “The Little Rascals” run came to an end, 220 films had been made. Reruns ensured generations of fans would continue to enjoy the series.

PETEY THE CIRCLE EYED DOG

Who remembers Petey, the adorable dog with the black circle under his eye?

He was portrayed by a pit bull named Pal who had the naturally-occurring marking—accented with makeup to complete the ring.

Pal was introduced into the series as just a 6-month-old pup. He became a massive star and the beloved family pet of trainer Harry Lucenay. Tragically, in 1930, Pal passed away after being poisoned.

“The Little Rascals” was still going strong, and the gang needed their Petey. Pal’s own son, Peter, stepped in as the new “Perry.” Makeup artists drew the distinctive circle around Peter’s opposite eye, in tribute to his much-loved father.

ALFALFA

Carl Switzer spent five years portraying the very popular role of “Alfalfa” in 75 films. When he became to old for the part, his intention in 1940 was to continue his career in show business. Often uncredited, Switzer appeared in small parts in nearly sixty films, including My Favorite Blonde (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Going My Way (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), State of the Union (1948), Pat and Mike (1952). Switzer even played a slave in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956).

In early 1959, Switzer was breeding and training hunting dogs. He was hired to train the hunting dog of a man named Moses Stiltz. While training the dog, it took off. Desperate, Switzer offered a reward.

The dog was returned, Switzer ended up paying up, then decided to go to Stiltz to try to get his reward money back. The two men got into a fight, and Switzer was shot in the groin. He died when he arrived at the hospital.

JACKIE COOPER, A TOUGH RASCAL

Jackie Cooper passed away in 2011 and the world mourned the loss of the Superman film’s Perry White. Older fans knew Cooper had been one of “The Little Rascals.” 

Director Norman Taurog, told the young actor that he would shoot his dog if he didn’t cry on command during the filming for a 1931 film.

In “Our Gang,” Cooper was called “the little tough guy,” and unlike many of the kids who came and went through the “Rascals” roster, Cooper stayed in show business. (Which wasn’t entirely surprising, as his father was a studio production manager, and his uncle was the director that threatened to shoot his dog. He’s pictured signing his contract with MGM.)

OTHER NOTABLE RASCALS

🔹Norman “Chubby” Chaney died of a heart condition when he was 21.

🔹Billy “Froggy” Laughlin was riding a scooter when he was hit by a car and killed.

🔹Alfalfa’s brother, Harold “Slim” Switzer, took his own life at the age of 42. 

CAN YOU RECALL THESE RASCALS?

Then & Now, Cast of 1994 Movie

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Ratings by Movie Goers for ‘2000 Mules’ is A+

Forget the liberal media with their “alleging ” “no proof” and “Big Lie” propaganda. They are about as much to blame for the stolen 2020 Election as the “Mules” in Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2000 Mules.

Cinemark, the major American movie theater chain based out of Plano, Texas, started experiencing sell outs of advance tickets for regular showings  that began across the nation Friday.

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D’Souza’s compelling documentary made film history by earning over $10 million in five days in a test start at a limited number of theaters and through streaming.

This achievement has never even been heard of for a documentary showing in thousands of theaters across the country. In contrast, 2,000 Mules was only shown for two nights in a limited number of venues before its May 7 digital premiere.

After the early evening showings on Friday, coupled with the viewings two weeks ago, the verdict is out and the audiences have spoken:

THE AVERAGE RATING FOR 2000 MULES IS 98%–AN A+.

Even Rotten Tomatoes audiences give it a 99%!

Here are some actual comments from viewers:

Lyudmila-Shocked by the movie 2000 mules! This film opened my eyes to the cause of the horror that is happening to our country today.
All these fake winners – Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer are criminals destroying America. Something must be done about this and immediately. America must rise and shake off all this scum and start to recover before it’s too late.

Very thorough dig into the 2020 election. The question is – what will be done about this!!!!!

Very informative presenting facts, data, and videos. Focus on 2020 election, but also included mistakes, lack of concern and even cheating by Republicans. I liked how Dinesh presented the information and let viewers form their own based on the facts he collected.

Tom V- This documentary delivers to goods. Highlky recommended, you will not be disappointed.

Kolbo-An excellent documentary with undeniable proof of voters fraud. Very professional.

Patricia-If you care about the integrity of our elections this is a must see.

Norma-Anyone who doesn’t see this has no right to make a judgement about the movie or the election fraud one way or another. See it. Then draw your own conclusion. Don’t let CNN or the San Antonio Express-News tell you how to think. They lie anyway. Just go see it! One of my cousins started crying and felt cheated by the news media people.

David-D’Souza Media and True the Vote documentary conclusions are well supported. The 2020 National Election and the 2021 Georgia Election were stolen. Dinesh & Debbie D’Souza are Rock Stars!

Dr. A-This is impressive “single box that was only visited by 271 people contained 1900 ballots”…They were throwing the gloves away, and if DNA of the Mule was on it, collecting and analyzing the DNA could possibly result in their conviction. The mules should have taken the gloves with them for disposal…I saw the movie, my wife and I, well worth the time. The people that analyzed the Mules also used Cellphone Data to help solve the murder of a little girl, struck by a bullet in a shooting. Only 1 of 2 people were positioned to fire the shots, and they have since been arrested.

Deborah M-Truth bomb about the election fraud. Dinesh is a champion of conservative values. A real patriot. A must see for everyone.

Phil S-My wife and I watched it and it is stunning that our so called representatives and law enforcement have done nothing but avoid the obvious. The mid-terms will be a disaster.

Richard-Loved it. Really proves the 2020 election WAS STOLEN!!!

Dawn P-I believe the Democrats coordinated a massive voter fraud scheme, as Biden alluded to himself, but getting the GOP to do anything or anybody with any authority to do anything, is another hurdle. Right now, the Democrats are using the U.S. Supreme Court as a scapegoat to get people worked up and to justify cheating in the 2022 midterms. All they have to do is convince gullible people that they are doing what’s morally right by cheating.

OldeyDude-The beginning of the real story of the 2020 presidential election.

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Cinemark Theaters to Show ‘2000 Mules’ Across the US Beginning Friday

AMC Theaters Owned by China

Cinemark, the major American movie theater chain based out of Plano, Texas, just proved it’s patriotism. It’s showing 2000 Mules across the nation beginning Friday.

Click For Times & Locations

Against the odds of:

🔹dishonest reporting by powerful fake news,

🔹the deliberate blackout by cable/TV corporate media,

🔹the silence of spineless GOP politicians,

🔹predictable Hollywood absurdity,

🔹propaganda drivel churned out by crooked Democrats,

Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2000 Mules made film history by earning over $10 million in five days.

This achievement has never been heard of for a documentary showing in thousands of theaters across the country. In contrast, 2,000 Mules was only shown for two nights in a limited number of venues before its May 7 digital premiere.

Most Americans have no clue that when they walk into a movie theater, the likelihood it’s owned by Chinese companies controlled by Beijing is high.

AMC theaters may stand for American Multi-Cinema, but they are owned by China. Billed as “an American company based in Kansas,” the propaganda is familiar as with other Chinese controlled companies. In actuality, the Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate, are the controlling owners of over 11,000 American movie screens.

Make no doubt about it, China controls much of Hollywood and influences what we are allowed to see–in the manner they want it.

In July 2020, the Trump Administration began warning American entities and businesses against investing in Chinese companies and said that additional sanctions could be on the way in return for China’s role in spreading the coronavirus.

Nancy Pelosi’s Congress has not moved an inch on the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act passed unanimously by the Senate in May 2020.

Pelosi.

The bipartisan act would force China, and other foreign companies to adhere to U.S. securities law. The Trump White House has been taking an aggressive stance undoing some of the damage caused from previous administrations.

The limited showing in early May was such an achievement, it prompted AMC to begin showing the film across the country beginning Friday, May 20th.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.