BRONX, NY – I had a few ideas kicking around for today’s post but none of them seemed hefty enough to carry an entire column. Instead we’ll just go with a mixed bag. Let’s get right to it.
Shirley, You Can’t be Serious. Sad news yesterday that my first boyhood crush, Shirley Temple, boarded the Good Ship Lollipop for that sunny beach on Peppermint Bay in the sky. Back in 1970, when I wasn’t yet so angry, I was absolutely smitten with that little girl with all the blonde curls. She could sing and dance and she was cute. What wasn’t to like? My Dad didn’t have the heart to tell me that she was then a tad older (42!) than I imagined. Anyway, among her other accomplishments, she won an honorary Oscar at age 6, was ambassador to Junoir Blaber’s Ghana, and had a drink named after her. Non-alcoholic, yes, but still impressive. Anyway, happy trails, Shirley Temple.
Going for the Gold and Silver Screen. The Winter Olympics are presently happening. Who knew, right? Anyway, the other day, for no apparent reason, I started thinking about Olympic athletes who went on to pursue movie careers. For the most part these acting ambitions didn’t pan out, with a couple of exceptions. Though in many cases the failures were far more spectacular than you could even imagine. For starters, Johnny Weismuller won 5 swimming gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics and then went on to play Tarzan in the movies. Later in life he ended up as a greeter at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas with one Joe Louis. Jeez. Buster Crabbe won one Olympic swimming gold in the 1932 games and followed in Weissmuller’s loin-cloth-wearing, vine-swinging footsteps as a movie Tarzan. Crabbe gets extra credit for also playing Flash Gordon (my Dad used to take me to see the old cliffhanging serials at Town Hall back in the 70s) and Buck Rodgers.
Harold Sakata, a Japanese-American weightlifter, struck silver at the 1948 London Games but later found gold aplenty playing Oddjob in the 1964 James Bond flick Goldfinger. Pretty cool. On the flip side of the coin, American gymnast Kurt Thomas was favored to win the gold at the 1980 summer games in the former Soviet Union, but the U.S. boycotted those games. Thomas took out his revenge the only way he knew how, by starring in Gymkata. If you like your Kung Fu with a little gymnastics thrown in, this one’s for you. In 1984 another American gymnast won a gold, a silver, and two bronze medals. That man’s name was Mitch Gaylord. You just try to stop a guy named Mitch Gaylord from making a movie. And make a movie he did. That movie was American Anthem, and it was about a gymnast training for the Olympics; so he really got to stretch those acting muscles, along with his quads. Oh, and let’s not forget Mary Lou Retton playing Tiny Tim in Scrooged! But when it comes to Olympians making movies, the gold standard is still Bruce Jenner. It took balls (for sure, it was a prerequisite) to make Can’t Stop the Music with The Village People, Valerie Perrine, and Steve Guttenberg. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Let’s just say that this movie would make Vladimir Putin’s head explode. Finally, my choice for breakout film star from this year’s games? Canadian Figure Skater Kevin Reynolds, who could easily star in a Clay Aiken biopic or live-action Pinocchio right now.
Masahiro Worship. Loved the story in Tuesday’s Post about new Yankees Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka renting out an entire Boeing 787 so that his toy poodle, Haru, could fly with him from Japan to New York. Usually I would roll my eyes at such “Yankee-like” behavior, but I gotta say, I smell genius. I’m serious. I know the Yankees haven’t had a great deal of luck with their Asian Imports but I think this guy is gonna win the Cy Young this year. If he brings his poodle with him to games, that will cement it, he will dominate in 2014.
OK, that’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for more Meet The Matts Radio.