Frank Bank, aka Lumpy on Leave It to Beaver, has died

Frank Bank, who played Lumpy Rutherford in the popular 1950s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver, died yesterday.

In a role that today probably would not be played for laughs, Lumpy was a large overweight friend of Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow), Beaver's aka The Beav's (Jerry Mathers) older brother. Even then television made the connection between being bullied at home (Lumpy's father often berated him -- ("big oaf " and "big boob" were two favorite insults of Mr. R.'s)) and passing it on to the outside world (Lumpy often targeted The Beav).

In real life, Bank was a very successful California municipal bonds broker who was known for his generosity. He and another Beaver actor, Ken Osmond who forever immortalized the slimy suck-up to grown-ups, Eddie Haskell, raised lots of money for veterans' charities.

Mr. Banks died just one day after his 71st birthday.

Jonathan Winters, genius improv comedian, has died

Jonathan Winters, he of the malleable face and rapid fire ad lib wit, died Thursday, April 11, in Montecito, California.

Winters, a veteran of World War II (Marine Corps), first developed his unique comedic style as a teenager, talking to himself. Later, as a morning DJ for WING (Dayton, OH), Winters had trouble rounding up guests so he just invented his own, and became an instant hit. Winters honed a wide, and wild, range of characters. Among his more memorable creations was Maude Frickert, a sweet-natured, sharp-tongued granny with a healthy libido. Johnny Carson, who invited Winters back over and over again as a guest on the Tonight Show, ended up stealing Maude and morphing her into his Aunt Blabby.

Robin Williams, whose explosively funny style is often compared to Winters' spontaneously combustive hilarity, credits Winters with inspiring his own funny riffs -- "Jonathan taught me that the world is open for play, that everything and everybody is mockable, in a wonderful way." (interview with the late Ed Bradley on CBS's 60 Minutes). In fact, in Season 4 of Mork and Mindy (Williams plays an alien from outer space with a human roommate, Pam Dawber, whom he later marries ), Winters plays their son, Mearth.

Winters also gave particularly memorable performances in two of the movies in which he had roles -- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). He also found time to pen Winters' Tales, Stories, and Observations for the Unusual in 1987.

Winters, who was quite candid about his struggles with, and hospitalization for manic depression, died of natural causes at age 87.

Former Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, has died

Annette Funicello, who, as a child, turned to acting to help deal with her shyness, died this moning in California.

In 1955 at a dance recital in Burbank, CA, where she was the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, she was discovered by Walt Disney who immediately added her to his stable of child actors for his new TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club.

Her popularity with children sent her acting career in many directions. She had a role in the second and third seasons of The Spin and Marty Show and in the short-lived Walt Disney Presents: Annette, which lasted just long enough for her performance of the song How Will I Know My Love? to be released as a single.

When she got older, she appeared in several Disney movies, including The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Babes in Toyland (1961). From there, she and Frankie Avalon became the darlings of the Beach Party movie scene.

In 1992, Ms. Funicello went public with the fact that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, only after rumors persisted that her unsteady gait was due to a drinking problem. She was named a Disney Legend that same year. A few months later she opened her Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders.

Ms. Funicello was 70 years old.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

If you haven't seen My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic yet, stop everything you're doing and put a request on The Friendship Express or Princess Twilight Sparkle now!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is an animated TV series developed by Lauren Faust and based on the long-running Hasbro My Little Pony toy franchise. But don't let its overtly commercial roots fool you - MLP:FiM is a whip smart show for both kids and adults, hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, with an excellent sense of comedic timing and a commendable moral compass. Bright, engaging visuals and upbeat musical sidebars will have you hooked on this charming show in no time.

The Friendship Express is a collection of five non-contiguous episodes from season 1 and 2 of the show, while Princess Twilight Sparkle is a collection of five non-contiguous episodes from seasons 2 and 3. Episodes of the show air at 10:30 AM EST on The Hub, and Netflix currently streams seasons 1-3.

New TV shows on DVD @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new DVDs on their way to AADL:

The Love Boat, Season 1: Volume 1 & Volume 2
See you on the Pacific Princess, where romance blossoms on the way to tropical and exotic ports of call with Captain Stubing, Doc, Gopher, and Isaac the bartender. (The show ran from 1977-1986.)

The Patty Duke Show, Seasons 1 & 2
They laugh alike, they walk alike, sometimes they even talk alike, what a crazy pair! Cousins Patty and Cathy are identical in appearance but not in personality, and they find themselves in wacky situations. (The show ran from1963-1966.)

Hawaii Five-O, Seasons 1 & 2
Book ‘em, Danno! Follow Detective Steve McGarrett, Danno, and the rest of the Five-O squad. McGarrett heads an elite state police unit investigating organized crime, murder, assassination attempts, foreign agents, and felonies of every type. (The show ran from 1968-1980.)

The Killing, Season 1
Following a shocking murder, the lives of the police, suspects and victim's family are intricately woven together in this spellbinding series. Fans of Twin Peaks or The X-Files might dig it. It’s an American drama based on a Danish TV show. (Season 3 is in production now.)

Roger Ebert, beloved Chicago movie critic, has died

Just one day after announcing he was taking a 'leave of presence' from his 46-year gig as movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and his 31-year career on TV reviewing films, Roger Ebert lost his long public battle with salivary and thyroid cancer.

His announcement yesterday said he would just review the movies HE wanted to see and leave the rest of the reviews to his trusted colleagues at the paper. When he lost part of his jaw and thus his ability to eat or speak, he used his good humor and courage to write about his experience fighting, and often triumphing, against, his devastating illness.

Ebert's long career resulted in a 1975 Pulitzer Prize, the first movie critic to receive this honor. The Webby Awards named him their 2010 Person of the Year. And Hollywood, which lived and died by Ebert's laser-beam ethical demand for excellence in all things film, honored him with his own Walk of Fame star in 2005.

Ebert's career took off in a new direction when he and Chicago Tribune movie critic, Gene Siskel, took their 'point/counterpoint' routine to television in 1975. Originally titled Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, PBS picked it up and renamed it Sneak Previews three years later. There were two more name-changes: In 1981, it morphed into At the Movies. Five years later, accompanied by their signature 'thumbs up, thumbs down' rating system, it settled on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies.

Sadly, Siskel died in 1999. He had had brain surgery for brain cancer but it was complications from another surgery that ended his life.

Despite his long fight with illness, Ebert wrote almost seventeen books on movies, the internet, his life (Life Itself: A Memoir, 2011), and yes, even a cookbook for rice cookers (The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker, 2010).

Ebert, who was 70, died today in Chicago.

Irish character actor, Milo O'Shea, has died

Milo O'Shea, an Irish character actor known for his bushy eyebrows and lovely brogue, has died.

Best known in this country for his roles in the campy science fiction film, Barbarella (1968), starring Jane Fonda and the 1982 courtroom thriller, The Verdict, starring Paul Newman, he also enjoyed considerable success in TV. His large body of work included appearances in The Golden Girl, Cheers, Frasier, and in the fifth season of The West Wing, as Chief Justice Roy Ashland.

He also did some stage work, notably performing in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.

Mr. O'Shea, who was 86, died yesterday in Manhattan.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #387

When Kirkus Reviews called a novel "an outstanding debut", you take notice.

Truth in Advertising* * * by John Kenney is "wickedly funny, honest, at times sardonic, and ultimately moving story about the absurdity of corporate life, the complications of love, and the meaning of family".

Christmas is just around the corner. Madison Avenue ad-man Finbar Dolan is forced to cancel a much anticipated vacation in order to write/produce a commercial for his diaper account in time for the Super Bowl. Closing in on 40 and having recently called off a wedding, he is a bit of a mess and doesn't quite know it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately as it turns out...) things get worse. His long-estranged and once-abusive father is dying and reluctantly, Fin returns to his Boston root and comes face to face with a traumatized childhood he tries hard to forget.

"With wry wit, excellent pacing, and pitch-perfect, often hilarious dialog, New Yorker humorist and former advertising copywrite Kenney (website) has created something remarkable: a surprisingly funny novel about an adult American male finally becoming a man.

"(A) comic tour de force; for fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper" and those who enjoyed the Mad Men series.

* * *= starred reviews

Dexter's Laboratory

Created in the 90's for Cartoon Network, Dexter's Laboratory is a children's cartoon series about the eponymous Dexter, a boy genius with a secret laboratory from which he conducts elaborate experiments, schemes to defeat his nemesis Mandark, and puts up with annoyingly perky sister Dee Dee. The series is funny and clever, with plenty gross-out jokes for children to enjoy and high-brow references that'll have parents laughing, too.

The first season is now available on DVD from the library. Check it out!

The Big Game Weekend: Puppy Bowl IX

Are you ready to rrrrrrrumble?!

This Sunday at 3pm Eastern, tune into the cutest "football" game of the season: Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl IX! The Puppy Bowl is a televised program where adorable pups from rescue groups and shelters romp and play inside a model stadium, complete with commentary and a Kitty Half-Time Show (which is exactly what you think it is!).

Prepare yourself for the cuteness by checking out these great dog books from the library:

What's a Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend
Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family - and a Whole Town - About Hope and Happy Endings
Comet's tale : How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life
A Dog Named Boo : How One Dog and One Woman Rescued Each Other - and the Lives They Transformed Along the Way

And these picture books for the little ones:

The Dog from Arf! Arf! to Zzzzzz
Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!
Before You Were Mine

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