Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 15, 2013

SINGER: The best-kept secret

Niagara Gazette — The best-kept secret? Catholicism — when it was the real, demanding thing, not least in Western New York, where great brick academies and private colleges — helped turn out many fine humans. This column should be a book subject, but I’ll try to be pithy and focus mostly on entertainment icons you’d know.

On today’s TV we’re getting old “product” galore and one series that slays me is “Dragnet,” featuring Jack Webb not only as no-nonsense Sergeant Friday, but really as the show’s standards-provider in its production and direction.

You get a real sense of the man — blunt for sure, but also revealing depths of humanity; and I for one am sorry that he died at 62 after a life replete with 18-hour days on this baby of his, “Dragnet.”

He himself was abandoned from the get-go by a Jewish father; however, his Irish-Native American mom gave him a rigorous Catholic upbringing in Los Angeles, and the results seem palpable.

As they do in Chuck Connors on “The Rifleman,” raised Catholic in Brooklyn, then playing pro basketball (Rochester Royals, Boston Celtics) and baseball (Dodgers, etc.); but coming to fame with something of Webb’s blunt, yet human demeanor on the small screen — shown best in the “Rifleman” series, running from 1958-1963.

You also denote a strict Catholic upbringing in New York-bred Jack Lord of the original “Hawaii Five-0.” Lord’s real name was John Joseph Patrick Ryan, and he’d been in the Merchant Marine, and again, seems solid and real on a show he helped make iconic.

And then there’s Marlo Thomas in “That Girl,” who later put her Catholicism into beneficial practice for the St. Jude Children’s hospital; and from an earlier generation, Thomas’ godmother, Loretta Young. When I was a kid, Young’s television show would probably have been too “adult,” and for whatever reason, I rarely saw it back in the day, nor the movies she’d made before deciding to gamble on the new medium of TV in the early ‘50s.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: To every thing there is a season; this is OURS I'm not sure what The Byrds had in mind way back in 1965 when they popularized Pete Seeger's 1950s rendition of Ecclesiastes 3, but I am inclined to agree with novelist Thomas Wolfe who wrote: "[O]f all I have ever seen or learned, that book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man's life upon this earth."

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Property rights and the Clean Water Act The United States of America was founded on the premise of natural rights, succinctly dictated as the unalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, inside and out When I had a couple of questions I checked in with Whitney Mallam, a long-time church member who introduced me to Solon Myron Napoleon Whitney (commonly known as "The Major"), one of his relatives from the early days of this church's history. I was intrigued by some of Whit's comments and hope to learn more about him in the future.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Seneca Niagara Casino in billionaire category One of the Niagara area's biggest businesses is now part of the billionaire class.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SINGER: Bridging the ideological gap Being both liberal and conservative, as currently designated, makes one perhaps sound wishy-washy; but one can't go down the line on everything.

    April 20, 2014

  • NIA Smith, Doug and Polly LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Home alone on the Island Yeah, you know who I mean. Hard to start this project without you but deadline looms and you're still bein' Nana, the role you were born to play. I know, I know, if you'd known grandchildren were this much fun, you'd have had them first.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: The Bills stadium and the proverbs We are what we are because of the way that we think, and we got the nothingness that have as a result of it.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Say it ain't so, Joe I had just parked my car in front of the Gazette offices on Niagara Street last week Thursday when a man approached me and stood by my door.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Tom T mug TOM'S CORNER: Bringing your own parts to repair shop is a bad idea The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom's Corner will appear in Thursday's editions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Tourism operators ready for new season Niagara area hospitality industry people will mark National Tourism Week, May 3 to May 11, with special events focusing on the assets that shape the Cataract City as a major destination.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page