Johnny Wright Dies at 97

Country Music Pioneer 

          Johnny Wright died at his home in Nashville on September 27 at the age of 97.  Wright was a country music fixture for the better part of the 20th century and had a number of hit records, including ‘Ashes of Love’, while performing as half of the singing duo, Johnnie and Jack.  After his singing partner and brother-in law Jack Anglin was killed in an automobile accident in 1963, Wright had a solo hit with ‘Hello Vietnam’ and later he changed the spelling of his name to ‘Johnny’. 

Married to Kitty Wells  

          Johnny Wright had been married to country music legend Kitty Wells for nearly 74 years at the time of his death and had devoted much of his own career to promoting hers.  Kitty Wells is best known for her mega hit, ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’, recorded in 1952.  At the age of 92 Kitty Wells is still known as the undisputed Queen of Country Music.  Johnny Wright was one of the few remaining pioneers of country music and many see his passing as the end of an era.

Check Out Our Article on The Living Legends of the Golden Age of Country Music

Living Legends of the Golden Age of Country Music

A Uniquely American Phenomenon

Many of us became aware that country music began to change about 25 years ago, parting ways with the stars and style that brought it into the mainstream of public appreciation in the 1960s and 70s.  Beginning with a yodeling Jimmy Rogers strumming his guitar back in the 1920s and continuing on to Tanya Tucker in the early 1990s, the Nashville sound held its own as a truly American art form for the better part of the 20th century.  While borrowing from our Irish heritage, much of what makes country music great is that it is a uniquely American phenomenon.  After all, what could be more American than Kitty Wells, Little Jimmy Dickens or Bluegrass music!

We Love the ‘New Country’, Too!

Don’t get me wrong.  We love the country music of today and the many stars who make it so popular.  Many of them are solid patriotic Americans who cherish our Judeo-Christian heritage, like one of our favorite newcomers, Justin Moore.  While we firmly support their contribution to the world of entertainment, we still must recognize that the ‘new country’ is different than the music from the Golden Age of Country Music.  It seems that without the soulful voice backed up by a fiddle and steel guitar, something is lost in the translation.

Living Stars from the Golden Age of Country Music

Thankfully, many of the great performers of the Golden Age of Country Music are still living today.  In fact, you might be surprised to know some of the ones who are still with us.  With the help of our readers, we are compiling a list of these stars to which we will add as more are brought to our attention.  Please help us add to this list by submitting the names of living stars directly as a comment on this posting.  We salute the following Living Stars from the Golden Age of Country Music (golden stars of country music indicated accordingly) and thank them for the years of great entertainment they have provided us.  They are truly part of What Makes US Great! 

Bill Anderson

Lynn Anderson (1947-2015)

Moe Bandy

Bobby Bare

Jim Ed Brown (1934-2015)

Glen Campbell

Roy Clark

John Conlee

Mac Davis

Little Jimmy Dickens (1920-2015)

Mickey Gilley

Jack Greene

Merle Haggard

Tom T. Hall

Emmylou Harris

Jan Howard

Alan Jackson

Wanda Jackson

Sonny James

George Jones (1931-2013)

Claude King (1923-2013)

Kris Kristofferson

Jerry Lee Lewis

Loretta Lynn

Barbara Mandrell

Ronnie Milsap

Melba Montgomery

Anne Murray

Willie Nelson

Marie Osmond

Dolly Parton

Ray Price (1926-2013)

Charley Pride

Jeanne Pruett

Johnny Rodriguez

Kenny Rogers

Earl Scruggs (1924-2012)

Jeannie Seely

Jean Shepard

Ricky Skaggs

Connie Smith

George Strait

Mel Tillis

Randy Travis

Tanya Tucker

Kitty Wells (1919-2012)

Slim Whitman (1924-2013)

Don Williams

Hank Williams, Jr.

Johnnie Wright (1914-2011)

          On a personal note, I have had the good fortune to see a number of the great country music artists in concert, including Ernest Tubb, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Milsap, The Judds, Roy Clark, and Buck Owens with Buckaroo greats Don Rich and Doyle Holly. 

George Jones Celebrates 80th Birthday

George Jones Celebrates 80th Birthday         

          Country music legend George Jones celebrates his 80th birthday on September 12, 2011.  Considered by many to be the greatest living star of country music, Jones was born in East Texas and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.  In 1955 his distinctive voice led to his first big hit, ‘Why Baby Why’.  Jones’ tumultuous career included bouts with alcoholism, a marriage to country megastar Tammy Wynette and a near fatal automobile accident.  

          Just a few of his greatest hits include, ‘She Thinks I Still Care’, ‘It’s Been a Good Year for the Roses’, ‘White Lightning’, ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ and ‘The Grand Tour’.  The quintessential survivor, Jones is still actively performing on a regular basis, to the delight of his millions of fans in the United States and around the world.  Happy Birthday, George, and may you continue singing for many years to come!  You are truly part of What Makes US Great!  

          Watch for our upcoming article on the Living Stars from the Golden Age of Country Music.  You might be surprised to know who’s still around.  Check out this video of George Jones singing ‘Angel Band’ with Country Gospel legend Vestal Freeman.  (To skip intro, music begins at 1:05)

 

Conservative Hollywood Stars

Conservative Hollywood Stars, Past and Present

There are a surprising number of Hollywood stars who have made their conservative views known.  Many are now actively challenging the liberals who have wormed their way into tinsel town and tightened their grip on many aspects of hiring, production and financing.  The slow, agonizing death of Hollywood over the past several decades has almost certainly been hastened by these liberals who criticize the United States and attack everything it stands for, never mind the many personal benefits they have reaped from the opportunities made available to them by this great country.  One cannot help but have pity for these and the many other unfortunate individuals suffering from that strange malady known as ‘liberal guilt syndrome’.

With the help of our readers we are compiling a list of Hollywood stars, past and present, who love America and courageously speak out about its greatness.  For the purposes of this listing we will use a loose interpretation of ‘Hollywood stars’ to include entertainers of the stage, movies and television.  Please help us add to this list by submitting the names of conservative stars directly as a comment on this posting.  We salute the following Hollywood stars from the past and the present who unabashedly love this country and contribute to What Makes US Great.

PRESENT:

Scott Baio

Stephen Baldwin

Pat Boone

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Wilford Brimley

James Caan

Dean Cain

Drew Carey

Adam Carolla

Kirk Cameron

Tony Danza

Robert Davi

William Devane

Jeff Dunham

Robert Duvall

Clint Eastwood

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Mel Gibson

Kelsey Grammer

Arlo Guthrie

James Earl Jones

Shirley Jones

Cheryl Ladd

Larry the Cable Guy

Heather Locklear

Mario Lopez

Lee Majors

Dennis Miller

Frankie Muniz

Wayne Newton

Chuck Norris

Joan Rivers (1933-2014)

Kid Rock

Paul Rodriquez

Mickey Rooney (1920-2014)

Kurt Russell

Pat Sajak

Adam Sandler

John Schneider

Rick Schroder

Tom Selleck

Jessica Simpson

Gary Sinise

Kevin Sorbo

Paul Sorvino

Sylvester Stallone

Ben Stein

Shirley Temple (1928-2014)

Jon Voight

Clint Walker

Hank Williams, Jr.

Bruce Willis

James Woods

Chuck Woolery

Kristi Yamaguchi

PAST:

Fred Astaire

Gene Autry

Ward Bond

James Cagney

Dick Clark

Gary Cooper

Joseph Cotton

Bing Crosby

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Buddy Ebsen

Glen Ford

Clark Gable

Eva Gabor

Cary Grant

Margaret Hamilton

Helen Hayes

Charlton Heston

William Holden

Bob Hope

Al Jolson

Victor Jory

Dorothy Lamour

Jeanette MacDonald

Fred MacMurray

Adolphe Menjou

Ethel Merman

Ann Miller

Frank Morgan

George Murphy

Eugene Pallette

Fess Parker

Dick Powell

Ginger Rogers

Cesar Romero

Jane Russell

Ann Sheridan

Frank Sinatra

Jimmy Stewart

Claire Trevor

Mary Wickes

 

Living Hollywood Legends

Living Legends of the Golden Age of Hollywood

It’s difficult to pinpoint the actual year that the Golden Age of Hollywood ended.  Nonetheless, most astute observers today would agree that there are but a few remaining signs of the halcyon days of this uniquely American institution, other than perhaps the Hollywood sign itself.  At one time there were hundreds and hundreds of stars of the stage and screen, each a unique personality with their own special talents.  Sadly, the movie industry in Los Angeles today has been reduced to a second-rate summer stock theatrical team of about twenty mediocre players who seem to be recycled through every movie that is being cranked out.

The Hollywood Sign

The Iconic Hollywood Sign

In recent years it has been painful to see who has been dubbed as the greatest actor or actress (we still prefer to make this gender distinction) or the most beautiful woman or the best looking man (Julia Roberts and George Clooney?  Give me a break!).  The new players suffer greatly when being compared to those from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Who is the Bette Davis of today?  Or the Jimmy Stewart or the Ethel Merman, Red Skelton or Donald Meek of today?  We could go on and on!

Thankfully, there are yet a few of the greats still living and we are privileged to share the air with these towering icons of entertainment.  With the help of our readers, we are compiling a list of these stars to which we will add as more are brought to our attention.  For the purposes of this listing we will use a loose interpretation of ‘Hollywood star’ to include all entertainers of the stage, movies and television.

Please help us add to this list by submitting the names of living stars directly as a comment on this posting.  Sadly, we lost one of the great entertainers of the 40’s and 50’s, Jane Russell, as we were preparing this initial list.  Now there was a real beauty!  Her performance as Calamity Jane with Bob Hope in Paleface will live on as a classic forever.  We salute the following Living Stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood (golden stars of Hollywood indicated accordingly) and thank them for the years of great entertainment they have provided us.  They are truly part of What Makes US Great!

Ursula Andress

Julie Andrews

Patty Andrews (1918-2013)

James Arness (1923-2011)

Ann-Margret

Edward Asner

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

Max Baer, Jr.

Barbara Bain

Conrad Bain (1923-2013)

Carroll Baker

Kaye Ballard

Brigitte Bardot

Polly Bergen (1930-2014)

Ken Berry

Claire Bloom

Ann Blythe

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Mel Brooks

Carol Burnett

Michael Caine

Harry Carey, Jr.

Mary Carlisle

Leslie Caron

Jack Carter

Sid Caesar (1922-2014)

Carol Channing

George Chakiris

Barrie Chase

Julie Christie

Dick Clark (1929-2012)

Sean Connery

Mike Connors

Robert Conrad

Tim Conway

Bill Cosby

Johnny Crawford

Arlene Dahl

Bill Daily

Vic Damone

Doris Day

Gloria DeHaven (1925-2016)

Olivia de Havilland

Bruce Dern

William Devane

Angie Dickinson

Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)

Donna Douglas (1933-2015)

Kirk Douglas

James Drury

Deanna Durbin (1921-2013)

Charles Durning (1923-2012)

Robert Duvall

Clint Eastwood

Anita Ekberg (1931-2015)

Chad Everett (1936-2012)

Nanette Fabray

Barbara Feldon

Albert Finney

Fannie Flagg

Rhonda Fleming

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

Steve Forrest (1925-2013)

Connie Francis

Robert Fuller

James Garner (1928-2014)

John Gavin

Mitzi Gaynor

Ben Gazzara (1930-2012)

Louis Gossett, Jr.

Farley Granger (1925-2011)

Larry Hagman (1931-2012)

Barbara Hale

Tippi Hedren

Sherman Hemsley (1938-2012)

Hal Holbrook

Earl Holliman

Celeste Holm (1919-2012)

Robert Horton (1924-2016)

Marsha Hunt

Anne Jeffreys

Dickie Jones (1927-2014)

James Earl Jones

Shirley Jones

Louis Jourdan (1921-2015)

Jane Kean (1923-2013)

George Kennedy (1925-2016)

Jack Klugman (1922-2012)

Martin Landau

Angela Lansbury

Piper Laurie

Carol Lawrence

Cloris Leachman

Joan Leslie (1925-2015)

Jerry Lewis

Norman Lloyd

June Lockhart

Gina Lollobrigida

Herbert Lom (1917-2012)

Marjorie Lord (1918-2015)

Sophia Loren

Tina Louise

Vera Lynn

Dorothy Malone

Tony Martin (1913-2012)

David McCallum

Shirley McClain

Jayne Meadows (1919-2015)

Lee Meriwether

Dina Merrill

Vera Miles

Dickie Moore

Juanita Moore (1914-2014)

Mary Tyler Moore

Roger Moore

Rita Moreno

Harry Morgan (1915-2011)

Don Murray

Jim Nabors

Bob Newhart

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Kim Novak

Margaret O’Brien

Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015)

Peter O’Toole (1932-2013)

Patti Page

Irene Papas

Eleanor Parker (1922-2013)

Nehemiah Persoff

Christopher Plummer

Sidney Poitier

Jane Powell

Stefanie Powers

Anthony Quinn

Charlotte Rae

Luise Rainer (1910-2014)

Joyce Randolph

Nancy Reagan (1921-2016)

Carl Reiner

Debbie Reynolds

Doris Roberts (1925-2016)

Cliff Robertson (1925-2011)

Dale Robertson (1923-2013)

Mickey Rooney (1920-2014)

Rose Marie

Marion Ross

Barbara Rush

Jane Russell (1921-2011)

Ann Rutherford (1917-2012)

Eva Marie Saint

Lizabeth Scott (1922-2015)

Omar Sharif (1932-2015)

George Beverly Shea (1909-2013)

Henry Silva

Jean Stapleton (1923-2013)

Connie Stevens

Jerry Stiller

Dean Stockwell

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

Rod Taylor (1930-2015)

Shirley Temple (Black) (1928-2014)

Phyllis Thaxter (1921-2012)

Frank Thornton (1921-2013)

Rip Torn

Cicely Tyson

Leslie Uggams

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Patten (1928-2015)

Robert Vaughn

Elena Verdugo

Abe Vigoda (1921-2016)

Robert Wagner

Bea Wain

Clint Walker

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

Tuesday Weld

Adam West

Betty White

Stuart Whitman

Esther Williams (1921-2013)

William Windom (1923-2012)

Jonathan Winters (1925-2013)

Jane Withers

Joanne Woodward

Alan Young

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (1918-2014)

Remembering Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan

 

A True Story About Ronald Reagan

          In the late 1960’s during his first term as Governor of California, Ronald Reagan was not afraid to challenge the liberals who were trying to hijack the state’s university and college system.  While chancellors and regents capitulated to the demands of disruptive rowdies bent on closing down the campuses, Reagan courageously stood up to them and exposed their motives.  At one point, the Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) decided that it might be inappropriate to hold the annual ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) graduation ceremony that year, considering the anti-war protests and unrest taking place on the campus at the time.  Acquiescing to the demands of the pusillanimous (see WOW) sluggards who were afraid to go into the military, the chancellor decided to cancel the graduation ceremony that was to honor the individuals who not only had the courage to serve their county, but who had also bravely endured the taunts of those same cowards, simply because they worn a uniform on campus.

          When Governor Reagan heard about the decision to cancel the ROTC graduation ceremony, he immediately dispatched a message to the chancellor.  The message went something like this. “Oh No You’re Not!  Not only will there be an ROTC graduation ceremony on the UCLA campus this year, but I’m going to be there and I’m going to bring John Wayne with me!”  And so he did.  The chancellor was put in his place and the protesters were rebuffed.  A huge crowd showed up to honor the ROTC graduates and hear the future president give one of his signature inspirational speeches.  That was classic ‘Ronald Reagan’, the Ronald Reagan we yearn for today!

          Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois and it was there, growing up in Middle America, that the framework for his character was formed.  Later he would have a successful career in radio, television and movies and he would serve his country in the Army Air Corps during World War II.  In 1952 Reagan married actress Nancy Davis, a union that would evolve into a dynamic team on a much bigger stage in the years to come.  Early on, Reagan began warning his country about the dangers of communism and its quest for world domination.  Many will remember his 1950 documentary illustrating the creeping influence of communism on a large world map.

          After serving two eventful terms as Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, Reagan emerged as a leader who could unite both sides of the political spectrum and actually get things done.  Elected President of the United States in 1980 by a landslide, Reagan would revive the U.S economy with his common sense approach that came to be known as Reaganomics and he would eventually bring down the Soviet Union with his unwavering belief that all people should live in freedom.  Millions of individuals were liberated and millions of lives were improved, all because of the resolve of one man.  No wonder Ronald Reagan is revered as one of the greatest U.S. presidents and is considered by his many admirers across the globe to be one of the greatest world leaders of the Twentieth Century.  Happy Birthday, President Reagan, and thank you for all that you have done.