Happy Birthday, Ami Dolenz!

If you’re old enough to remember The Monkees, you might also know that drummer Micky Dolenz’s daughter, Ami Dolenz, was a popular movie and television actress since the late 1980s.  But you may not know that she also authored a children’s book entitled Harold & Agatha: The Mysterious Jewel.

Ami, Dad Micky, Mom Samantha

Ami was born on January 8, 1969, in Burbank, California.  Though both her parents were actors, they insisted that if she wanted to be in show business, she’d have to make it on her own, and at fifteen years old, she secured her own agent.  Besides acting and writing, she is also into art, especially charcoal and ink drawing, as well as jewelry making.  Last year, she published her first children’s book which she also illustrated.

For my Throwback Thursday, today, I’ll share with you the first time I met Ms. Dolenz.  It was 1997, and my sister Michelle, best friend Lora, and I had attended nearly twenty Monkees concerts up and down the Eastern seaboard that year.  We’d seen both Micky’s and Davy’s daughters before, but had never talked to any of them at that point.  We were at a resort in Beverly, Massachusetts when all four of Micky’s daughters, Ami, Charlotte, Emily, and Georgia, came downstairs and sat with us and the rest of the band in the courtyard.  Not having met them before, we were a little tentative to approach them, but it wasn’t long before someone else introduced us.  Ami and her sisters were all very sweet and genuinely kindhearted, and they were more than accommodating to pose for pictures with us.

Michelle in purple, Charlotte Dolenz, Emily Dolenz, Me in black & white, Ami Dolenz, Georgia Dolenz, Lora on end

Happy Birthday, Ami Dolenz!

Ami Dolenz in the middle; Me with white hair tie

Time to talk:  What Ami Dolenz acting role do you remember best?  Which of her father’s songs do you remember best? 

My New Year’s Day

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing what has got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever written.  In my defense, however, I was only six at the time.  The whole thing is hilarious, and it’s a little scary how my six-year old brain worked.

First of all, I don’t know why all those people only had a one-bedroom house!  (Actually, I do.  I grew up as an only child.  It was just me and my grandparents.  We lived next door to an orange grove, so there weren’t any neighbors to play with.  And my grandma never wanted to “impose” on other people by allowing me to go play somewhere else.  So for me, being an only child was being a “lonely child.”  More than anything, I wanted a house full of kids to play with.)

Second of all, you’d think that everyone over eighteen would’ve been anxious to move out!  You can definitely see why Dad worked in Hawaii to get away from all that commotion.

Furthermore, when I told you yesterday that My Three Sons was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, you can see here just how true that was (with the brother Ernie and cousins Chip and Robbie).

If you remember much about being little, you might remember that it was a HUGE DEAL to stay up past midnight!  So when Linda here stayed up until 4:30 AM, I can totally see why she thought it was the best New Year’s she ever had.  Of course, the fact that she’d only ever lived through four other New Year’s celebrations doesn’t give her much of a measuring stick.

I think the other hysterical part (besides the really bad spelling) is that I gave all this detail in the build-up, and then you blink and the story’s over.  There’s no conflict.  No resolution.  Just an expansive cast of characters in a single tiny room.

Below is the spelling-corrected version in case you can’t decipher my handwriting.  (By the way, do you notice how I made the star extra dark?  That was the year I finally learned how to draw a star all by myself, and it was a huge deal!

My New Year’s Day – January 1

Once upon a time, there was a little, brown shack on the side of a big, tall hill.  It had three rooms – a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  At the house lived a girl named Linda.  Linda was only five years old.  She had four big brothers, and they were named John, Jimmy, Ernie, and Matthew.  She only had two big sisters named Sandy and Lisa.  Her cousins’ names were Chip and Robbie.  They lived with her, too.  She had a mom, and her dad was in Hawaii because he had to work there.  Sandy was fourteen, and Lisa was twenty-one.  John was twelve; Jimmy was sixteen; Ernie was seventeen; and Matthew was ten.  Chip and Robbie were nineteen.  “It’s finally December 31,” Linda said.  They stayed up until 4:30 in the morning.  Linda said it was the best New Year’s Day she ever had.  The End

Time to talk:  Did my story make you laugh?  What was the latest you ever stayed up when you were little?  If you were one of the older kids in this house, would you move?  Would you ever allow your spouse to work in Hawaii while you stayed home in a one-bedroom house with nine kids?

Happy Birthday, Barry Livingston!

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite former child stars.  Barry Livingston played lovable Ernie Douglas on the long-time sitcom, My Three Sons (which was one of my favorite shows when I was little – in reruns, of course!).  (His real life older brother, Stanley Livingston, played his older brother Chip on the show.)  He’s guest-starred in a ton of television shows (as recently as this year!) and appeared in nearly two dozen movies.  And he’s also been in numerous on- and off-Broadway plays.  He is the only cast member of My Three Sons to still have an active Screen Actors Guild Card.

What you may not know, though, is that Mr. Livingston is also an author.  In 2011, he penned his autobiography, The Importance of Being Ernie.  (This clever title is a play on words from the Oscar Wilde play from 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”)  And in case you’re wondering, yes, he writes as well as he acts!

Happy 61st Birthday, Mr. Livingston!

Time to talk:  Did you ever watch My Three Sons?  If so, who was your favorite son?  What was your favorite TV show when you were little?

The Thanksgiving Treasure

As I’ve mentioned before, Autistic people need routines.  Because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, a change in a television lineup can cause anxiety to a degree.  For example, right now, when I write during the day, I generally have the television on low for some background noise.  I keep it tuned to channels where there are shows that I’ve already seen.  Because of my audiographic memory, I already know what’s happening, so I don’t need to pay attention, and the bit of noise helps me relax.  However, usually starting just after Halloween, they change the lineup and put Christmas movies on.  And to make matters worse, they aren’t even good Christmas movies.  So when that happens each year, I actually feel anxiety at the change and how it breaks up my routine.

So for today’s Throwback Thursday, I want to talk about my favorite childhood holiday movies.  When I was a kid, around October, there were a few nighttime movies (called specials back then) that were themed for the holidays that I just loved, so I didn’t mind the interruption to my routine.  I couldn’t wait each year for Fat Albert’s Halloween Special and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  (In fact, I loved the Charlie Brown specials that were peppered throughout the year for each holiday.)  And I absolutely adored those Christmas specials that featured the claymation characters, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.  (I even had a Frosty the Snowman story LP.)

But my favorite set of holiday specials were those that featured the character Addie Mills.  These specials included Addie and the King of Hearts for Valentine’s Day, The Easter Promise for Easter, The Thanksgiving Treasure (sometimes called The Holiday Treasure) for Thanksgiving, and The House Without a Christmas Tree for Christmas.  They were TV movies based on books of the same titles by Gail Rock.

THIS was the construction paper house that morphed into the real house.

And THIS was the real house.

In these movies, a young girl named Addie Mills (played by Lisa Lucas) lived with her father (played by Jason Robards) and grandmother (played by Mildred Natwick) in Nebraska during the 1940s.  In each of them, there is usually some conflict between Addie and her father, and the grandma is caught in the middle.  I liked these stories because like Addie, I, too, lived with my grandma.  And I liked them because they were set just post the Great Depression era, and because I lived with my grandparents, I always heard their childhood stories about that time.  And I also liked them because they were just good storylines.

This is actually a still from “The House Without a Christmas Tree.”

But the reason I loved these movies the most had absolutely nothing to do with the characters, or the setting, or the plots.  The thing I loved most about these movies was the minute and a half opening.  In each one, a woman, the grown up Addie Mills, told us that she was grown and moved away now, but when she was a child, she lived in this house…  And while she spoke, we could see a pair of hands assembling a house made of construction paper.  And by the time she was done speaking, the construction paper house morphed into her real house and the story began.  The opening was the same for all four movies.  You can see the transformation here:

When those movies came on, I ran like my bed was on fire to get as close to the TV as I could.  (Back then, we weren’t allowed to get too close.  I’m sure they thought the radiation would stunt our growth or something.)  I watched ever so closely as that paper house was assembled.  And as soon as the first commercial came on, I ran to my room and brought back all my art supplies and tried to create a perfect version of my own house for the duration of the movie.

Then I got frustrated because my paper house did not nearly resemble my actual house as closely as the one on television did.  (I was barely six years old.  I had no idea that the TV artist actually worked from a photo.)

Remember the TV Guide?

The Thanksgiving Treasure was about Addie befriending a lonely, old man who was actually the hated enemy of her father because the pond the man dug for Addie’s father leaked.  I won’t give away the end in case you are inclined to go get the DVD and watch it yourself, but I will warn you that it’s a tearjerker.

Talk to me:  What was your favorite childhood holiday movie?  Do you start decorating for Christmas just after Thanksgiving or well into December?  Do you get irritated that stores start stocking Christmas merchandise around the end of summer?

A Chilling Family Reunion

I already told you at the beginning of this month’s theme that I personally believe that either my Asperger’s Syndrome and/or my being an empath is the reason I’m sensitive to so many things such as dream predictions that come true, paranormal experiences, instincts and gut feelings that pan out, messages from the “beyond,” déjà vu, visions, feelings of dread, etc., that turn out to be right on target.  That being said, it’s not uncommon when I’m driving somewhere that I might see either a person or an animal, and someone in my close circle of friends who was looking the other way asks, “Are you sure they’re alive?”  That always makes me chuckle because, yes, they were alive.  (At least most of the time.)  My passenger just missed seeing them.

A couple of years ago, my niece, Alicia*, passed away.  She’d been in the hospital for over a month then moved in briefly with her grandmother, then into a hospice center.  While she was in the hospital here in the town where I live, I tried to go see her every day.  She lived and worked near me, and I frequently saw her when I was out running errands, and she always had the biggest hugs for her Aunt Rachel.

When she was born, her name was Alicia Williamson.*  When she was eleven, her mom met and married a wonderful man who adopted her, and her name changed to Alicia Bryan*.  During the years she was little, she spent the night with me frequently, and we had a lot of quality time together.  When she started high school, she started calling herself Lecy Bryan*.  Her friends and even her parents called her Lecy, but her grandma and a lot of her family and I still called her Alicia.  She died just a month after her twenty-seventh birthday.

A few months after Lecy passed away, I was watching an old black and white sitcom on television, and the star and the guest star were both my Facebook friends.  So I posted a status of saying that I thought it was funny that in all my years watching reruns of that show, I never dreamed that one day I’d be social network friends with those two actors, and I tagged them.

After I posted that, one of the guest stars Liked my status, then I commented how it made me giggle that said star then Liked what I wrote about him.  In the meantime, Alicia’s mother, Marie*, Liked my status.  Marie is a very busy woman with two other small children, and she doesn’t often have time for Facebook.  Furthermore, unlike me, she doesn’t care for classic TV, so it was quite odd that she acknowledged my comment, but otherwise, I didn’t think much of it.

A week or so later, I started feeling a strong sense of Alicia being near.  It became so overpowering at times, it was if my chest was caving in!  This went on for several days, and a couple of times, my sister Michelle and my son Jeremy mentioned that they dreamed about her or couldn’t stop thinking about her for some reason.  My feeling went on for days.  (Usually when I have this, it comes and goes pretty quickly.)

After about eight days of this, I was home alone when I woke up.  But I saw Alicia as clear as anything sitting on the end of my bed!  She didn’t say anything, and I just chuckled.  I got up and went straight to the kitchen and started washing the previous night’s dinner dishes when suddenly, I “felt” Alicia with me again.  I stopped what I was doing and out loud said, “Okay, Alicia, thank you for visiting.  Do you want to tell me something, or did you just stop in to say hello?  I miss you, but I really need to get some work done.”

Suddenly, the feeling was gone.  For the first time in eight days, there was not an oppressive weight on my chest, and I didn’t have the feeling I was being watched.  I finished washing the dishes, then turned on my computer and checked my Facebook.

That’s when I found:  Over two weeks after my original post about the classic TV show, someone else (not my niece) named Alicia Williamson (my niece’s original name) who was friends with the actor that Liked my post (she was not my friend), Liked my two week old status!  And if you aren’t familiar with how Facebook works, this meant that anyone else who Liked or commented on that status got the same alert that I did:  “Alicia Williamson liked your post…”  Which meant that Lecy’s mother, Marie, also got that notification.  It also meant that the other Alicia Williamson had to go to that actor’s page and scroll through the old posts on his wall to find mine.  So when I read this, I went to his page and looked.  She didn’t Like any other statuses besides mine for the weeks before or after my post.  (Sometimes, a person will go to a famous person’s page and Like everything, and I wanted to see if that was the case here.)

I immediately called Marie, and she, too, was a bit freaked out by that notification and even more so when I shared the whole story.  She said she had been upset thinking about Lecy the past few days, but it actually brought her some comfort seeing her name like that out of the blue.  She felt it was definitely an omen of sorts.  A lot of people might say this was merely a coincidence, but as I’ve told you before, I personally don’t believe in coincidences.  And even when I tell this story out loud today, I literally get goosebumps which assures me that it was meant to be.

(*Not their actual names)

Time to talk:  Have you ever been thinking of someone who was deceased then seen someone else with their same name somewhere?  If so, how did you feel?  Do you believe there are coincidences or that everything happens for a reason? 

No One’s Indispensable

The theme is interactive games.  Today’s game is to Identify TV Shows Where an Actor Replaced a Previous Actor in the Same Role.  Perhaps the show aged a character over the summer, or perhaps the actor was simply replaced.

The rules are as follows:

1. You have to include the name of the TV show.
2. You have to include the name of the original actor.
3. You have to include the name of the actor that replaced the original actor.
4. You have to include the name of the character the two actors play.
5. You may NOT repeat any of my examples. (Preferably, please don’t repeat any examples from the comments above yours.)
6. You may NOT use the internet to reference anything. (Please play honestly.)
7. You may NOT use daytime soap operas. (That would be like shooting fish in a barrel.)

Alright, now it’s your turn.  I hope that each of you will rise to the occasion and play along with me.  I’ll look forward to reading your answers below…

Tell me… Are you the only person that can do your job?  Have you ever had a job where you were the only person who knew how to do whatever you did?

Happy Birthday, Paul Petersen!

Many of you might know Paul Peterson from the original Mickey Mouse Club or as Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show.  But did you also know he’s an author?  In fact, after his years as an actor, he earned a degree in literature and wrote sixteen adventure novels!  He also published his autobiography in 1977 entitled Walt, Mickey and Me: Confessions of the First Ex-Mouseketeer.

Furthermore, in 1990, following the suicide former child star Rusty Hamer (who played Rusty in Make Room For Daddy with Danny Thomas), Mr. Petersen founded “A Minor Consideration.”  AMC is a support group for child actors to improve their working conditions and to assist in their transitions between working as child actors and their adult life, whether in acting or in other professions.

He was born on September 23, 1945 in Glendale, California.

Happy 69th Birthday, Paul Petersen!