From: Being Shot in Black and White…
“I finally saw “Hootenanny Hoot” all of the way through for the first time. It was on one of the film channels and don’t you know, Both of my VCRs were busted at the same time and I couldn’t tape it. My friend of 40 some years who is appearing in a show here, Ruta Lee, was one of the stars of it. All those dance numbers. Gene Nelson directed the movie – it was a “quickie”. We’d rehearse a number for a couple of days, then be rushed into wardrobe and makeup, they’d stop shooting the book, wheel in the cameras and we’d shoot it in an afternoon. Next day = new number. Sort of like TV or summer stock! All of this at MGM after they fired everyone who knew how to make musicals. It is black/white and was done to cash in on the Johnny Cash/ hootenanny craze on TV.”
JACK MOORE in Palm Springs, writing about the MGM movie, “Hootenanny Hoot!” in which he danced.
From: Ride a Wild Pony!
“…the individual air tanks that made the horses go up and down, also made a noise that gave you the feeling the horses or riders were farting.”
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN in Valdosta, writing about Holiday On Ice in Amsterdam.
Alan Bird, actor and writer
7th January 2006
It is with sadness that I write to let you know that, Alan Bird, an actor and writer, who contributed his words to this newsletter in its first two years, died yesterday, at his home in Llangollen in Wales at the age of 83.
Alan was born in the North East of England but his home base for many years was a village in Lancashire in the North West of England. He had an impressive knowledge of classical theatre and (for someone who was not a dancer) the history of ballet and opera in the 20th and 19th Centuries. If you needed to know who performed with Beerbohm-Tree? Or danced with Serge Lifar? Alan almost certainly would be able to recall some anecdote or story.
He also had an extensive knowledge of Russian art and had many articles published and contributed to a few books on the subject. He was also a fluent Russian speaker.
But his first love, was always the theatre and acting. As an actor he performed widely in the regional theatre in the UK. He was also part of the group that set up the Unity Theatre and later the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.
He was a notable King Lear at Liverpool’s Everyman in a production that included Jonathan Pryce starting out on his own career. One of the critics at the time describing Alan’s performance as the best Lear he had ever witnessed.
In later years he worked mainly in front of the camera. His television appearances included parts in: Badger 2; Breeze Block; The Royal; A Small Mourning; The Cinder Path; Steel River Blues; The Man From the Pru and others. He appeared as various old Geordie codgers in adaptations of Katherine Cookson’s novels, including: The Moth and A Dinner of Herbs.
His films included: Blonde Fist and Terence Davies’s iconic, Distant Voices, Still Lives.
Alan also spent some time in Hong Kong where he appeared in a few Kung Fu movies.
At home, Alan was a keen gardener, and somehow found time to take a law degree in his 70s and qualify to work as a solicitor (but as ever, he stuck with acting).
Alan contributed his words to this newsletter in its first two years. He enjoyed mischievously throwing in his own mildly controversial viewpoint at times. And can I say he was a gentleman in the old form of the word. Unfailingly polite. And for me personally, a voice of unfailing encouragement. It is with dismay that I find it is his name that is the first name from this website that I am announcing the death of.
He was one of my closest friends. I will miss him.