News from the Archive

Hollywood and the Unions

September 6th, 2016

In honor of Labor Day, the Archive has once again partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to create a brand new exhibit: Hollywood and the Unions. Check it out below!

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Remembering Hugh O'Brian

September 6th, 2016
Hugh O'Brian

We’re sad to learn that actor Hugh O’Brian has passed away at the age of 91. Following his service in the Marine Corps during World War II, he began his acting career, appearing in films starring Hollywood legends like Gene Autry and Rock Hudson. O’Brian appeared on various early television shows including Fireside Theatre and The Loretta Young Show, before moving on to his most well-known part: Wyatt Earp in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. When that show ended in 1961, he continued to act on television, stage, and screen. In 1958 he established HOBY, the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership organization, which endures to this day.

Below are some selections from his 2005 interview:

On serving in the Marine Corps during World War II:

On being cast on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp:

Watch Hugh O’Brian’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

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Composer Mark Snow Explains The Origins of His Music for Some Files Marked “X”

August 26th, 2016
Mark Snow

It’s one of THE most iconic TV themes of all time. It starts with a spooky echo, followed by 6 whistled notes. It’s from a popular sci-fi show, which was recently revived after its original 1993-2002 run. Yep, that would be The X-Files theme, composed by the talented Mark Snow. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Mark for a few hours about his long, melifluous career; if you're a fan of TV scores and theme songs (I am!!), you're going to enjoy his interview.

Mark first started composing for television back on 1972’s The Rookies and worked on a number of other Spelling-Goldberg productions. He scored The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, composed the theme song to the third season of Starsky & Hutch, and was the primary composer on Hart to Hart. Outside the Spelling-Goldberg world he scored several seasons of both Falcon Crest and Smallville. But it's his role as the sole composer on The X-Files that truly secured Mark Snow’s place in both pop culture and television history.

So here it is: the creation story of The X-Files theme:

Mark also revealed that his X-Files theme was “secretly an homage” to composer Earle Hagen, who famously created and whistled The Andy Griffith Show theme. Mark studied with Earle, getting the chance to learn from one of the greats: 

We love it when one of our interviewees mentors another!

Mark is currently composing for CBS’ Blue Bloods and scored the recent 10th season of The X-Files. We hope there will be an 11th season for him to score, too…

Today is Mark Snow’s 70th birthday, so celebrate by watching his full Archive interview! His truth is in there. 

- by Adrienne Faillace

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Remembering Arthur Hiller

August 17th, 2016
Arthur Hiller

We’re sad to learn that director Arthur Hiller has passed away at the age of 92. A native of Canada, he began his career at the CBC before going on to direct “live” television anthologies in the United States, including NBC Matinee Theater and Playhouse 90. Hiller directed episodes of many classic television series of the 1950s and 1960s, from Perry Mason and Gunsmoke to Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Route 66. In the 1970s and beyond, he found great success as a film director. His beloved movies include “The Out of Towners” and “Love Story.”

Below are some selections from his 2003 interview:

On directing early television in Canada versus the United States:

“The set up between Canada and the United States in terms of live TV was very much the same. … you had the same problems. How do you do continuity? How do you get somebody from here to here? How do you get a camera here? How do you light this? You had to be so aware of those. In Canada we had to do a little more work because there was no such thing as an assistant director. … but you did have a technical director, you did have lighting, you did have all those things.”

On preparing to direct a project: 

“My preparation for television episode or for film are very much the same. I think maybe it comes out of my sort of insecurity, but I’m very much into preparing. First I just read the script and read the script and read the script and it starts then to sort of form in my head and I start thinking more deeply about the characters or their relationships. … I would like to be able, I’d say two weeks before we film, wasn’t quite so long in television, but to be able to answer any question that anybody would ask me on the crew or the actors. And I find that the more prepared I am and the more I have it in my head, the more flexible I am on the set when things happen that are a little different or I get an idea or somebody makes a suggestion, I’m not in panic because I know I can fall back, I have my what shall I say? My sustainer is there. And so I work that way. A lot of other directors I know will do most of their work at the scene. They will research, I mean they will prepare, but not like I do.”

On advice to aspiring directors:

“It better be the only thing you want to do, because to become successful in television or film in directing is just so, so hard, you need so much luck… part of it is you got to hang in, hang in and one day a door will open. Keep knocking on those doors. But when it opens you better be good.”

On how he’d like people to remember him: 

“I’d like them to feel I cared about the world in general and about people. I think I haven’t expressed, how shall I say? A worthwhile comment in every film, but at least I reached for an affirmation of the human spirit. I can’t do those films that… break down the human spirit or dismember people in a sense, I just I feel at least I want that affirmation of the human spirit.”

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Garry Marshall: An Appreciation

August 16th, 2016
Garry Marshall

In the 1970s, three men dominated the network television landscape. They were a holy trinity of comedic programming. Norman Lear, James L. Brooks, and Garry Marshall. We sadly lost Garry on July 19th.

It is remarkable to look back at the top ten regularly scheduled programs of the 1975-76 season and see that Lear, Brooks, and Marshall were responsible for creating eight of them. They each had several other shows in the top thirty, and their influence can be found in dozens of other shows on the air that year.

While Brooks and Lear were big on tackling social issues on their shows, Marshall always focused mostly on making us laugh. The Odd Couple never had the social relevancy of Mary Tyler Moore or All in the Family, but the laughs per minute ratio was always just as high.

Much of Garry’s genius was in casting. How could he match Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon from the movie version of “The Odd Couple”? He did. He found the perfect Felix and Oscar to come into our homes week after week in Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. If you’ve ever seen Henry Winkler speak in an interview, you’ll see that it isn’t immediately apparent that he could play a misunderstood hoodlum in 1950’s Milwaukee. Garry Marshall saw it and helped create the most iconic television character in history with Arthur “Fonize” Fonzarelli on Happy Days.

For Garry, as far as his shows were concerned, laughs and ratings were of utmost importance. I can remember a story where early in the run of Laverne & Shirley, Cindy Williams was discontent with some of the scripts. The show had hit the ground running at number one, and was only growing in popularity. Williams met with Marshall and spelled out for him all of the issues she’d been having, including the fact that she’d left a promising feature film career to do a sitcom. When she was done, Marshall paused, looked her in the eye and said “Cindy, TAKE THE MONEY!” He never had trouble with her again.

As a kid, I loved trying to figure out the “Garry Marshall-verse.” The Odd Couple had no continuity. Over the course of the series, the tale about how Felix and Oscar first met changed from week to week. One week they’d known each other in childhood, the next week they’d met on a jury, or in the army. Richie Cunningham first encountered Mork from Ork on Happy Days in a dream he had. Mork was such a hit that the story was retrofitted- he suddenly became real for his own series, Mork & Mindy. On the show Blansky’s Beauties, Marshall had several characters cross over from Happy Days to make guest appearances to boost ratings. The only problem was that Happy Days took place in 1962, and Blansky’s took place in 1978. And there were several actors from Happy Days (Scott Baio, Lynda Goodfriend) playing different characters. But that was ok. Garry’s shows made us laugh so much that we forgave Time Travelin’ Pinky Tuscadero.

Of course, Garry went on to have an amazing feature film career as a director. But my favorites of all of his work were his acting roles. He was perfect as the micro-managing network president Stan Lansing on Murphy Brown. And sublime as the incredulous casino owner in Albert Brooks’ feature “Lost in America.” Garry had a beautiful sense of Borscht Belt comedic timing, and could turn a phrase better than anyone.

Garry Marshall was one of the last of a dying breed: the network television maverick, creating hits, spinning off shows, and creating national catchphrases and cultural icons on a regular basis. We will not see his like again. Rest in Peace, Garry Marshall. Ya done good!

- by John Dalton


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