Wednesday September 8, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Monkees
On this Day:
In 1965, a small ad in New York’s Daily Variety attracts 437 young men interested in forming the world’s first manufactured boy band, “The Monkees”
The Monkees is an American situation comedy series that first aired on NBC for two seasons, from September 12, 1966 to March 25, 1968. The series follows the adventures of four young men (The Monkees) trying to make a name for themselves as a rock ‘n roll band. The show introduced a number of innovative new-wave film techniques to series television and won two Emmy Awards in 1967, including Outstanding Comedy Series. The program ended in 1968 at the finish of its second season and has received a long afterlife through Saturday morning repeats (CBS and ABC) and syndication, as well as overseas broadcasts.
It later enjoyed a 1980s revival, after MTV aired reruns of the program in 1986. It has aired on Sunday afternoons on MeTV since February 24, 2019, three days after the death of cast member Peter Tork.
The series centered on the adventures of the Monkees, a struggling rock band from Los Angeles, California consisting of Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter. The comic elements of the storyline were provided by the strange and often surreal encounters that the band would have while searching for their big break.
In the early 1960s, aspiring filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider had formed Raybert Productions and were trying to get a foot in the door in Hollywood. They were inspired by the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and decided to develop a television series about a fictional rock and roll group. Raybert sold the series idea to Screen Gems in April 1965, and Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker completed a pilot script by August entitled “The Monkeys”. Rafelson has said that he had the idea for a TV series about a music group as early as 1960, but had a hard time interesting anyone in it until 1965, by which time rock and roll music was firmly entrenched in pop culture.
Trade publications Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad on September 8, 1965, seeking “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.” As many as 400 hopefuls showed up to be considered as one of “4 insane boys.” Fourteen actors from the audition pool were brought back for screen tests and Raybert chose their final four after audience research.
Micky Dolenz, son of screen actor George Dolenz, had prior screen experience under the name “Mickey Braddock” as the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s. He was actively auditioning for pilots at the time and was told about the Raybert project by his agent.
Englishman Davy Jones was a former jockey who had achieved some initial success on the musical stage, appearing with the cast of Oliver on The Ed Sullivan Show the night of the Beatles’ live American debut. He was appearing in Columbia Pictures productions and recording for the Colpix record label and had been identified in advance as a potential star for the series.
Texan Michael Nesmith’s mother Bette Nesmith Graham had invented a correction fluid and founded the company that became Liquid Paper. He had served a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force and had also recorded for Colpix under the name “Michael Blessing.” He was the only one of The Monkees who had come for the audition based on seeing the trade magazine ad. He showed up to the audition with his laundry and impressed Rafelson and Schneider with his laid-back style and droll sense of humor. He also wore a woollen hat to keep his hair out of his eyes when he rode his motorcycle, leading to early promotional materials which nicknamed him “Wool Hat.” The hat remained part of Nesmith’s wardrobe, but the name was dropped after the pilot.
Peter Tork was recommended to Rafelson and Schneider by friend Stephen Stills at his audition. Tork was a skilled multi-instrumentalist who had performed at various Greenwich Village folk clubs before moving west, where he worked as a busboy.
Rafelson and Schneider wanted the style of the series to reflect avant garde film techniques — such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts, breaking the fourth wall and free-flowing, loose narratives — then being pioneered by European film directors. Each episode would contain at least one musical “romp” which might have nothing to do with the storyline. In retrospect, these vignettes now look very much like music videos: short, self-contained films of songs whose style echoed the Beatles’ recent ventures into promotional films for their singles. Rafelson and Schneider also believed strongly in the program’s ability to appeal to young people, intentionally framing the kids as heroes and the adults as heavies.
Rafelson and Schneider hired novice director James Frawley to teach the four actors improvisational comedy. Each of the four was given a different personality to portray: Dolenz the funny one, Nesmith the smart and serious one, Tork the naive one, and Jones the cute one. Their characters were loosely based on their real selves, with the exception of Tork, who was actually a quiet intellectual. The character types also had much in common with the respective personalities of the Beatles, with Dolenz representing the madcap attitude of John Lennon, Nesmith affecting the deadpan seriousness of George Harrison, Tork depicting the odd-man-out quality of Ringo Starr, and Jones conveying the pin-up appeal of Paul McCartney.
A pilot episode was shot in San Diego and Los Angeles on a shoestring budget — in many scenes, the Monkees wore their own clothes. Initial audience tests (which were just then being pioneered) produced very low responses. Rafelson then re-edited the pilot and included some of the screen tests to better introduce the band members to viewers. (Dolenz was credited in this pilot as “Micky Braddock.”) The re-cut pilot tested so well that NBC placed an order for two seasons of episodes (the edited pilot was broadcast November 14, 1966, as the 10th episode of the first season, with Dolenz credited under his real last name, as for all other episodes).
The Monkees debuted September 12, 1966, on the NBC television network. The series was sponsored on alternate weeks by Kellogg’s Cereals and Yardley of London.
The series was filmed by Screen Gems and many of the same sets and props from The Three Stooges short films made by the studio were used on The Monkees: a pair of pajamas with a bunny design on the front that had been worn by Curly Howard in shorts such as Cactus Makes Perfect and In the Sweet Pie and Pie were the same ones worn by Peter Tork in various episodes, such as “A Coffin Too Frequent” and “Monkee See, Monkee Die”.
Due to the young men routinely wandering off set and being hard to find when needed for filming, any of the four Monkees who were not needed in front of the cameras was sequestered in a repurposed meat locker. In the DVD commentary, Tork noted that this had the added benefit of concealing any marijuana use that might be going on, although he admitted that he was the sole “serious ‘head'” of the four of them (in the 1980s, Tork gave up alcohol and marijuana use and volunteered time to help people recovering from alcoholism). In a studio outtake included in the 1990s re-release of Headquarters, Nesmith quips, before launching into “Nine Times Blue”: “Only difference between me and Peter is I’m just stone legal.”
Due to the loosely scripted nature of the series, some episodes would come in too short for air. The producers decided to fill time with various “extras”, including the Monkees’ original screen tests and candid interviews with the group (conducted by Rafelson off-camera); these interviews usually lasted 1 minute, hence the frequent joke, “We’re a minute short as usual,” though the episode “Find the Monkees” featured a three-minute epilogue interview (in which the Monkees gave their opinions on the then-recently occurred Sunset Strip curfew riots). Although the early episodes contained a laugh track, which was standard practice at the time, the show eventually did not add one and half of the episodes from Season 2 had no canned laughter.
The theme song to The Monkees, “(Theme From) The Monkees” (released as the single in some countries in 1967), is one of the group’s most well known songs. The line “We’re the young generation and we’ve got somethin’ to say” reflected the new youth counterculture and their desire to give their own opinions on world events and choosing how to live their own lives instead of abiding by the traditions and beliefs of their elders.
For the second season, the show used a version of the song “For Pete’s Sake” as the closing theme, which appeared on the Monkees’ album Headquarters.
The Monkees won two Emmy Awards in 1967: Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy (James Frawley, for the episode “Royal Flush”). Frawley was nominated for the same award the following season (for the episode “The Devil and Peter Tork”). Its win for Comedy Series was considered somewhat of an upset, as it bested long-time favorites The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes.
The TV show Miami 7, the debut of the British 1990s pop band S Club 7, had a very similar premise. It was the second time that a manufactured band had their own TV show on American television. Likewise, the Nickelodeon sitcom Big Time Rush followed the same basic format and premise and the producers of that show acknowledged The Monkees as their primary inspiration.
Dolenz said in a 2007 interview on the Roe Conn radio program that, while inspiration did come from the Beatles, the band’s image was not meant to be a rip-off of them. He said that the Beatles were always depicted as superstars with legions of fans, whereas the Monkees were always depicted as unsigned and struggling to make a buck. This is reflected numerous times throughout the series, such as in the pilot, where Mike Nesmith is seen throwing darts at a Beatles poster and in the episode “Find the Monkees (The Audition)” where the Monkees struggle to see a famous television producer who is looking for a rock act for use in commercial advertisements; in the episode “I Was a 99-Pound Weakling”, Micky is tricked into signing onto a bogus weight-training program, but objects by noting, “Where am I gonna get that kind of money? I’m an unemployed drummer.” Also in a screen test, a Monkee asks what the Beatles have that they do not have. They sing “Thirteen million dollars!” Also, the last episode of the series, “The Frodis Caper,” opens with the repetitive strains of the chorus of the Beatles’ “Good Morning, Good Morning” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
When commenting on the death of Davy Jones on February 29, 2012, Time magazine contributor James Poniewozik praised the show: “Even if the show never meant to be more than entertainment and a hit-single generator, we shouldn’t sell The Monkees short. It was far better TV than it had to be; during an era of formulaic domestic sitcoms and wacky comedies, it was a stylistically ambitious show, with a distinctive visual style, absurdist sense of humor and unusual story structure. Whatever Jones and The Monkees were meant to be, they became creative artists in their own right, and Jones’ chipper Brit-pop presence was a big reason they were able to produce work that was commercial, wholesome and yet impressively weird.” (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
I heard that Peter Tork of The Monkees had passed away. Now I’m a bereaver…
Second, a Song:
Today is a Double Feature:
“(Theme from) The Monkees” is a 1966 pop rock song, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as the signature tune for the TV series The Monkees. Two versions were recorded – one for their first album The Monkees and a second shorter rendition designed to open the television show. Both feature vocals by Micky Dolenz. It is based loosely on the Dave Clark Five song (including finger snap intro) “Catch Us If You Can”.
The full-length version was released as a single in several countries including Australia, where it became a hit, reaching No. 8. It also made Billboard Magazine’s “Hits of the World” chart in both Mexico and Japan, reaching the Top 20 in Japan and the Top 10 in Mexico. It is still played on many oldies radio stations. An Italian version of the song was featured on a Monkees compilation album. Ray Stevens did his take of the Monkees Theme on his 1985 album He Thinks He’s Ray Stevens featuring a male German group of singers, Wolfgang and Fritzy, that are arguing during the refrain of the song. (“Hey Hey Bist Du Monkees”.)
A slower version – sung by Boyce and Hart – was recorded for an early production of the pilot episode (16mm black and white). This can be found on the Special Features section of the Monkees season 1 DVD box set.
The song is featured in the trailer for the 1994 film Monkey Trouble, and is used on the Minions film soundtrack (per Wikipedia).
Here is The Monkees theme song. I hope you enjoy this!
“I’m a Believer” is a song written by Neil Diamond and recorded by the Monkees in 1966 with the lead vocals by Micky Dolenz. The single, produced by Jeff Barry, hit the number-one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 31, 1966, and remained there for seven weeks, becoming the last No. 1 hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling record for all of 1967. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 5 song for 1967. Because of 1,051,280 advance orders, it went Gold within two days of release. It is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold more than 10 million physical copies worldwide. While originally published by Screen Gems-Columbia Music (BMI), it is now published by Stonebridge Music/EMI Foray Music (SESAC), with administration passed to Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing Group.
The song was No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in January and February 1967 and reached the top spot in numerous countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland.
Billboard described the song as “an easy-go dance mover” that “will hit with immediate impact.”
The song appeared in four consecutive episodes of The Monkees TV show in December 1966.
The song is listed at No. 48 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.
And next is the Shrek version recorded by Smash Mouth.
American pop rock band Smash Mouth covered the song in 2001 as part of the soundtrack to the movie Shrek. Eddie Murphy, portraying the character Donkey, also performed a rendition of the song in the film. The song was chosen for its opening line, “I thought love was only true in fairy tales”, which matched the fairy tale theme of the film (per Wikipedia).
Smash Mouth is an American rock band from San Jose, California. The band was formed in 1994, and was originally composed of Steve Harwell (lead vocals), Kevin Coleman (drums), Greg Camp (guitar), and Paul De Lisle (bass). They are known for their songs “Walkin’ on the Sun” (1997), “All Star” (1999), and “Then The Morning Comes” (1999), as well as a cover of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” (2001).
The band adopted retro styles covering several decades of popular music. They have also performed numerous covers of popular songs, including War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”, Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, ? & the Mysterians’ “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby”, the Beatles’ “Getting Better”, and “I Wan’na Be Like You” from The Jungle Book. They also composed 2 songs for the South Korean animated film Pororo, The Racing Adventure: “Beside Myself” and “Everything Just Crazy” (from Wikipedia).
Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated comedy film loosely based on the 1990 fairy tale picture book of the same name by William Steig. Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson in their directorial debuts, it stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow as the voices of the lead characters. The film parodies other fairy tale adaptations, primarily aimed at animated Disney films. In the story, an ogre named Shrek (Myers) finds his swamp overrun by fairy tale creatures who have been banished by the corrupt Lord Farquaad (Lithgow) aspiring to be king. Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to regain control of his swamp in return for rescuing Princess Fiona (Diaz), whom Farquaad intends to marry. With the help of Donkey (Murphy), Shrek embarks on his quest but soon falls in love with the princess, who is hiding a secret that will change his life forever.
After purchasing the rights to Steig’s book in 1991, Steven Spielberg planned to produce a traditionally-animated film based on the book, but John H. Williams convinced him to bring the project to the newly founded DreamWorks in 1994. Jeffrey Katzenberg began active development of the film in 1995 immediately following the studio’s purchase of the rights from Spielberg. Chris Farley was originally cast as the voice for the title character, recording nearly all of the required dialogue. After Farley died in 1997 before his work on the film was finished, Mike Myers was hired to voice the character, eventually settling on giving Shrek a Scottish accent. The film was initially intended to be created using motion capture, but after poor test results, the studio hired Pacific Data Images to complete the final computer animation.
Shrek premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or, making it the first animated film since Disney’s Peter Pan (1953) to be chosen to do so. The film was widely praised by critics for its animation, voice performances, writing and humor, which critics noted simultaneously catered to both adults and children. The film was theatrically released in the United States on May 18, 2001, and grossed $484 million worldwide against a production budget of $60 million, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2001. Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It earned six award nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), ultimately winning Best Adapted Screenplay. The film’s success helped establish DreamWorks Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar in feature film computer animation, and three sequels were released—Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), and Shrek Forever After (2010)—along with two holiday specials, a spin-off film, and a stage musical that kickstarted the Shrek franchise. Although plans for a fifth film were canceled prior to the fourth film’s release, the project was revived in 2016, but has since stalled, with production and a potential release date getting pushed back.
Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, Shrek was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2020 (per Wikipedia).
Here is Shrek’s version of “I’m a Believer”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“When I was 20, in 1957, and maybe you would say I was old enough to know better, but nevertheless, I was completely nuts about Buddy Holly. And I loved pop bands that had absolutely no intellectual pretensions whatsoever. I loved the Monkees.” – Tom Stoppard
“Wherever I go, people still shout out: ‘Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees.’ And I never tire of that.” – Davy Jones
Further to the Elizabeth I Smile:
Rosalyn & Troy Manthorpe of Coquitlam, BC, Canada write:
Good morning, Dave and Colleen,
Thank you for your continued hard work. Your efforts are appreciated.
We often share them with others.
Rosalyn & Troy Manthorpe
And Ron Usher of Parksville, BC, Canada writes:
Tuesday, September 7, 2021’s Smile of the Day: A Special Birthday
On this Day: Little Davey B was born
First, a Story:
A birthday is the anniversary of the birth of a person, or figuratively of an institution. Birthdays of people are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with birthday gifts, birthday cards, a birthday party, or a rite of passage.Many religions celebrate the birth of their founders or religious figures with special holidays (e.g. Christmas, Mawlid, Buddha’s Birthday, and Krishna Janmashtami).There is a distinction between birthday and birthdate: The former, other than February 29, occurs each year (e.g., January 15), while the latter is the exact date a person was born (e.g., January 15, 2001).
On this day a lot of people who are apparently famous were born, as least so we are told. Rumour has it that these events are actually unrelated to the birth of Davey B. but his family has always denied this.
923 – Suzaku, emperor of Japan (d. 952)
1395 – Reginald West, 6th Baron De La Warr, English politician (d. 1427)
1438 – Louis II, Landgrave of Lower Hesse (d. 1471)
1448 – Henry, Count of Württemberg-Montbéliard (1473–1482) (d. 1519)
1500 – Sebastian Newdigate, Carthusian monk and martyr (d. 1535)
1524 – Thomas Erastus, Swiss physician and theologian (d. 1583)
1533 – Elizabeth I of England (d. 1603)
1629 – Sir John Perceval, 1st Baronet, Irish nobleman (d. 1665)
1635 – Paul I, Prince Esterházy, Hungarian prince (d. 1713)
1641 – Tokugawa Ietsuna, Japanese shōgun (d. 1680)
1650 – Juan Manuel María de la Aurora, 8th duke of Escalona (d. 1725)
1683 – Maria Anna of Austria (d. 1754)
1694 – Johan Ludvig Holstein-Ledreborg, Danish Minister of State (d. 1763)
1705 – Matthäus Günther, German painter (d. 1788)
1707 – Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, French mathematician, cosmologist, and author (d. 1788)
1726 – François-André Danican Philidor, French chess player and composer (d. 1795)
1740 – Johan Tobias Sergel, Swedish sculptor and illustrator (d. 1814)
1777 – Heinrich Stölzel, German horn player and composer (d. 1844)
1791 – Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Italian poet and author (d. 1863)
1795 – John William Polidori, English physician and author (d. 1821)
1801 – Sarel Cilliers, South African preacher and activist (d.1871)
1803 – William Knibb, English Baptist minister and Jamaican missionary (d.1845)
1807 – Henry Sewell, English lawyer and politician, 1st Prime Minister of New Zealand (d. 1879)
1810 – Hermann Heinrich Gossen, Prussian economist and academic (d. 1858)
1813 – Emil Korytko, Polish activist and translator (d. 1839)
1815 – John McDouall Stuart, Scottish explorer and surveyor (d. 1866)
1818 – Thomas Talbot, American businessman and politician, 31st Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1886)
1819 – Thomas A. Hendricks, American lawyer and politician, 21st Vice President of the United States (d. 1885)
1829 – August Kekulé, German chemist and academic (d. 1896)
1831 – Alexandre Falguière, French sculptor and painter (d. 1900)
1836 – Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Scottish merchant and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1908)
1836 – August Toepler, German physicist and academic (d. 1912)
1842 – Johannes Zukertort, Polish-English chess player, linguist, and journalist (d. 1888)
1851 – Edward Asahel Birge, American zoologist and academic (d. 1950)
1855 – William Friese-Greene, English photographer, director, and cinematographer (d. 1921)
1860 – Grandma Moses, American painter (d. 1961)
1862 – Edgar Speyer, American-English financier and philanthropist (d. 1932)
1866 – Tristan Bernard, French author and playwright (d. 1947)
1867 – Albert Bassermann, German-Swiss actor (d. 1952)
1867 – J. P. Morgan Jr., American banker and philanthropist (d. 1943)
1869 – Ben Viljoen, South African general (d. 1917)
1870 – Aleksandr Kuprin, Russian pilot, explorer, and author (d. 1938)
1871 – George Hirst, English cricketer and coach (d. 1954)
1875 – Edward Francis Hutton, American businessman and financier, co-founded E. F. Hutton & Co. (d. 1962)
1876 – Francesco Buhagiar, Maltese politician, 2nd Prime Minister of Malta (d. 1934)
1876 – C. J. Dennis, Australian poet and author (d. 1938)
1883 – Theophrastos Sakellaridis, Greek composer and conductor (d. 1950)
1885 – Elinor Wylie, American author and poet (d. 1928)
1887 – Edith Sitwell, English poet and critic (d. 1964)
1892 – Eric Harrison, Australian soldier and politician, 27th Australian Minister for Defence (d. 1974)
1892 – Oscar O’Brien, Canadian priest, pianist, and composer (d. 1958)
1893 – Leslie Hore-Belisha, English politician, Secretary of State for War (d. 1957)
1894 – Vic Richardson, Australian cricketer, footballer, and sportscaster (d. 1969)
1894 – George Waggner, American actor, director, and producer (d. 1984)
1895 – Jacques Vaché, French author and poet (d. 1919)
1900 – Taylor Caldwell, English-American author (d. 1985)
1900 – Giuseppe Zangara, Italian-American assassin of Anton Cermak (d. 1933)
1903 – Margaret Landon, American missionary and author (d. 1993)
1903 – Dorothy Marie Donnelly, American poet and author (d. 1994)
1904 – C. B. Colby, American author (d. 1977)
1907 – Ahmed Adnan Saygun, Turkish composer and musicologist (d. 1991)
1908 – Paul Brown, American football player and coach (d. 1991)
1908 – Michael E. DeBakey, American surgeon and educator (d. 2008)
1908 – Max Kaminsky, American trumpet player and bandleader (d. 1994)
1909 – Elia Kazan, Greek-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2003)
1911 – Todor Zhivkov, Bulgarian police officer and politician, Head of State of Bulgaria (d. 1998)
Second, a Song:
A little something from Mr. Stevie Wonder
Thought for the Day:
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” – A. A. Milne
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Have a great day!
© 2021 Ronnie U.
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky