Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: Z is for Zoe Bell!

And this brings us to the end of another April A-Z Blogging Challenge - and we're going back down under for another festival of stunt work - so let's ring that Bell while I tell you that most assuredly

Z is for Zoë Bell!

I vaguely knew of Zoë Bell from her stunt work on the two Kill Bill movies for Quentin Tarantino - but I hadn't yet seen those movies when I saw Grindhouse in 2007. I marvelled at Bell's work - acting and stunts - in the Tarantino portion of the double feature - Death Proof.

Zoë Bell was born in Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Her mother was a nurse; her father, a doctor. When she was in her teens, her father treated an injured stuntman and got his phone number to give to Zoë. She was already involved in gymnastics, Taekwon-Do, dance, high diving, scuba, and track and field. She called, and soon did her first stunt work for a New Zealand soap opera called Shortland Street.

After that she started doing stunt work for both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Xena: Warrior Princess, which kept her busy for several seasons. She eventually moved up to being Lucy (Xena) Lawless's main stunt double in that show's fourth season.

More TV stunts followed. Then, Bell was hired as one of the doubles for Uma Thurman for the Kill Bill movies. Initially she was only supposed to do smash and crash stunts - going into walls, being thrown across the room, etc - but she proved such a good double that with some sword training she became the main stunt and fighting double for Thurman.

This led to Tarantino writing Death Proof for her - in it she plays herself, menaced by a man (Kurt Russell) who kills with his specially rigged car - he can slam it into other cars and live through it because it is - as the title states - Death Proof. Only Bell's extraordinary stunt skills allows her to survive his attack.

Because stunt work is so visual and visceral - we need some video for illustration - here's a nice montage from Artemis Chosen - thanks, Artemis!

Bell has since appeared as an actress and stunt double in every movie Tarantino has made since - of course, that's only two - Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. But she's done other acting and stunt work - notably doubling Sharon Stone in the ill-received Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry and in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I adore Zoe Bell - and wish even more movies and TV shows would feature her - I think she's smoking hot - and combined with her accent and her amazing stunt abilities - va va va voom indeed!

And that brings the A-Z Challenge to an end - but you know what - in an extraordinary coincidence - the Challenge always seems to end on my birthday! (Not really a coincidence, by the way)

To celebrate, I always throw in something extra to this post - let's see what we can get up to...

Let's let the ladies serenade me in three clips from some fave flicks...

First up - PJ. Soles and Rock-n-Roll High School -

Second is Renee Zellweger from Empire Records -

And last but not least E.G. Daily from Better Off Dead!

Happy Birthday to me!

Until next post - late this week - I'm taking a few days off - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: Y is for Michelle Yeoh!

"Y" shouldn't we take this penultimate April 2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge post to shine the spotlight on a lady who has gotten her kicks with Jackie Chan and James Bond? That means without a doubt that

Y is for Michelle Yeoh!

Michelle Yeoh was born in 1963 in Ipoh, Malaysia. As a young girl she studied ballet and seemed to be headed for a career in dance, but a spinal injury ended her dance career. She continued to study choreography.

In 1983, she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant, then went on to represent Malaysia at the Queen of the Pacific 1983 beauty pageant which she also won. This moved her on to the 1983 Miss World pageant, which she did not win.

She next appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan - foreshadowing events to come - and this brought her to the attention of a fledgling Hong Kong film production company, D-and-B Films - who cast her in the Sammo Hung directed Owl vs Bobbo (1984), and followed it with roles for Yeoh in Yes, Madam (1985); Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985) ; In the Line of Duty (1986); Magnificent Warriors (1987); and Easy Money (1987). After these films - in which D-and-B Films had Yeo credited as Michelle Khan - Yeoh married D-and-B honcho Dickson Poon and retired from acting.

Here she is in a couple of minutes from Magnificent Warriors - check out her moves!

When Yeoh and Poon divorced in 1992, Yeoh returned to acting. She teamed with Jackie Chan in 1992 for the incredibly popular Police Story 3: Super Cop (released here as Supercop in 1996) - with both doing an amazing amount of stunt work for the film - and followed it with  6 (!) movies in 1993, then continued making two or three movies a year through the 1990's. Yeoh also ditched the Khan name and moved back to her own moniker.

Here's some of her fights and action from Supercop:

She first came on to my radar in a big way when she was hired as the Bond girl for Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997. I thought she was marvelous as Wai Lin - Chinese secret agent initially reluctantly teamed up with Pierce Brosnan's James Bond - and the movie is my favorite of Brosnan's four 007 outings.

Here's the trailer for Tomorrow Never Dies - with some choice Yeoh moments along the way...

Her second film after TND propelled Michelle Yeoh much higher in her fame - Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. While not anything particularly special in terms of Hong Kong action cinema - it really caught on with audiences worldwide - earning massive amounts of money and several nominations and awards, including a BAFTA for Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh!

Michelle Yeoh has continued to act in the 21st century, though more in dramas and fewer action films. However, a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2 has been mentioned, and who knows what else she might get up to before age slows her down completely? Definitely check out some of her 80's and 90's movies - action junkies will find a very satisfying fix in Michelle Yeoh!

"Z" end comes tomorrow - so please come back for the final post in this blogging challenge - and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: X is for Xuxa!

The April 2013 A - Z Blogging Challenge is nearing its end - but what a treasure trove of people, information, and fun!

For this post let's make another visit to

The Video Vault of Mora Tau! 4/27/13

And did I say treasure? Yes! And you know what always designates where the treasure is...of course! X marks the spot! And in this spot...

X is for Xuxa!

The Brazilian children's show host Xuxa (pronounced SHOO-Sha) has been a mainstay in her country for 25+ years, and proved so popular in the late 80's/early 90's she was brought to America for a run in English, which is where I first encountered her. And once you've seen Xuxa - you're not likely to forget her.

She's blonde, and sunny, and energetic, and well... dang it, sexy. Look for yourself - here's a clip from her American show:

I just don't see the Wiggles or even the Fresh Beat Band pulling that outfit off! Here she is in another clip from something in her native language - as always, she's bouncy and vivacious.

  And more.


Xuxa has toned down a bit in the 21st century - but she's still an incredibly attractive woman even if she's not dressing like a Disney Princess by way of Frederick's of Hollywood any more.

"Y" don't you come back Monday for the penultimate post in this blogging challenge - and until then you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: W is for Katheryn Winnick!

Now, although my posts have been faithfully appearing each 24 hours (thanks, smartphone!) I have been away for the last several days - as you may have noticed when I stopped appearing each day at your blog - now I'm back - and nursing a sprained ankle - so this will probably be my most lightly worded post - but I have to tell you - you can let the pictures do the talking when

W is for Katheryn Winnick!

I first discovered Ms. Winnick in the movie Amusement - and have since gone on to track her down in anything she appears in. Here's why:

Ms. Winnick is currently appearing on the History Channel series Vikings - and has a couple of movies in the can too - here's how she appears in Vikings:

"X" will mark the spot tomorrow - do please come back for that one - and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: V is for Ve Neill!

V are in the homestretch of this April 2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge now - and it's Very cool to be able to tell you that:

V is for Ve Neill!

I first noticed the name Ve Neill associated with the copious pre-release coverage for Star Trek: The Motion Picture that was all over Starlog magazine in the months leading up to its December 1979 release. She was working in the makeup department with Fred Phillips – the original makeup artist from the series – and became one of the handful of people up to that time to put pointed Vulcan ears on Leonard Nimoy.

Spock's ears - designed and created by others, applied by Ve Neill in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

She also appeared on camera in the giant briefing scene!

Ve Neill was born Mary Flores in the early 50’s in Riverside California. She got her start in movie makeup – now using the name Ve Neill - in 1977 on Cinderella – a softcore retelling of the fairy tale directed by character actor Michael Pataki. In addition to her makeup duties, she also was credited as a hair stylist for one of only two times in her career.

Rainbeaux Smith in Cinderella (1977).

From there, she went right on working – building up an incredible resume of genre films in her first five years in the business. It’s pretty amazing how many of her films reside in my video vault, as a matter of fact.

In those five years she was a makeup artist on: (* in my video vault)

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) * (director John ‘Bud’ Cardos)

The spiders - and William Shatner's cojones - are real. The wounds on his
face? Courtesy Ve Neill.

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977) (director Larry Cohen)

Laserblast (1978) * (producer Charles Band)

The late great Kim Milford gets more than a green neck from his new
necklace in Laserblast.

Tourist Trap (1979) * (director David Schmoeller)

The creepy factor runs high in Tourist Trap.

The Dark (1979) * (director John ‘Bud’ Cardos)

The Day Time Ended (1979) * (director John ‘Bud’ Cardos)

Star Trek-The Motion Picture (1979) * (director Robert Wise)

Nine to Five (1980) *

The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) * (director John Landis)

The Sword and the Sorceror (1982) * (director Albert Pyun)

That's Bull from Night Court - Richard Moll - playing a demon -
The Sword and the Sorceror.

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) *
Slapstick (of Another Kind) (1982)

Madeline Khan and Jerry Lewis in Slapstick (of Another Kind).

Ve Neill then worked on The A-Team – doing 61 of the 97 episodes. Then she jumped right back in to movie work – and again – she got hired on one amazing movie after another: (and this is only a selected list)

The Lost Boys (1987)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Dick Tracy (1990)
Flatliners (1990)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Hook (1991)
Batman Returns (1992)

Hoffa (1992)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Ed Wood (1994)
Cobb (1994)
Batman Forever (1995)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Batman and Robin (1997)

Ve Neill has continued her incredible career into the 21st century – and her work has been recognized with several nominations and awards over the course of her career – she has won a Primetime Emmy, a Daytime Emmy, a BAFTA, and four Saturn awards. She’s also been nominated for eight Oscars, and has won three – as a part of the makeup teams for Beetlejuice, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Ed Wood.

Ve Neill is also a judge on the popular Syuh-Fyuh channel series Face Off.

She continues to work on high profile films – she did the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and most recently The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hunger Games - and she hired my makeup artist buddy Rick Pour for that one - and she’s got the sequels to both of those films under way.

An amazing talent – I would recommend checking out some of her movies – but I have a sneaking suspicion that you already have – even if you didn’t know it!

There are no good puns for “W” none that I can think of anyway – but nonetheless – please come back tomorrow for another A-Z post! Until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: U is for Una O'Connor!

U have returned for the Undisputed U post in this April 2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge - but this post is not about U - it's about someone else - because Undeniably -

U is for Una O'Connor!

If you’ve seen The Invisible Man (1933) or The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) I have no doubt you were indelibly impressed by the comic relief provided by Una O’Connor – the pub owner’s wife in the former; the Baron’s housekeeper Minnie in the latter.

The Invisible Man (1933).

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Born Agnes Teresa McGlade in Belfast Ireland in 1880, she took on the name Una O’Connor when she started acting at Dublin’s Abbey Theater. She worked for years as a stage actress in Ireland and England – then in 1930 made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder! A few years later Noel Coward cast her in his stage show Cavalcade. Conseqeuently she travelled to Hollywood to recreate her role in the film adaptation – and after that – she simply stayed in Hollywood.

Cavalcade (1933).

Director James Whale adored her and cast her in The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein – but she worked steadily in the 1930’s in films like The Informer (1935), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

The Informer (1935).

She continued working in supporting roles – often as comedy relief – throughout the 1940’s, with some of the titles including The Sea Hawk (1940), My Favorite Spy (1942), The Canterville Ghost (1944), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and Of Human Bondage (1946).

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

In the 1950’s she moved into television, working steadily through the middle of the decade. Slowing down a bit in her mid 70’s, she made her final screen appearance recreating her stage performance as a housekeeper in Billy Wilder’s movie version of Witness for the Prosecution (1957). Una O’Connor passed away in New York City in 1959 at the age of 78.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957).

While movie buffs would be likely to recognize her and celebrate her long screen career – it’s the Monster Kids who revel in her two turns in the classic Universal Studios Monster Movies.

Una O'Connor definitely believed you should go big, or go home.

“V” have finished this post together – and hopefully you’ll see your way clear to come back tomorrow for another post – until then you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: T is for Mr. T!

The twentieth A-Z blog post will fit you to a T. Oh yeah, and I pity the fool who hasn't figured out that

T is for Mr. T!

Born Laurence Tureaud in the early 50’s, the man now known as Mr. T grew up in a crime-ridden area of Chicago. He stayed mostly out of trouble due to his family and especially his relationship with his mother. After high school and a year of college – from which he was expelled – he enlisted with the Army – and did well. After his discharge, he tried out for the Green Bay Packers but did not make the cut due to a knee injury.

He then got a job as a bouncer – and it was during this period that he created the Mr. T. persona. He started wearing jewelry left in the club around his neck – so people coming back to look for it would not have to go into the club to retrieve their lost jewelry – this eventually led to T wearing 18 lbs (!) of his own gold chains around his neck. After seeing some Mandinka warriors in an issue of National Geographic he cut his hair into  a Mohawk like theirs - to show his solidarity with his African brothers.

After some years as a bouncer he moved on to being a bodyguard for such stars as Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, Leon Spinks, Joe Frazier and Diana Ross. He did that for ten years.

Working as a bodyguard - I notice his duties did not include preventing photobombing!

While he was in his late twenties, Tureaud won two tough-man competitions – both of them aired as specials on NBC. The first was called America’s Toughest Bouncer – which he won.

The second competition was titled Games People Play for whatever reason – with the same setup – various physical stunts and a concluding boxing match. The standout moment came during a prefight interview with Bryant Gumbel T said "I just feel sorry for the guy who I have to box. I just feel real sorry for him." The boxing match was supposed to be three rounds, but Mr. T took out his opponent in 54 seconds. (!) Sylvester Stallone was watching that night and eventually cast Mr. T as his main antagonist in the film Rocky III – casting Mr. T as Clubber Lang – and even wrote in a modified version of what T had told Gumbel in 1980 – when asked in the film if he hates Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character – Lang replies "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool."

After Rocky III, T was cast in another boxing sequel – Penitentiary II – and had a prime role in the ensemble comedy D.C. Cab.

DC Cab - sharing the screen with Gary Busey.

Next up was Mr. T’s high profile role in The A Team, which cast him as bruiser B.A. Baracus (B.A. stood for “Bad Attitude”).

The A Team - left to right - Dirk Benedict, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz, Mr. T.

B.A, Baracus

It was during this series run that Mr. T had his greatest popularity – and he ran with it. He signed on for an animated series for NBC’s Saturday morning lineup – Mister T – which ran for 2 seasons and 30 episodes. T provided his own voice, and appeared at the beginning of each episode in live action, and again at the end of each episode to hammer home the moral lesson for the week.

What the heck - let's throw in the opening to the cartoon show!

Mr. T even got a breakfast cereal out of the cartoon.
Suck it, Urkel-Os!

In 1984, still riding the crest of his fame – Mr. T starred in a motivational video for children called Be Somebody…Or Be Somebody’s Fool! In the hour long video T helps children how to understand and appreciate their origins, how to dress fashionably without buying designer labels, how to make tripping look like breakdancing, how to control their anger, and how to deal with peer pressure. He also treats the viewer to some singing and rapping – with one song called "Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right).” His rap – written by Ice-T - talks about growing up in the ghetto and placing your faith in God. The video sold well enough that an accompanying album was also produced.

In the mid 80’s T also jumped in to a minor wrestling career with WWE (then WWF) – teaming with Hulk Hogan for the main event against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff at the first Wrestlemania special. He continued to make sporadic appearances with WWE for the next decade.

In 1988, a year after The A Team ended – T starred in a new syndicated series – T and T – and got a three season run out of it. The series’ opening narration sets up the premise:

“T.S. Turner was a city-smart kid fighting his way off the street, until he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Amy Taler was a young crusading lawyer. She mounted an appeal to put Turner back on the street, this time in a suit and tie, working as a private detective. Together they are—T. and T.”

T and T

T.S. Turner in one of his suits.

As the 90’s progressed Mr. T’s career was slowed down to occasional guest appearances and commercials. During this period – here in Wilmington – the movie studio was looking for ways to make money using their facilities between movie productions. They decided to host a mixed martial arts/boxing tournament – with the proceedings also going out as a Pay-Per-View event. One of the soundstages was set up with a ring and seating – and the event was well attended. One of the celebrity judges was Mr. T. My friends were hired to provide any necessary makeup services for the celebrity judges – and spent the evening having a raucous good time with Mr. T – who they said was one of the friendliest, warmest, and funniest people they’d ever worked with. I was pleased to hear that, and wished I could have hung out with them that night.

Around this same time Mr. T was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma – how ironic – and spent the rest of the 90’s battling the disease. Thankfully he was successful, and as the 21st century rolled around a healthier Mr. T continued making appearances – commercials, rap videos, as a guest on WWE Raw.

In 2006 he hosted a reality series called I Pity the Fool – a six episode reality series that saw T traveling from town to town giving advice, solving problems and teaching individuals some rules of life, especially about maintaining team spirit.

In 2008 he jumped in on the celebrity cooking appliance craze – following George Foreman’s Grill – with the Mr. T Flavorwave Oven – it even had a wonderfully silly informercial that aired a lot on late night television.

In 2008 Mr. T was offered a cameo in the Big Screen A-Team movie – but unlike co-stars Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict, T turned the cameo down. Considering the film shunted Benedict and Shultz to an after- the-credits tacked-on extra bit – maybe he was right to do so.

In 2009 Mr. T provided the voice of Earl, the town policeman in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, though he did decline to return for this year’s sequel – turning the role over to Terry Crews. Mr. T’s most recent production is World’s Craziest Fools for British television - with the first season airing in 2011. Mr. T is the presenter for various video clips of people doing stupid stuff  (hence “fools” according to T). The series did well in the ratings, and a second series just finished airing in March 2013.

For a former bouncer and bodyguard –Mr. T has proven to be quite adept at re-inventing himself within his own persona, keeping a career in the public eye going strong for more than three decades. I’m a big fan and highly recommend checking out his various shows and movies – they’re good escapist fun.

I hope “U” plan to come back tomorrow for the next post – and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!