Thursday, January 18, 2018

RIP Jan Lowell (1926-2018)

Jan Lowell was born Jane K. Englund in Chicago, Illinois on August 23, 1926. She was an actress and screenwriter who married production manager, writer actor, Robert Mark Lowell in the mid-1950s. They had a daughter  Jodi born in 1957. Jan and Robert (Bob) were a writing team credited as J.R. Lowell. The family moved to Rome, Italy in the early 1960s and remained there for 25 years. They were part of the American colony of American actors, writers and film makers who were a major part of Italy’s film industry.

Jan said that, “our literary agent asked, "Can you guys write a western?" Well, we had learned in Hollywood you should never say no, so we said, yes, of course we can. And he said, "Well, there's this Italian named Sergio Leone, who had lifted a Japanese film and translated it" - I think it was called Ugetsu [rather, Yojimbo] - "from Japanese to Italian and then from Italian into English, and he sent it to this American TV cowboy actor, and he doesn't like it. So if you could rewrite it and make it real American, maybe we could have a deal." So we said, "All right, let us take a look at it." We were in the middle of rewriting it when they called us up and said, "Listen, we have some German money, and they have a German actress" - I think that her name was Marianne Koch - "if you could fit in a woman we can get some German money for the film." So we're writing this stupid film, really - which I felt was stupid-  and it was called “A Fistful of Dollars”, and they sent it off to this actor who my daughter at the age of three had adored because she used to sit on her rocking horse and watch Clint Eastwood on this TV show and rock up and down.

Jan goes on, “It was really hysterical. Clint said, "Hell, yeah, I'll do it," so he came to Rome and did the film. It was the greatest story of my then almost four-year-old daughter's life. He was her hero. And it was very, very funny because they said to us, "Do you want "X" amount of money upfront, or will you take a percentage of the gross?" And everybody said, "Oh my God, take the money and run!" So we took the money upfront and we ran, and needless to say, “A Fistful of Dollars” made a million dollars in Italy alone its first year. Well, a year later, we were at a hotel swimming pool club, and Clint was there, and he said to us, "I have to ask you a question." Of course by then he was a big star and we were just Hollywood writers, and he said, "Did you take the money upfront, or did you take a percentage?" We said "Honey, we took the money upfront." He said, "Yeah, so did I," and we both laughed. Of course, Clint went on to become a big actor and we went on to get a lot of writing work in Rome, because they would say "Hey, they wrote “A Fistful of Dollars”. We couldn't get a really good credit, though, because in those days in Italy you could only have one foreign name attached to a film. So it was "Clint Eastwood," and Bob got "Extra Dialogue by Mark Lowell," which really was unfair, because it was our script. But we didn't care, because we thought, "Ugh! God, it's just a piece of junk." Nobody ever thought it would take off like that, but it led to a lot of writing work.

Bob Lowell died several years ago but I just learned that Jan died on Monday Martin Luther King Day January 16, 2018 in  Boynton Beach, Florida.

The Men With No Credit ~ Bernie Fuchs (ILLUSTRATOR)

Part two of a five part series on the designers and artists who were involved with the Man With No Name ad campaign for the American release of "A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". The biographies for each man were researched and written up by Canadian Film Researcher Mike Ferguson.

By Mike Ferguson

Born Bernard Fuchs on October 29, 1932 in O'Fallon, Illinois, United States. He lost three fingers on his right hand in an industrial accident the summer after he graduated from high school. Went to the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He painted in various media and styles. Started out illustrating car advertisements for New Center Studios in Detroit. In the late 1950s, Fuchs moved to Westport, Connecticut. At the age of 30 he was named “Artist of the Year” by the Artists Guild of New York. He was the youngest person to be honored in the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Fuchs did many of the 60's celebrity portrait covers for TV Guide and later was commissioned for a series of 1998 U.S. postage stamps. Worked with fellow Westport based illustrator David Blossom, Fred Otnes, Mitchell Hooks & Ted CoConis on the "The Man with No Name" campaign (sources conflict on who did what). Fuchs drew the "This belonged to the Man with No Name" teaser posters. He died at 76, on September 17, 2009 of Esophageal cancer, in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. He was survived by his high school sweetheart Anna Lee Hesse, and their children: Cynthia, Derek, and Ellise. Fuchs can be viewed on YOUTUBE talking about his career in a piece by Tim Johnson & Ramona Bruland.

Special Birthdays

Ricardo Garibay (actor) would have been 95 today, he died in 1999.

John Clark (actor) would have been 85 today, he died in 2011.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Who Are Those Guys? ~ Bruno Carotenuto

Bruno Carotenuto was born May 8, 1941 in Rome, Italy. He is the grandson of Nello Carotenuto [1876-1937] and the son of the actor Memmo Carotenuto [1908-1980], he is the brother of actress Nennella Carotenuto and nephew of actor Mario Carotenuto [1915-1995]. Bruno began his career in the cinema in 1957 with an appearance in “Solo Dio mi fermerà” directed by Renato Polselli.

His career lasted only 10 years and encompassed on 17 films, mostly comedies and Spaghetti westerns where he was often credited as B. Carotenuto, Carol Brown, Carrol Brown. He starred in his second film, 1957’s  “Mattino di primavera directed by Giacinto Solito but was relegated to secondary and character roles afterward.

He’s probably best remembered as Antonio Baxter the son of Sheriff John Baxter in 1964’s “Fistful of Dollars”.

CAROTENUTO, Bruno (aka B. Carotenuto) [5/8/1941, Rome, Lazio, Italy -     ] – film actor, grandson of actor Nello Carotenuto (Raffaele Carotenuto) [1876-1937], son of producer, actor Memmo Carotenuto (Guglielmo Carotenuto) [1908-1980], nephew of writer, actor Mario Carotenuto [1915-1995], brother of actress Nennella Carotenuto.
The Sheriff – 1960
Fistful of Dollars – 1964 (Antonio Baxter) [as B. Carotenuto]
Massacre at Marble City - 1964 (Lopez) [as Carrol Brown]
Seven Dollars on the Red – 1966 (Rosario) [as Caroll Brown]