Sunday, January 4, 2015

Edgar Kennedy Show Update

Edgar Kennedy is a superb character actor and comedian who started with Mack Sennett and is one of the original Keystone Kops. Today he is most famous for his part as the street merchant in the Marx Bros. DUCK SOUP, and as Kennedy the Cop in numerous late-silent/early talkies with Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang and the Boy Friends series at Hal Roach Studios. Edgar turns up in many A-classics of the 1930s and 40s such as SAN FRANCISCO, A STAR IS BORN, SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK and UNFAITHFULLY YOURS.

With Dot Farley and William Eugene in "Lemon Meringue" (1931)
Every year from 1931 and the release of the now-lost LEMON MERINGUE short to 1948, RKO released six Edgar two-reelers for a total of 103. On top of this he had the same "Family" and supporting cast from beginning to end. This included Florence Lake as Edgar's ditzy wife, Dot Farley as his nagging mother-in-law and a brother-in-law played by William Eugene and later Jack Rice. In the late 30s when these actors were busy elsewhere, RKO experimented with Vivien Oakland as Edgar's wife and Bill Franey as Vivien's father. Then they returned to the original family format. This series in which audiences came to know and love a family year after year essentially established the television sit-com format that became TROUBLE WITH FATHER, MY LITTLE MARGIE, I LOVE LUCY and is still with us today.

Virtually every film fan loves Edgar Kennedy, and yet few are aware of or have seen many of his "Average Man" series for RKO. The big news is that most of them are screamingly hilarious even today. We invite you to watch many of them at the Edgar Kennedy website and see for yourself.
Ed & Family in "I'll Build It Myself" (1946)

Me and my partners Bob Campbell and Derek Myers have been trying to tell the world about Edgar's 103 RKO shorts for several years. Our ultimate plan is to bring these Edgar shorts to TV and DVD audiences in "The Edgar Kennedy Show." We tried premature campaigns to raise funds on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2013. We have an active Facebook page. In November and December we picked up over 100 Likes on Facebook, so online audiences continue to find us and help spread the news to other Edgar fans. We know there are thousands of film fans who do love Edgar and would love to see his RKO shorts.

The Library  of Congress holds original 35mm negatives and positive prints on 88 of the Edgar RKOs. These were contributed in the late 1950s. We are in touch with the donor who can OK our use of the prints. Of course transferring 35mm material to video is a costly endeavor. We also have original 16mm prints that were widely run on TV in the 1950s and 60s. You can view many at the website. These 16mm prints can be transferred to high def digital format today with excellent results.

The exact format "The Edgar Kennedy Show" might take has not yet been determined. Most Edgar shorts run from 17 to 20 minutes. Our initial idea was to create 24-min episodes to fit a 30-min commercial TV time slot, with the extra time devoted to brief original segments showcasing Edgar's brilliant career and rich film legacy. Again, a noble but costly idea.

So we begin the new year 2015 in fresh pursuit of a viable broadcast or webcast partner and home video affiliation. In the short run and a quite logical goal, we would like to persuade Turner Classic Movies to program an Edgar Kennedy day tribute and include 8 or 12 of the RKO shorts that we can provide. TCM could include some of the Hal Roach shorts that feature Edgar, plus Edgar's feature films that they already have in their library. Author of the Edgar biography, Bill Cassara, could appear with Robert Osborne to discuss the films. This could easily fill a day of Edgar.

Here is a short video to introduce the "Edgar Kennedy Show."


Please share this video with any online friends. Visit Edgar and Like him on Facebook. Visit the Edgar Kennedy website for more information and view many of Edgar's RKO shorts.

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