DCS: bruce geller

As a psychology major at Yale University, Bruce Geller discovered his real calling — theater.

He started his career writing scripts for shows on the fledgling DuMont Television Network in the early 1950s. He also tried his hand at writing librettos for several musicals, none of which were successful. Looking for better opportunities, he left his native New York City for Los Angeles. This proved to be a move in Bruce’s favor. Soon, he was writing scripts for a number of popular Western TV series, including Zane Grey Theater, Rawhide, Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rifleman. He was given a co-producer credit for the 1964-65 season of Rawhide.

With the job security that Rawhide provided, Bruce began developing another kind of series. In 1966, he conceived, wrote, directed and produced the ultra-suave and often complicated TV series Mission: Impossible. The show, known for its iconic “self-destructing” tape player, ran for seven seasons on CBS, garnering over two dozen Emmy nominations. Bruce himself was awarded two Emmys.

In 1967, one year after Mission: Impossible premiered, Bruce wrote, directed and produced another hit series — Mannix starring Mike Connors as the title tough private investigator. Sometimes focusing of socially-relevant issues, Mannix was recognized with over a dozen Emmy nominations in the course of its eight season network run.

Bruce made his only venture into feature films in 1973, directing and producing James Coburn and Walter Pidgeon in the pickpocket caper Harry in Your Pocket. This was one of the last films in Pidgeon’s illustrious career.

Bruce developed an interest in flight, specifically small aircraft. In 1974, he was killed when the twin-engine Cessna Skymaster, in which he was a passenger, ran into fog and crashed near Santa Barbara, California. He was 47 years old.



DCS: herbert zipper

Shortly after the 1938 annexation of Austria by the Nazis, Herbert Zipper and two of his brothers were sent to Dachau concentration camp. Despite the horribly adverse conditions, Herbert volunteered for demeaning jobs, where he could steal wood and other materials to make musical instruments for himself and his fellow prisoners. He assembled a small, secret orchestra that performed for the other inmates. Herbert composed “Dachau Song,” which was performed in secret and eventually would find its way to other camps.

Through his father’s persistence, Herbert was released in 1939. He was offered the position of conductor of the Manila Symphony Orchestra in the Philippines, which he accepted. He was imprisoned once again when the Japanese army invaded the Philippines. He was released after four months. After his release, he worked secretly for the Allies, transmitting shipping information by radio.

In 1946, Herbert emigrated to the United States. He became an advocate for music education, teaching at several respected schools in Chicago and in Southern California. He remained active until his death in 1997 at age 92.



DCS: anthony newley and connie kreski

Anthony Newley was a talented, versatile actor, singer and songwriter. As a teenager, he was the star of a popular British film serial. This part led to a featured role in a 1946 film production of Oliver Twist, placing him as “The Artful Dodger” alongside Alec Guinness as “Fagin.” Later, he topped the British charts with recordings of the Lloyd Price tune “Personality” and “Why,” originally a hit for Frankie Avalon. He earned multiple Tony nominations for the musical Stop the World — I Want to Get Off. Anthony co-wrote the libretto, the songs and starred in the show on the London Stage, as well as its Broadway run. He won a Grammy in 1963 for “What Kind of Fool Am I,” the song he introduced as the show’s finale. He followed his success with another favored musical — The Roar of the Greasepaint — The Smell of the Crowd. He appeared in dozens of movies, including a co-starring part in Dr. Doolittle. In addition he co-wrote the title song for the James Bond film Goldfinger and all the songs for the beloved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In 1970, Universal Pictures sunk half a million dollars into new musical from the golden pen of wunderkind Anthony Newley. The film — Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? — was a self-indulgent, psychedelic mish-mash that proved to be a financial and critical failure for the studio. With Anthony as producer, director, music director, composer and star, he led the cast down a confusing road of fantasy-charged, sexually-rampant, nonsensical scenarios for a bewildering 107 minutes. Due to its content, the movie was given an “X” rating and a lot of newspapers refused to carry its advertising for that reason.

In the very loose autobiographical film, Anthony plays the titular “Heironymus Merkin,” a respected musical performer approaching middle age and questioning his relevance as presented in a series of erotic production numbers. He cast his his then-wife Joan Collins as the suggestively-named “Polyester Poontang,” Milton Berle as a dapper devil-like character called “Goodtime Eddie Filth” and George Jessel as an unnamed messenger from Heaven. Rounding out the cast was 22-year old Connie Kreski, as the “Mercy Humppe” mentioned in the film’s elongated title. Hand-picked by Anthony on recommendation by his pal Hugh Hefner, Connie was making her film debut. Her only previous “before the camera” experience was posing nude in Playboy, earning the title of 1969’s “Playmate of the Year.” The film was fraught with innuendo and overt symbolism, weird sets and outlandish costumes and featured Anthony taking on the dual role as main character and the film’s on-screen director, depicted in harlequin makeup and often breaking the “fourth wall.” Joan Collins noted in her 1978 memoir that this film was a major factor in her divorce from Anthony Newley.

Despite the film’s miserable performance, Anthony remained active. He was often seen on television, variety shows, special programming, night clubs and even an appearance on the popular game show Hollywood Squares. He continued to write songs and ideas for musicals. He was working on a musical take on Richard III when he died of renal cancer in 1999 at the age of 67.

Connie Kreski enjoyed a modestly successful acting career, with roles in a few films and episodic television. She was close friends with actress Sharon Tate and was devastated by her brutal murder. Connie wrote a lovely heartfelt memorial piece about Tate for the Detroit Free Press. Connie passed away in 1995 from a previously undetected blockage in her carotid artery. She was 48 years old.



DCS: john glascock

While on tour in 1974 with his band Carmen, bassist John Glascock met charismatic Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson. Carmen opened a few shows for Tull on their War Child tour and John Glascock was beside himself. He was a big fan of the band and meeting Anderson and his crew was like meeting royalty.

Fan favorite bassist Jeffrey Hammond left Jethro Tull just after the band toured in support of Minstrel in the Gallery. John was recruited to join Tull as Hammond’s replacement. It was a dream come true. He played on their 1976 concept album Too Old to Rock and Roll (Too Young to Die). He also provided harmony vocal, something that was missing on all previous Jethro Tull releases.

John contributed to Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses and several tracks on Stormwatch. It was during the promotional tour for Heavy Horses that John’s health became an issue. A known defect in a heart valve was aggravated by John’s aggressive “party” lifestyle. He was a heavy drinker and a heavy user of marijuana. A doctor’s diagnosis was ignored, despite a warning that an unrelated infection in an abscessed tooth could be detrimental.

Three years to the day of his debut with Jethro Tull, John Glascock played his last show in May 1979. Later that year, he passed away from complications attributed to the infection. John was 28 years old. After Ian Anderson broke the sad news to his bandmates, John’s long-time friend, drummer Barriemore Barlow, announced his plans to leave the band.

Stormwatch proved to be the final Jethro Tull album to feature the so-called “classic” line-up. Anderson fired the entire roster, save for guitarist Martin Barre. The bass parts that were scheduled to be played by John Glascock were covered by Anderson himself.