Rock the Oscars 2019: Broncho Billy Anderson

At the 1958 Oscars, Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson received an Honorary Oscar as a motion picture pioneer.  The citation praised  his contributions to the development of motion pictures as entertainment.

Born in Little Rock in March 1880, he was the son of Esther and Henry Aronson. Both were originally from New York.  Her parents were German-Jewish immigrants and his parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants.

After working as a photographer’s assistant and model, Anderson eventually found his way to vaudeville as a performer and writer.  In 1903, he appeared in the early seminal film The Great Train Robbery in several roles.  He created the western persona of Broncho Billy in front of the cameras.  Behind the scenes, he was a studio owner and director.  Over his career, he directed over 400 films.  By the early 1920s, he retired as an actor and director and devoted himself to owning a Broadway theatre and producing stage shows.

He made occasional film appearances beginning in the 1940s.  In 1958, he appeared in a documentary about Westerns for the TV show “Wide, Wide World.”  Also featured in that special were Little Rock actors Ben Piazza and Gail Davis.  His final screen appearance was in 1965’s The Bounty Killer.  He died in 1971 at the age of 90. He had been married to his wife for sixty years at the time of his death.

Rock the Oscars: Broncho Billy Anderson

At the 1958 Oscars, GilbertM. “Broncho Billy” Anderson received an Honorary Oscar as a motion picture pioneer.  The citation praised  his contributions to the development of motion pictures as entertainment.

Born in Little Rock in March 1880, he was the son of Esther and Henry Aronson. Both were originally from New York.  Her parents were German-Jewish immigrants and his parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants.

After working as a photographer’s assistant and model, Anderson eventually found his way to vaudeville as a performer and writer.  In 1903, he appeared in the early seminal film The Great Train Robbery in several roles.  He created the western persona of Broncho Billy in front of the cameras.  Behind the scenes, he was a studio owner and director.  Over his career, he directed over 400 films.  By the early 1920s, he retired as an actor and director and devoted himself to owning a Broadway theatre and producing stage shows.

He made occasional film appearances beginning in the 1940s.  In 1958, he appeared in a documentary about Westerns for the TV show “Wide, Wide World.”  Also featured in that special were Little Rock actors Ben Piazza and Gail Davis.  His final screen appearance was in 1965’s The Bounty Killer.  He died in 1971 at the age of 90. He had been married to his wife for sixty years at the time of his death.

 

2015-16 ASO Pops includes Cirque, Broadway, Movies and Holiday Favorites

aso_2-colorThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra returns to the Connor Performing Arts Center on the Pulaski Academy campus for the 2015-2016 season.  There is still time to order your tickets.

Things get started on October 24 & 25 with “Cirque Musical.” Debuting this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, this evening will feature contortionists, balances and jugglers providing a visual feast for the eyes while the ASO will play classical and contemporary music.

From December 18 to 20, it will be “Holiday Pops with the ASO.” This long-running tradition will feature Christmas carols and other holiday songs

February 13 & 14 will be “Broadway Rocks!” Featuring Broadway stars Christiane Noll, Carpathia Jenkins and Rob Evans, this evening will feature songs from such Broadway shows as Rent, Wicked, Mamma Mia, The Lion King, The Wiz and The Phantom of the Opera.  A lot of people throw around the term “Broadway stars” but these three deserve it.  If they are in a show, they steal it!

The Pops season will conclude with “The Movie Music of John Williams” on May 7&8.  The ASO will play selections from some of Williams’ mist famous movies. He has win 5 Oscars, 6 Emmys, 25 Golden Globes and 22 Grammys.

Broadway, Movie and Holiday Music all part of Ark Symphony 2014-15 Acxiom Pops Live lineup

ASO_2-colorMusic of the Silver Screen, Great White Way and boughs of green highlight the 2014-2015 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Acxiom Pops Live! Series.

Next year is the first of their two-year hiatus from Robinson Center Music Hall (as it gets transformed into a true music hall instead of a civic gathering room).  To entice audience members to go along for the journey of the new, temporary location, ASO Music Director Philip Mann has created a lineup of spectacular music performed by powerhouse talent as well as the phenomenal musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

The Acxiom Pops Live! Series will be performed at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center.  (Think: Maumelle=Masterworks, PA=Pops)  The series will kick off on October 4 & 5 with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards.  Oscar and Emmy winner Bill Conti (who also is conductor of the Academy Awards orchestra) will lead the ASO in a celebration of songs from the movies. As a composer, Conti has won an Oscar for his score to The Right Stuff and was nominated for Rocky and For Your Eyes Only. Other movies and TV include Private Benjamin, “Dynasty,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Falcon Crest,” The Karate Kid, “North & South,” and Broadcast News.

The ASO Holiday Extravaganza is an Arkansas tradition in December.  In 2014 it will take place on December 19, 20 & 21.  It will feature Christmas carols, sing-alongs, and some of Arkansas’ outstanding musicians and singers. There are always traditional favorites and new surprises thrown in.  This will help audiences relax after completing their shopping – or take a break from the last minute shopping frenzy. (Tickets also make a great early-Christmas present, and it falls in the middle of Hanukkah and makes a wonderful present for that too.)

Another ASO tradition is the Broadway Valentine’s concert. It will take place on February 14 and 15.  The music of Broadway and Hollywood will be the framework for an evening of song and dance by Broadway vets Joan Hess and Kirby Ward. Their singing and dancing will remind audiences (or introduce younger audiences to the mastery) of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell.

The classic songs of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin have stood the test of time and are definitely timeless. The great vocalist Sylvia McNair will offer her take on these standards while accompanied by Jeffrey Biegel on piano.  This concert promises to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears because it will also feature rare video clips, family photos and state-of-the art visuals to help share the story of the Gershwins and their music.

The Pops Live! Series for 2014-2015 will conclude with Ashley Brown’s Broadway.  Miss Brown was the original Mary Poppins when the eponymously entitled musical opened on Broadway.  For her work in the production, she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League nominations. She made her Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  Backed by the ASO, she will sing Broadway favorites such as “Nothing Like a Dame,” “People,” and “Tonight” as well as Disney classics such as “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

All Acxiom Pops Live! concerts will be performed at 7:30pm on Saturday evenings and 3pm on Sunday evenings.

RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles at Robinson Center tonight

Rain Tour - A Tribute to the beatlesThough there is only one Fab Four — a quartet of singing musicians will be on stage of Robinson Center Music Hall tonight to pay tribute to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES is a live multi-media spectacular that takes you on a musical journey through the life and times of the world’s most celebrated band. Going further than before, this new RAIN adds even more hits that you know and love from the vast anthology of Beatles classics such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together” and “Hey Jude.”

This stunning concert event takes you back in time with the legendary foursome delivering a note-for-note theatrical event that is the next best thing to the Beatles. Don’t miss the Broadway smash that’s taking the world by storm…RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES.

Ticketing phone: 501-244-8800

Group Sales phone: 501-492-3311

Box Office (where to buy in person):

To purchase tickets in person for RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles at the Robinson Center Music Hall

Little Rock Ticket Office
300 S. Spring Street, Suite 100
Little Rock, AR 72201

Ben Piazza focus of Old State House Brown Bag program

piazza“Ben Piazza: Becoming the American Dream” is the title of a discussion at the Old State House today at 12 noon.

Piazza was a Little Rock native who starred on Broadway as well as appeared in movies and TV from the 1950s through the 1990s. Throughout his career he acted with Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Robert DeNiro, Cher, Dan Akroyd, John Belushi and Walter Matthau among others.   Ben was also a friend of playwright Edward Albee and appeared in many of his plays throughout the 1960s, including The American Dream and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

During his career Ben saw seismic shifts in the acting profession.  He experienced the theatrical, TV and movie industries turned on their heads because of radical changes which few could have foreseen.

This discussion looks at Ben Piazza’s life and career as Broadway and Hollywood underwent drastic changes in the second half of the 20th Century.  It also discusses his career as a writer – most notably the novel The Exact and Very Strange Truth and the Off Broadway play Lime Green/Khaki Blue.

The program is being held in conjunction with the Old State House Museum’s exhibit Lights! Camera! ARKANSAS!