#121: That Famous Relativity II

121.1  This is a followup to #40…as my collection of little-known relatives of show business celebrities was starting to pile up! Now if I told you Marilyn Monroe had a sister who was also an actress, you’d be plenty surprised, I’d bet. Well, she didn’t…but Brigitte Bardot did! 4 years younger, Marie-Jeanne used the professional name Mijanou Bardot, a childhood nickname.


She appeared in only a handful of movies, the last in 1970…most notably the 1960 comedy Sex Kittens Go to College…along with Mamie Van Doren, Tuesday Weld, Louis Nye, Martin Milner, Conway Twitty, John Carradine, Jackie Coogan, Norman “Woo Woo” Grabowski, Vampira, and bit parts by Charles Chaplin Jr., Harold Lloyd Jr, and Buni Bacon, who would go on to be the trainer of Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion….hellava cast, nez pah? According to the Internet Movie Data Base she’s still alive, still married to Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau, who’s best known as Scarpine in A View to a Kill, and more recently as a regular on The Pretender and a guest appearance as Dr. Chase’s father on House.


121.2  Another younger sibling I doubt you ever heard of is Bobby Valli, Frankie’s singing brother. And I mean really younger, by 15 years. They were born in Newark with the last name Castellucio…in fact, little brother went by the name Bobby Castelle early on, while his brother was still Frankie Valley…eventually changed by his record label to Valli after a country singer Texas Jean Valli. Bobby’s professional resume, with all due respect, seems to be very well-padded if you catch my drift…never associated with any hit records or groups that I can confirm…altho he apparently makes a good living today on the nostalgia circuit, and God bless.


121.3  What I find interesting is when a family member changes their name, becomes a big star, then somebody else in the family changes their name to the same thing. I guess it depends on how the issue sits “all in the family,” you know? Like Pat Costello, older brother of Lou Costello. They were born into the Cristillo family in Patterson…yup, more Jersey Boys. Pat worked mostly behind the scenes, first as a stunt man, then a TV producer. And altho 4 years older than Lou, Pat outlived his younger brother by 30 years…Lou died of a heart attack in 1959 at age 53…see today’s Wicked Ballsy. Above is a rare on-screen appearance from the 1948 movie Mexican Hayride, where Pat plays a plainclothes detective on the trail of Lou, bottom right.


121.4  But it’s funny about names…take Monkee Mickey Dolenz. You might not realize he was the child star…as Corky… of the 1950s TV show Circus Boy…because at the time he was billed Mickey Braddock. He had a couple of other TV roles under that name, but was Mickey Dolenz in 1964 when he appeared on an episode of Mr. Novak…a year after the death of his father, actor George Dolenz at age 55. George’s family immigrated from Italy in the 1920s, and he hooked up with RKO and Howard Hughes in the 1940s. George Dolenz is best remember for the adventure series The Count of Monte Cristo…who I’ll bet would have really worn gloves like that…sure…why you so cynical all the time?


121.5  One brother who kept the family name was Richard “Dick” Yarmy…an actor and comedian who died in 1992. You know his older brother, Don Adams…born Donald Yarmy. Their father was a Hungarian Jew, their mother an Irish Catholic…Uncle Wiki says Don was raised Catholic, Dick Jewish. Sounds a little fishy to me since they also had a sister…what was she, a Hindu? Other sources merely say both parents were disowned by their families for marrying outside their faith, which makes more sense. For a short while Don called himself Don Young, as part of a comedy duo the Young Brothers with Jay Storch, brother of Don’s childhood buddy Larry Storch, who went by the name of Jay Lawrence. Did Don and Dick ever work together? Yeah, he pops up on a couple episodes of Get Smart…big surprise…as do the Storch brothers.

doug autry

121.6  Now the obvious question here is whether unknown relatives were trying to latch onto the coattails of their famous family members. And it happened, never more blatantly perhaps than the case of Gene Autry’s younger brother Dudley “Doug” Autry. Doug was in Gene’s band in the 1940s, but his problems with the bottle caused Gene to ask his friend Pee Wee King to take Doug off his hands…notice in the photo above, Minnie Pearl was with them at the time. Eventually, Doug drifted to the Dailey Brothers circus…sounds like Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, doesn’t it?…where he was touted under the banner “Autry Rides Again!” until Gene took legal action. Doug died in 1962 at age 43.


121.7  But in the end, talent is going to trump family connections. Consider the case of the Hickman brothers. Darryl Hickman (bottom row) was the child star of the family…by the time he turned 21 in 1952, he had been in over 50 movies, starting at age 7, and most memorably in The Grapes of Wrath at age 9. Dwayne Hickman (top row), 3 years younger, had been in about 20 movies when in 1955 he was cast as Bob Cummings’ nephew on the TV series Love That Bob!  After 5 successful seasons, he did another 4 years in the title role of Dobie Gillis…while nothing much came Darryl’s way. Altho interestingly, during the first season of Gillis, Darryl was cast as Dobie’s older brother Davey…but he was away at college most of the time studying ornithology, and appeared in only 3 episodes, then never again…shades of Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days.

121.8  And in the 4th and final season, Bobby Diamond…Joey Newton on Fury…did 7 episodes as cousin Duncan “Dunky” Gillis…well, he was “Bob” Diamond by then. But from the 1960s on, the Hickman brothers found acting opportunities scarce and both became involved in the production end of the business. And it’s Darryl BTW you may have seen on talk shows in recent years, discussing the joys and pitfalls of child stardom. But in the end, Dwayne had something that Darryl didn’t…just that simple.


121.9  By all accounts, Johnny Carson was very close to his younger brother Dick Carson. Dick won 5 Emmys, directing The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and over 4000 episodes of Wheel of Fortune. He even directed and made a cameo appearance in an episode of Get Smart…which just happened to have been written by Don Adams’ sister Gloria Yarmy Burton. Then we have the late irrepressible Louis Prima…his son Louis Prima, Jr….by his second wife Gia Maione… makes his living these days recreating his dad’s wild Las Vegas act…wonder what Pop would think of the earrings?….zooma zooma!  

lesbrown 1

121.10  But speaking of Juniors, here’s one that even trivia buffs get wrong: A singing group called the Wellingtons did the theme to Gilligan’s Island…and also appeared regularly on Shindig!  But Les Brown Jr., son of the famous band leader, was not a member of the Wellingtons. He began touring with his father at age 15 as a drummer and “boy singer”…and later had many bit parts as an actor, eventually talking over the leadership of the Band of Renown in 2001.

lesbrown 2

The confusion arises from the Gilligan episode titled “Don’t Bug the Mosquitos,” their take on the Beatles. The Wellingtons played the Mosquitos, but they were a trio and needed a drummer, so that was Les Brown Jr., as seen above. But now who’s the girl sharing his hotdogs? I’ll tell you next week…look hard and think on it, dear friends…

wicked ballsy


Jonathan Joseph “Candy” Candido was from New Orleans and rose to fame as a bass-player and comedic singer with Ted Fio Rito’s big band. He was also a voice expert in the Mel Blanc vein, with an astonishing range, high to low. He had worked with Abbott and Costello in several movies, and when Lou suddenly died in 1959, Bud teamed up with Candy in 1960. They toured the country, including Las Vegas…their act was for the most part reprising old A&C routines and got good reviews, but Bud’s heart wasn’t in it, and he broke it up after a about a year.


But here’s what I want to know…how come they’re called Gianni & Pinotto in Italy? Gianni is a form of John, sure, but Bud was born William…and why wouldn’t you just use their actual names? Any paisans got a clue?


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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