If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag…
Q: Who is Barry Weiss on “Storage Wars” and what is his background? He seems to know a lot of famous people and has a lot of nice toys.
A: According to his A&E biography, “since the age of 15, Barry has made a name for himself as an antique collector.” He told AOL TV last year that he was also “in the produce business for 20-25 years, and I retired about four years ago. I just was traveling around the world and enjoying life, really. The way this opportunity came along was a close friend of mine, Thom Beers, who is the creator of the show, was over one night. I don’t know, we were having a few drinks. He said he was working on something with these storage lockers, and would I like to be a part of it? And basically that’s sort of how things unfolded.” Because he has some famous friends, some viewers have assumed Weiss is a show-biz type. But he told AOL TV that “I did an interview once and I mentioned being in produce, and I think sometimes people just don’t listen and assumed it was producer.”
Q: The first time I remember seeing the actor who played John-Boy on “The Waltons” was in “The Night Gallery” or “The Twilight Zone.” He played the son of a sin eater. When did this air, and which show was it on?
A: One of the stories on the Rod Serling-hosted Night Gallery was a February 1972 installment called “Sins of the Fathers.” It involved a sin eater — someone who ate food around a dead body and so absorbed its sins. Richard Thomas, an experienced young actor, played the sin eater; he had first appeared as John-Boy Walton in the TV-movie The Homecoming in December 1971 and would begin regular series work on The Waltons in September 1972. You can find “Sins of the Fathers” on DVD in the second-season collection of Night Gallery and online on Hulu.com.
Q: Years ago I watched a tribute to John Wayne on TV and Maureen O’Hara sang to him. Is a copy of that available anywhere?
A: You are probably remembering ABC’s all-star tribute to Wayne from 1976, with Frank Sinatra hosting. O’Hara sang I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face, much of it with Wayne standing beside her. Unfortunately, I do not know of an authorized video release of the special. Wayne died in 1979. The splendid O’Hara, 91, is still with us at this writing. (By the way, she and the above-mentioned Richard Thomas worked together in the 1995 TV-movie The Christmas Box.)
Q: I want to know if “King,” the 1978 biography of Martin Luther King Jr., is available on DVD and where I can locate it.
A: The miniseries, which starred Paul Winfield as the civil-rights icon and Cicely Tyson as his wife Coretta Scott King, was released on DVD in 2005 and is available through online retailer Amazon.com,
Q: Back in the mid to late ’70s or early ’80s, I watched a movie about a man who was a furniture maker and coin collector. He was raising a teenage daughter alone. I believe someone stole a very valuable gold coin from his home. Seems to me the father was played by Steve Martin. ??????It was a very good movie but I have never seen it on television since. Could you please tell me the name of the movie, the cast and whether it was released on VHS or DVD.
A: Some of the story you remember is from Silas Marner, the George Eliot novel which has been adapted many times, including in a 1985 production starring Ben Kingsley. But I think you are remembering a later adaptation, 1994’s A Simple Twist of Fate, which in fact starred Steve Martin; the supporting cast included Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney. Both A Simple Twist of Fate and the Kingsley Silas Marner are on DVD. If your local retailer cannot provide them, I have seen them for sale on Amazon.com.
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Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and in the HeldenFiles Online blog at http://heldenfels.ohio.com and on Facebook and on Twitter.