August 1, 2010

Tales from unforgettable stars

A local radio host gets screen legends and film experts to tell stories of Hollywood's golden era.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — Ernest Borgnine, in his 90s, still gives a lively interview and is glad to share stories about his 60-year career in Hollywood.

click image to enlarge

Dick Dinman of Scarborough, a former TV and film actor and casting director, started his weekly radio show on WMPG to pay respect to the stars of classic movies.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

INSIDER KNOWLEDGE

DICK DINMAN’S weekly half-hour radio show, “DVD Classics Corner on the Air,” is broadcast at 1 p.m. Friday on WMPG (90.9 FM).

THE SHOWS are archived online, so you can search for past shows. To see a list of shows, go to www.wmpg.org and search the audio archives for “DVD Classics Corner on the Air.”

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT TOO

ALTHOUGH Dick Dinman is not affiliated with the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable network, it does create a special monthly page on its website (www.tcm.com) devoted to Dinman’s show, including a link to the show’s WMPG page (www.wmpg.org).

Who knew?

Dick Dinman, a Scarborough resident who has made interviewing stars of Hollywood's glory days part of his weekly routine, that's who. For the past five years, he's hosted "DVD Classics Corner on the Air," a half-hour show on Portland community radio station WMPG (90.9 FM) at the University of Southern Maine.

His show has caught the attention of classic movie buffs at Turner Classic Movies (TCM). TCM and Dinman are not affiliated in any way, but the network creates a special monthly page on its website (www.tcm.com) devoted to Dinman's show, including a link to the show's WMPG page.

So movie fans around the world have access to Dinman's shows. And they now know that Borgnine -- as well as a host of other old-time stars -- are still kicking and still talking.

"He was just one of the nicest guys I've talked to, and still sounded great," said Dinman, who interviewed Borgnine around the time of his 92nd birthday last year. "He was really happy to talk, and had some great stories to tell."

Some other stars of yore Dinman has interviewed for his show include Karl Malden, Betty Garrett, Tony Curtis, Jane Russell, Peter Graves and Arlene Dahl.

Not all of the names are recognizable to people today, but all were major stars or parts of major films.

Dinman worked for many years in Hollywood, first acting in TV and films and later as a casting director. As an actor, he had supporting roles on such 1970s TV dramas as "Mannix," "Columbo," "Cannon" and "Kojak." Being well-connected in Hollywood helps him get his interviews.

Dinman was born in London and grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., idolizing the matinee idols of the past.

As a teenager, he moved to Hollywood after being awarded an acting scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Because he loved old movies, he often found himself befriending or meeting stars of the past, such as silent-movie actor Harold Lloyd, whom Dinman regards as a mentor.

So when he left Hollywood to come to Maine (to care for his mother), Dinman started his radio show. Not as a way to make money, but as a way to show his love and respect to Hollywood legends.

While writing about his show, Dinman said, in part, "I'd probably say that it's a Valentine to a golden era of screen entertainment that is unfortunately gone with the wind on our cinema screens, but thankfully alive, well and thriving with the advent of home video and the cable channels that broadcast these classics."

The shows usually focus on a star or theme based on a new DVD of a classic film coming out. They also feature interviews with people involved in filmmaking, relatives of stars, and interviews with stars from other sources.

He often interviews experts on classic films, including TCM's Robert Osborne.

But the real treat of the shows is hearing the stars talk.

Borgnine, who won an Oscar for "Marty" in 1955 and is known to TV audiences for "McHale's Navy," told stories to Dinman on air like he was weaving tales over drinks to old buddies.

One was about an unassuming young chap he knew in the old days who was always hanging around Hollywood studios, "looking for a hand-out, didn't have two nickels to rub together. But he went on to become one of the richest men in the business."

When he gets to the punchline, Borgnine reveals the guy was Aaron Spelling. Way before he became a tycoon TV producer.

And during his interview, Borgnine seemed to recognize what Dinman was trying to do -- help keep the names and stories of Hollywood's golden days alive.

"Thank you very much," Borgnine said. "I appreciate this."

 

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