“Pretty Bubbles in the Air”
I’m forever blowing bubbles,/Pretty bubbles in the air,/They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,/Then like my dreams they fade and die./Fortune’s always hiding,/I’ve looked everywhere,/I’m forever blowing bubbles,/Pretty bubbles in the air.//I’m dreaming dreams, I’m scheming schemes,/I’m building castles high./They’re born anew, their days are few,…
No wonder Shep would sing some of the lyrics–they exemplify his philosophy.
Some of the little-known or unrealized Shep projects
Over the years, Shepherd claimed to have a play in the offing, and a movie he said he was working on as late as 1998, the year before he died. None of these has appeared. Maybe they were mere pretty bubbles.
In a major film made in 1964, Light Fantastic, Shepherd plays a dance instructor. The film, apparently released only in Europe, has not been available in the United States.
Shep plays the part of Frank, the older Dance instructor. “In this romantic drama, a plain, lonely secretary wins three dance lessons. Her handsome instructor tells her that she is quite talented and cons her into signing a long-term contract. She soon finds herself in love with him, and an affair begins. The normally cold-hearted instructor is surprised when he finds himself genuinely returning her affections. Trouble ensues when she dances with another instructor who gives her exactly the same sales pitch.” Source: IMDB – Written by Jim Sadur.
For a video documentary of 1974 that hasn’t been seen for decades Shepherd narrated “The Great American Balloon Adventure” about a ten-week tour of America in an eighty-foot balloon. And a number of other projects have been reported. Two “Fisherman’s World” videos (1969, 1970) show Shep fishing for salmon in Michigan and ice fishing in Wisconsin, with a gag showing him being served drinks on the ice by Playboy Bunnies.
In An Answer, a half-hour documentary about an early 1963 visit by President Kennedy to Naval and Marine facilities to observe military might, especially on the high sea, Shepherd gives a straight narration of what obviously was material scripted by the armed forces. That he had the opportunity to be involved must have gratified him, as in his eulogy of JFK only a half year later, he said that he had always been “a Kennedy man.”
Another film project recently uncovered is No Whistles, Bells or Bedlam. In 1972, Shepherd appeared in and narrated this half-hour film for The National Technical Institute for the Deaf. I encountered this title on the internet’s IMDB.com, and I emailed Raul daSilva who had written the description of it there. To my surprise he was the filmmaker, and he sent me a copy of it. What delights me is that such a basic attempt at contact led to a positive resolution to this little quest.
Among Shepherd’s media projects that started well but never achieved their hoped-for success was an hour television pilot he wrote and narrated, Phantom of the Open Hearth, with the same title as his earlier PBS TV drama. The pilot, for a weekly series, focuses on Ralph, shown as an incredible klutz, finding out that he was the blind date. Another segment shows his father thinking he is a smart negotiator when buying a used car, but being depicted as an utter fool. These portrayals are quite mean-spirited—not something television in those days wanted in a sit-com. Shep, your sense of “realism” got out of hand and clobbered you!
More to come
“Honey, I think you and I were wrong.”
Allison and I are enthusiasts of much (but not all) rock-and-roll. Beatles, Bruce, Holly, The Who, Stones, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and lots more, but other than “Purple Rain,” we weren’t aware of Prince’s music or what he had accomplished in the world. (We were prejudiced, in part, by what appeared to be the one-dimensional aspect of his sexually explicit self and the lack of sufficient major media attention.) With his death, we know a little more–my favorite (political) television station did four hours straight on him the day he died, my New York Times did major stuff on him (I’ve always said that if the Times didn’t do anything about a subject, it didn’t exist) and now I know just a tiny smidgen. But, though listening to a bit of his music this morning and reading about his wide-ranging genius, I still don’t know about him. But maybe I begin to have an inkling.