"CONFESSIONS..." is a selection of the Cream of the Crop of Little Joe's columns that were published in two Southwest Florida newspapers, the Islander, a Breeze publication owned by Ogden Newspapers and The News-Press, a Gannett newspaper. News-Press readers elected Joe "Best Columnist of Southwest Florida Runner-up, 2007."
Most of the columns focus on Hollywood Celebrities like Dirty Harry's alter ego, Clint Eastwood; Hollywood writer Sydney Skolsky; Movie Sex Goddess Jayne Mansfield; dear friend Telly "Kojak" Savalas; Cheers Bartender Nick "Coach" Colosanto; Kung Fu's Philip Ahn; Top 40 Countdown KingCasey Kasem; Screen Beauties Connie Stevens, Stephanie Powers, Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland; Comic Icon Red Skelton; the Comedy Team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara; Tony Curtisand Larry Storch. Also meet a not-so-reclusive Howard Hughes! And everyone will certainly enjoy an intimate look at the life of Character Actor Paul J. Micale, Little Joe's father, who with more than a hundred Movie & TV credits is best remembered as Father Carmine in the Rocky series of movies that starred Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire and Bert Young.
Charles Fox-Killing Me Softly
"Killing Me Softly With His Song." "I Got a Name." "Ready to Take a Chance Again." The themes from "Love, American Style," "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley" and "The Love Boat."
What do these songs have in common?
They all came from the melodic mind of Charles Fox, who, for the past half-century, has composed more than 100 motion picture and TV scores, ballets and classical works. The two-time Emmy Award winner, Grammy winner and two-time Oscar nominee recalls his successful career in his new autobiography, aptly titled "Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music," which comes out next week.
At 69, the soft-spoken Fox certainly isn't resting on his laurels. He and frequent collaborator Hal David last week introduced "90210 Beverly Hills," the official theme song of the city.
"The mayor asked us to write it," says Fox, relaxing on a recent Saturday afternoon in his memorabilia- and award-filled music studio at his Encino house.
Just last week in Gdansk, Poland, he conducted a new composition written to commemorate the 200th birthday of Chopin.
He also penned the music and appears in the new documentary "100 Voices - A Journey Home," playing on 500 screens around the country for one night only on Sept. 21, about the personal stories and musical performances of a group of Jewish cantors and Fox, who traveled last year to Poland, the birthplace of cantorial music.
Born in the Bronx, Fox got his first professional start at age 15, playing in a band at a hotel in the Catskills. He attended and graduated from the High School of Music and Arts in New York City, then at 18 traveled to France to study for a few years at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau with the famed Nadia Boulanger, the influential composer, conductor and teacher.
"So many people asked me about her," he says. "She had an extraordinary ability to go into the heart and soul of each composer."
Fox collaborated with lyricist Norman Gimbel on his best-known hits including "I Got a Name" and "Killing Me Softly."
"I Got a Name," which was a big hit for the late Jim Croce, was written for the 1973 Jeff Bridges film "The Last American Hero."
"We played the song for Jim Croce over the phone," Fox says. "He said 'I would like to do it,' because it brought him closer to his father who died at a young age before he was able to fulfill his own dreams." (Sadly, Croce died in a small commercial plane crash before "I Got a Name" was even released.)
The same year Fox and Gimbel wrote "I Got a Name," they scored a huge international hit with "Killing Me Softly," recorded by Roberta Flack. It won three Grammys: song of the year, record of the year and female pop vocal. But Flack wasn't the first to record the haunting ballad; Lori Lieberman first sang it in 1971.
He and Gimbel had recorded nine of their songs with Lieberman when Capitol Records called and told them they really wanted to release the album as soon as possible. But they needed another song. "Norman had a book with some titles and thoughts of lyrics and he had this title, 'Killing Me Softly With His Song,' " Fox says.
"He wrote the lyric that day, called me at the end of the day and read me the lyric over the phone," he says. "I wrote the music that night and the next day we got together with Lori and she loved it."
Because she was a new artist, the album didn't get a lot of promotion but received ample airplay as part of music programming on American Airlines, which is where Flack first heard it. She got in touch with Quincy Jones to find out how to connect with Fox. He said he soon got a call one day saying, " 'This is Roberta Flack. We haven't met but I am going to record your song.' "
The song was a hit everywhere. And the song became another major hit in 1993 thanks to the Fugees' recording. Notes Fox: "It brought a whole new generation to the song."