By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Jan. 20, 2003 at 7:21 PM
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Richard Crenna, the multi-talented child star who went on to become an award-winning actor, has died. He was 76. For a generation of baby boomers, Crenna was the long-suffering son of poor farmer Walter Brennan in the 1950s TV hit "The Real McCoys." But long before that, starting at age 10, Crenna was proving to be one of the nation's most talented actors. It was during the run of "Our Miss Brooks" -- initially on radio, opposite Eve Arden, just after the World War II, and then on television -- that Crenna distinguished himself. He played Walter Denton, the love-sick teenager enamored with the principal's daughter. He was a confidant of Constance Brooks (Arden), the English teacher. He was able to bring the acting ability of a seasoned performer to the role of a teenager and carry it off, squeaky voice and all, with great believability. Later, after "The Real McCoys" went on off the air, he turned to directing TV shows. He had learned the craft during the final seasons of "McCoys," directing some of those episodes. He would appear in "Wait Until Dark," "The Sand Pebbles," "The Flamingo Kid" and in "Rambo." Along the way he earned a legion of fans and tons of awards, including the Emmy. His next door neighbor, Janet Waldo -- famous for being the voice of Judy Jetson -- once told United Press International that Crenna was one of the nicest men in Hollywood. Most recently Crenna had been Tyne Daly's love interest in "Judging Amy." That role was put on the back burner while Crenna fought cancer -- a fight he lost over the weekend. (Another member of the cast of "The Real McCoys" died in recent months. Tony Martinez, who played the Mexican hired hand Pepino, died this past fall.)


The foreign press awards, the Golden Globes, have honored Hollywood's best, in what some see as a preview of the Oscars. Among the honorees was venerable director Martin Scorsese, given the award as best director for "Gangs of New York." Best drama award went to "The Hours." That movie's Nicole Kidman captured the best actress Globe. Jack Nicholson, for his role in "About Schmidt," was named best actor. Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger won "best in" roles for their parts in the musical "Chicago." That romping, dazzling effort also won the best musical or comedy category. Supporting players Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper were honored for their roles in "Adaptation." It was the 60th annual event for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which also honored American television, giving Globes to "The Shield," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Sopranos." The buzz after the event was the number of awards given to "Chicago." Some say that the musical movie is about to make a comeback.


The sheriff of Mayberry, Andy Griffith, has been given a special award by the country music fraternity in Nashville. According to CMT, Griffith was in Music City to begin work on a Christmas album for next year. While there, a special reception was given in his honor. Hundreds came in out of a cold Nashville night to honor a man who has become an icon in American television. Best known, of course, for his roles on "The Andy Griffith Show" and on "Matlock," Griffith is also an accomplished musician. He began his career as a stand-up comedian, with much of his work recorded and sent to music stores. (Remember "What it Was Was Football?" from the early 1950s?) He also was in several very funny movies early in his career -- and some gut-wrenching roles. On hand to honor Griffith was the mayor of Nashville, Bill Purcell, and real-life Sheriff Daron Hall of Davidson County. A highlight of the evening was Griffith's recitation of a special Christmas story that will be included in the new album. The CD is being produced by Marty Stuart, who also served as host for the event. Griffith is now 76.


More high-profile stars are taping spots that will be seen when Oakland and Tampa Bay square off this coming weekend. The latest are Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr. The duo, according to, has taped a song called "Are You Ready for the Super Bowl." They did the session in a Detroit studio. The tape will be aired (to the world's biggest television audience) just before the kickoff. As we mentioned some time ago, Willie Nelson will appear in a spot for H&R Block. That's ironic, considering his well-publicized "problems" in past years with the Internal Revenue Service. With Shania Twain entertaining at half-time, Tim McGraw appearing in a "designated driver" ad and the Dixie Chicks singing the national anthem, the game may not be the highlight of the day.


Depending upon which source you use, New York's Michael Bloomberg did or did not want the Stones cited for smoking at a concert. The New York Post says that there are reports that his honor was so angry that the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and Ron Wood would smoke on stage that he prepared to issue them citations. He was reportedly angry enough at their violation of the city's no-smoking rules to take the action, but did not want to interrupt their performance. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the mayor discounts the story. The Post claims that the original story came from Matt Drudge. But it's well known that Bloomberg is not only a no-smoking advocate he is nearly manic about doing away with smoking. At least, as the publication notes, despite their advancing years, the Stones are still able to cause a commotion.


The Nitty Gritty Dirt band is preparing a video version of its popular "Unbroken" recording series. According to published reports, the group has enlisted Alison Krauss, Rosanne Cash and Vince Gill to join in a taping of some of the songs from the band's highly successful anthology recordings. Also tapped to participate are Robbie and Ronnie McCoury, Earl and Randy Scruggs, Jerry Douglas and Vassar Clements, Iris Dement and John Hiatt. The main studio in the old Grand Ole Opry building in downtown Nashville will be used for the taping. PBS will air the sessions later this year.


Again we have a question submitted by a frequent reader: "How do you deal with the increasing flood of Internet "spam" arriving every day?" Put SPAM in the subject line and send to via the Internet. (Our apologies to Hormel.)


Last week we asked how often the family gathers for the evening meal. From a random dip into the e-mail inbox, here are the results. Sadly, only about 15 percent of respondents noted that there was the usual "family" meal in the evening. The majority noted that everyone seems to go it alone and a true communal meal only takes place at the holidays. TOMORROW: More of your thoughts.

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