Blue Heron Television
A Night With Johnny Duncan
(Filmed live at the historic Athens Theatre in DeLand, Florida)
Blue Heron International Pictures announced that Daytona Beach Director Gary Lester has completed filming the company's first half-hour television production -- A Night With Johnny Duncan. The DVD was released March 5, 2010 and premiered at the Treasure Coast International Film Festival.
Johnny Duncan with Director Gary Lester
The production features vintage movie icon Johnny Duncan, Batman's original Robin.
"We filmed his farewell performance Friday night, November 13, at the historic Athens Theatre in DeLand, Florida," said Lester.
The Athens Theatre
"Since he turned 86 in December 2009, Johnny decided it was time to bid his fans a public farewell. He is now officially retired."
Johnny fascinates the fans
Lester mounted a three camera production, covering both the farewell performance and audience reactions after the show.
"We had the best production team possible for this extremely important moment in Hollywood history." said Lester.
"Our cinematographer, Dave Karner, is a graduate of the USC School of Motion Picture Production, and you could tell he was a real pro.
I was fascinated while watching him make the fans feel at ease as he filmed audience reaction interviews after the show."
Blue Heron cinematographer David Karner captures a moment with the fans
PBS celebrity Charlie Carlson, kept the show running on stage as emcee.
"Charlie had the audience in stitches. Everyone was expecting a very dramatic show, and Charlie comes on in a fancy white sport-coat sweeping the stage with a broom," said Lester.
Carlson also told the audience. it was his first time back on the Athens stage in almost 50 years.
In 1963, he worked as a stooge for nationally famous magician Harry Wise. Carlson paid tribute to Wise, who was unable to attend the performance due to extremely poor health. Wise passed away the following week, unaware of the recognition given to him at The Athens.
Carlson is currently appearing on PBS in his newest television show, Weird Florida: Roads Less Traveled.
"Johnny mesmerized the audience with stories about his Hollywood adventures, and teaching Lana Turner how to dance the Lindy," said Carlson.
Johnny (L) with real-life western badman Al Jennings (C)
"We then showed episode six of the 1949 serial Batman & Robin, followed by Gene Autry's Trail to San Antone."
Johnny as Robin, in Batman & Robin, 1949
"Johnny starred in both films, both are his favorites, and it was great to see him live on stage and then see his movies. He's not only a great actor, but a real people person as well," Carlson added.
Johnny romancing leading lady June Carlson in Delinquent Daughters
In addition to playing the original Robin with Robert Lowery as Batman, Duncan appeared with all of the Hollywood greats in the studio heydays. He socialized with Humphrey Bogart, who he worked with in three films, and lived next door to Audie Murphy.
Johnny pleases the fans
Besides teaching Marlon Brando how to ride motorcycles, Duncan also performed 'saddle falls' for Michael Landon on Bonanza. He also appeared as one of the East Side Kids in several movies with Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall.
Johnny's wife Susan helps keep the photos flowing to the fans
"Johnny Duncan has touched so many lives and brought so much joy to so many people, that this recognition was long overdue," said executive producer Richard Lester, "He could not have received it among a finer group of people than those who turned out this weekend to honor him and his work."
Johnny with his daughter Cathy McIlhenny taking care of a new generation of Batman & Robin fans.
"Our cameras were able to record everything for posterity," said Gary Lester. "Anyone who loves the golden years of Hollywood will love the broadcast and the DVD."
Johnny Duncan presently lives in retirement on his 22 acre ranch with his family and animals.
For further information about Johnny Duncan, please click here.
For further information about Charlie Carlson's hit PBS TV show, please click here.
To see the trailer, please click here.
Studio Honors Johnny Duncan
Hollywood legend Johnny Duncan arrived in Florida in January, 2009 to receive a Lifetime Achievement In Film award from Blue Heron International Pictures.
Johnny is a true Hollywood icon from the golden age of film, said executive producer Richard Lester.
He knew, worked, and socialized with everyone who was anyone during that golden age of Hollywood.
Johnny in costume as Robin, with Robert Lowery as Batman
Johnny Duncan is best known for his iconic role as Robin in the 1949 serial Batman & Robin. However, he started off a few years earlier with Humphrey Bogart in Action in The North Atlantic, and appeared in several features with The Dead-End Kids, later known as The Bowery Boys.
We used to do those Dead-End Kids movies in five days, said Johnny. Producer Sam Katzman said if you couldn't do a picture in five days, it wasn't worth doing.
Duncan rode the range in the 1940s and 1950s with such cowboy heroes as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Alan Ladd, and Clint Walker (Cheyenne).
After filming scenes with fellow bad guy Clint Eastwood in a Cheyenne episode, Johnny rode home in Clint's sporty roadster.
"He had a butch haircut with long sideburns back then," said Johnny smiling.
Johnny shared lunch with Ronald Reagan in between takes for Bedtime For Bonzo, socialized with Humphrey Bogart after long hours of filming The Caine Mutiny, and engaged Kirk Douglas in a bloody sword-fight in Spartacus.
"We were truly honored to be in the presence of one of Hollywood s busiest actors during that special time -- the golden age of the movie studios," said Gary Lester.
Johnny Duncan laughs with Charlie Carlson, as Gary Lester and Barry Anderson look on.
Live At Robert Ripley's Museum
Gary Lester performing table magic at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.
Gary watches over a can of lethal cat food from Ted V. Mikels' 1969 horror classic, The Corpse Grinders, part of the Blue Heron display at Ripley's.
Veteran FX make-up artist Barry Anderson, whose zombies appeared in George Romero's classic film Day of the Dead, shows no fear and ignores all warnings, as he touches Blue Heron's famous haunted brick.
Gary Lester Performs
The Great Escape
“I was wrapped straight-jacket style in chains fastened by four hefty padlocks,” said Lester. “Then they placed me in a giant burlap bag and told me I had three minutes to escape before the air ran out.”
Celebrity Al Gliniecki, (Guiness Book of World Records), fastened the first padlock. Gliniecki holds four world records for tying cherry stems with his tongue. Here he ties Gary in chains.
Smiles and laughter greeted Lester, as he finally made his way out of his baggy prison – leaving his chains behind in the burlap sack -- still securely padlocked.
Houdini would have been proud.