March 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1965, Gino Nardo interviewed potential singing pupils for private vocal coaching sessions at the Pepperment Playhouse at 124 Main Street according to this March 22 Long Beach Independent ad. Mr. Nardo had worked in radio, television, and night clubs and with stars like Frank Sinatra, Robert Goulet, and Jane Powell.

Ah, just more thing:

On the September 24, 1972, the Long Beach Press-Telegram printed a photo of Nardo with Anne Baxter with a captioned mentioning that he was playing her first husband in an upcoming episode of Columbo titled “Death by Starlight.” By the time it aired on January 21, 1973, the episode name had been changed to “Requiem for a Falling Star.” Anne Baxter played Nora Chandler, a fading movie star and murder suspect.

There’s just one thing that doesn’t make sense about that photo in the newspaper. IMDB doesn’t list a Gino Nardo as part of the cast, and yet there’s this photo of him with Anne Baxter.

It kept niggling at me.

It didn’t come together until I read a synopsis of the episode. Nora’s first husband Al Cumberland disappeared under mysterious circumstances years before, so he isn’t actually seen in the episode, but when Columbo is nosing around Nora’s home (as one does when one is a tv detective), he notices a photo of Nora Chandler with her missing first husband, studio chief Al Cumberland.

You’ll have to hunt down the episode yourself to see how Columbo solves the crime. If you do, watch carefully when Peter Falk examines Nora’s photo collection. You might catch a glimpse of a vocal coach from Seal Beach.

(Columbo is a fun but preposterous character, of course. No one in real life could ever be that obsessive about trivial details.)

– Michael Dobkins


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