Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Voice Of John Ashley

John Ashley was a Kansas City-born actor who broke into the movies in the late 1950s in a series of low-budget melodramas, such as MOTORCYCLE GANG, HOT ROD GANG, and FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER. Handsome and blessed with a terrific speaking voice, Ashley eventually made his way to American International Pictures, where he co-starred with other young stars like Frankie Avalon and his wife Deborah Walley in frothy comedies like BIKINI BEACH and SERGEANT DEADHEAD.

Something of a self-starter who was probably getting bored with formulaic comedies and TV guest shots, Ashley went to the Philippines in 1968 to star in a series of cheap, colorful horror movies that became known as the Blood Island trilogy: BRIDES OF BLOOD, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, and BEAST OF BLOOD. More importantly, he started producing them too, and cranked out several lurid horror pictures of independent distributors like Hemisphere Pictures and Roger Corman's New World Pictures. In fact, Ashley's BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT was the first film distributed to theaters by New World.

By the end of the 1970s, Ashley had retired from acting and become a full-time producer. One of his jobs was producing THE A-TEAM for Stephen J. Cannell, who remembered Ashley's acting career when it came time to create the opening titles for the series. Not only did Ashley supply the familiar A-TEAM narration (admit it--you know it by heart), but Cannell also tapped him to narrate the opening of HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK a year later.

In case you've always wondered who that voice was, here's John Ashley in THE A-TEAM and HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK:

Both themes were composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.


Temple of Schlock said...

THE STUDENT NURSES and ANGELS DIE HARD were the first two New World Pictures releases to hit theaters. The BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT/CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND combo was the third, I believe.

Marty McKee said...

Conundrum. Fred Olen Ray's book THE NEW POVERTY ROW claims BEAST/CREATURE were first. Mark McGee's Corman biography implies BEAST was the first New World production, but doesn't explicitly say so. Christopher Koetting's more recent MIND WARP: THE FANTASTIC TRUE STORY OF ROGER CORMAN'S NEW WORLD PICTURES says ANGELS DIE HARD was the first, followed by STUDENT NURSES, GAS-S-S-S (picked up from AIP?), and BURY ME AN ANGEL. MIND WARP says BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT, THE BIG DOLL HOUSE, and CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND came out next in April 1971.

Temple of Schlock said...

THE STUDENT NURSES (August 1970) and ANGELS DIE HARD (November 1970) were the first two. THE BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT was originally a Hemisphere project; the irony is that Corman needed a quick co-feature for it and ended up licensing CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND from Sam Sherman, who was producing BRAIN OF BLOOD for Hemisphere at that point because the company had lost BEAST and didn't have a new horror movie for the drive-in season!

THE BIG DOLL HOUSE was third. BEAST co-billed with ALTAR OF BLOOD was to be next, but there was some licensing issue that necessitated the deal with Sherman so I think BURY ME AN ANGEL may have come out before the BEAST/CREATURE combo. ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME, PRIVATE DUTY NURSES and THE VELVET VAMPIRE/SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER combo were all in circulation by the summer of '71.

GAS-S-S-S was never handled by New World.