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The Incredible Inman: 'Mister Rogers' Lady Aberlin had role in 'Christmas Tree'

| Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Question: About 10 or 15 years ago, there was a made-for-TV Christmas movie about the obtaining of a Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center. It was ultimately found on the grounds of a convent. Can you tell me the title and whether it's on DVD?

Answer: That's the 1996 TV movie called — wait for it — “The Christmas Tree.” It was directed by Sally Field and the cast included Julie Harris, Trini Alvarado and Andrew McCarthy. And, in a smaller role, was Betty Aberlin, better known as Lady Aberlin from “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.” It's not on DVD.

Q: Will “Hell on Wheels” make it back on AMC next season?

A: “Hell on Wheels” has been renewed for a third season, but no one knows when production will start. Several key people, including the show's creators, have left, and nothing will be happening until replacements have been found.

Q: On the Nov. 11 episode of “Revenge” there was a Neiman-Marcus commercial with some of the show's stars. What was the name of the song on the soundtrack and who performs it?

A: The song is “Black Sheep” by Gin Wigmore.

Q: I am a runner and think I remember a movie starring Michael Douglas in the late 1970s or early '80s about a guy attempting to qualify for the Olympic marathon team. But I can't remember the movie name or find it anywhere. Any thoughts on the name?

A: That's the 1979 film “Running,” which also stars Susan Anspach and Eugene Levy. It would be fun to run it as a double feature with another Michael Douglas movie, “Falling Down.”

Q: I am a physician with many patients older than 80. When I tell them there used to be a show called “Life Begins at 80,” no one remembers it. And then I realized that, although I remember the title, I don't remember what the show was about. Can you help?

A: “Life Begins at 80” ran from 1950 to 1956, but for the majority of its run it was on the little-seen TV networks DuMont and ABC. Many cities had CBS and NBC affiliates, but DuMont was common only on the East Coast and ABC didn't really begin adding affiliates until the late 1950s.

Anyway, the format was that of a panel show, where younger people (which was, let's be honest, pretty much everybody) would write in to the panelists for advice. The host was Jack Barry, later of “The Joker's Wild.” The panelists included two regulars, both older than 80 — raconteur Fred Stein and actress Georgiana Carhart — and two guests. The general idea was that the older you get, the wiser you get. And the older I get, the more I tend to believe that's exactly right.

Q: Could you tell me who Anderson Cooper's parents are? I was telling my husband about him, and I couldn't remember.

A: Yeah, and your husband says he's tired of hearing about Anderson Cooper's favorite food, the name of Anderson Cooper's dog, Anderson Cooper's shoe size and all the rest.

So here's one last fact before you move on to Wolf Blitzer.

Cooper's mother is designer-actress Gloria Vanderbilt. She also the subject of an epic child custody battle in the 1930s, which is recounted in the book “Little Gloria: Happy at Last.”

Q: A few years ago, I saw the start of a movie on TV and then was interrupted and couldn't watch it all. The movie starred Patty Duke and she was pregnant, her husband was away, and she was, for some reason, staying with her mother-in-law while she awaited the birth of the baby. She went to sleep one night or was drugged, apparently had the child, and the mother-in-law told her the baby had died, but Patty's character kept hearing the baby crying in the attic or somewhere in the house, I think.

The movie had a sinister feel to it, like a horror movie. The mother-in-law appeared to be trying to make Patty's character think she was insane. I wonder if you can figure out what the movie was and who else was in it?

A: That's the 1972 film “You'll Like My Mother,” which also stars Rosemary Murphy, Sian Barbara Allen and Richard Thomas.

Write David Inman in care of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, Ky. 40201-7431; or email him at Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.

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