Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam


Rosalind Marmel


Year 2013 New Year’s Resolutions

By Rosalind Marmel, Los Angeles Correspondent, Jan. 3, 2013

Perhaps the best family musical I know of…




Unfortunately, I was born before Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963 began teaching family values to infants, toddlers and anyone younger than I am. 


I am trying to catch up. I am watching the Emmy-nominated animated PBS Kids TV series available throughout the world. The late John Ritter voiced Clifford in the series from 2000 until 2003.  I’m trying to collect 84 year old author Norman Bridwell’s 126 million books, drinking tiny 4.3 ounce containers of Hansen’s fruit juices and waters, found at with Clifford, Emily Elizabeth and their pals getting into mischief right in front of my little, baby blue eyes. 


The Los Angeles Times said that the Warner Brothers movie, “Clifford’s Really Big Movie”, “brings the Big Red Dog, beloved by children from Norman Bridwell’s books and the TV series, to the screen with style and charm.”


Although voice over stars (including John Ritter), Jenna Elfman, John Goodman and Judge Reinhold played the roles of Clifford, Cleo, T-Bone and their pals in their first movie, I find it too scary. I scare easily. 


A. O. Scott in a New York Times review said, “Young children will snuggle up in the movie’s cozy good cheer.” Snuggled up with my Clifford snugglys does not help me like the movie.  


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal is pairing up with Illumination Entertainment, the company responsible for the box office giant, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.”  They are bringing Clifford to the big screen as a feature film with Matt Lopez who wrote the screenplay, for the 2010 film distributed by Walt Disney starring Nicholas Cage, (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) to write the Clifford script. The last I heard Lopez would be making his directorial debut in what I heard is supposed to be a live action,  animated hybrid. Imax theaters are bigger than houses so Clifford should be able to get into an Imax, I suppose.


I am doing anything I can in my attempt to get a crash course in Clifford, the Big Red Dog, bigger than a house’s 10 BE BIG ideas.  


I’m exchanging emails with Christina Rose Rahm, a very talented young woman, who manages to get herself into lots of trouble as she sings, dances, talks and even emails her way from city to city playing the role of Emily Elizabeth. Christina is Clifford’s human, in David Miller’s touring production of, CLIFFORD, THE BIG RED DOG, a gigantic splash of a family musical that I went to huge lengths to see live, in California at one my favorite theatres, The Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, California. The Fred Kavli Theatre is bigger than a house. Emily Elizabeth showed me how Clifford got in and out of the door. I keep secrets luckily for Emily Elizabeth. Clifford might be my best friend. I’m loyal to my friends.


Bridwell was planning for Clifford to be a labrador but it turns out that the puppy was born a bloodhound.  Clifford shows that giant breeds do not always have shorter life spans. Clifford’s longevity in dog years is 350 years old. I am not even that old.


Norman Bridwell did not have an easy childhood. He was not good at sports or shop classes. His teacher told him that he was not good at drawing either. He kept drawing anyway. He loved drawing. He didn’t fit in with the other kids. He was shy. Like the 25 foot tall Clifford, he was kind of clumsy. 


He got married to Norma. Norma had an imaginary friend as a child named Emily Elizabeth. They had a baby girl in 1982. You guessed it. They named her Emily Elizabeth. Parents with babies need money. Diapers are expensive. Norma and Norman wanted to move from New York to San Francisco. California was expensive too. Norman needed a real job. He couldn’t make money as a commercial artist. 


Norma encouraged him to interview with Harper and Row. He got nowhere until an editor there found a sketch he made of a big red dog with a blonde, blue-eyed 8-year-old riding on his back in a pile of papers. That piece of paper contributed to the success of Scholastic Books as a big publishing house and Scholastic Studios and the onset of the PBS Kids series.  There was a jar of red paint on the table when he was sketching. The black Labrador then became a red Bloodhound. 


Editors at Scholastic realized that every kid would want a shy, clumsy dog like Clifford. Clifford is friendly and helpful. Usually, when he gets into trouble it is trying to get Emily Elizabeth, Jenna and their pals out of messes.


Norman planned to stop writing after the first book. Writers don’t normally make money either. Norma talked him into writing a second book based on her childhood fantasies. 




PBS and pre-school teachers, parents and caregivers in the 90’s were finding that kids’ TV was not having a good influence on kids. “The Power Rangers”, as an example derived from amine and its popularity has far too much violence.  


“Clifford’s Puppy Days”, is a 25-episode prequel to “Clifford The Big Red Dog.” It is recommended for ages 4 and up. Finally, there is an

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Wallace + Wallace
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • Asper Foundation
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Nick's Inn
  • Aziza Family
  • Total Lighting Sales
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Eddie's Gravel Supply
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • Sveinson Construction
  • The Home Store
  • KC Enterprises Ltd.
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Chisick Family
  • Dimensions Insurance
  • HUB International
  • Artista Homes
  • Southwynn Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Fetching Style
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Stringer Rentals
  • Interlake C Store
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Sean Fisher
  • Bridges for Peace
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Chochy's
  • Kristina's
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Erickson Motors
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.