Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Jacks," "Jackies," and Allan Sherman

As mentioned previously, in this space, I was the host of an online radio talk show between 2011 and 2014.  During that time, I did a little (emphasis on "little") comedy bit on the program, once or twice (probably twice; I tend to repeat myself), about The Ed Sullivan Show. 

I said, on the radio program, that it seemed like most of the guests on Ed Sullivan's show, over the years, had either the name "Jack," or "Jackie":  Jackie DeShannon,  Jackie Wilson,  Jack E. Leonard, Jackie Vernon, Jack Carter, Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Jackie Mason, Jack Jones--and so on.

Recently, I read a 1965 book, A Gift of Laughter (Atheneum Publishers), an autobiography by the supremely talented song parodist/comedian Allan Sherman. I enjoyed coming upon the following, in the book:

"Willie Weber [an agent] handled the careers of several dozen comedians, most of whom were named Jackie. Willie, as far as I could tell, had only one single show-business instinct: he was one hundred percent dead certain that the only good name for a comedian is Jackie. You couldn't argue this point, because he was making a fortune.  If a Sam, Alvin, Clyde or Montmorency walked into Willie Weber's office and signed a contract, he walked out under the name  of Jackie, and somehow Willie kept his Jackies busy working all the time. Willie wasn't too happy when I insisted on remaining Allan, but he figured it would be real good if he could have somebody like me around to supply jokes and funny songs to his stable of Jackies, which included Jack E. Leonard, Jackie Miles, Jackie Winston and Jackie Gleason."

While writing this post, I went online, to see if there were other Jacks or Jackies I had forgotten--and found an enjoyable/interesting passage from a 2015 book by Kliph Nesteroff, The Comedians (published by Grove Press).   

Mr. Nesteroff wrote about the recurring names of comics, years ago: "There were guys like Buddy Lester, Buddy Lewis and Buddy Hackett; Joe E. Brown, Joe E. Lewis and Joe E. Ross; Joey Adams, Joey Bishop and Joey Forman.  An inexplicable number of them were named Jackie--Jackie Clark, Jackie Curtiss, Jackie Gayle, Jackie Gleason, Jackie Heller, Jackie Kahane, Jackie Kannon, Jackie Mason, Jackie Miles, Jackie Wakefield, Jackie Whalen, Jackie Winston, Jackie Vernon, Jack E. Leonard..."

Here is a link to the book, on amazon:

Here, too, via YouTube, are three Allan Sherman songs.

The first is Mr. Sherman's most famous record, 1963's "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh." Mr. Sherman (who died in 1973, of emphysema, not long before he would have turned 49) was perhaps not a "trained" singer, but I loved his voice; he had a very appealing and distinctive singing style. And his lyrics (often co-written by Lou Busch, his musical arranger and conductor): they were entertaining, and very funny--and always scanned so beautifully. 

Another song--according to the YouTube video, the recording is from a 1963 live performance, in California--was titled "Overweight People" (to the tune of "Over the Rainbow"):

And lastly, from 1964, one of my favorites--"Shine on Harvey Bloom":   

Friday, March 17, 2017


I recently switched my car's main odometer to the "Trip" odometer. Forgot to switch it back to the main one, and as a result missed when it reached 100,000.   :(

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Robert Osborne, of TCM

Turner Classic Movies is certainly one of television's best networks, and Robert Osborne was its signature host--from TCM's inception in 1994, until early 2016, when he left the air due to illness.

It was always a pleasure watching his broadcasts; Mr. Osborne was a very fine, likeable and informative host.  He died on Monday, at age 84.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Singer Bobby Freeman

The New York Times ran a story Monday night about the singer Bobby Freeman.  He died on January 23rd, at age 76.

Though Mr. Freeman was undoubtedly best known for his 1958 hit record "Do You Want to Dance," which he wrote, and which came out when he was seventeen (it was subsequently recorded by a number of other artists, including The Beach Boys, John Lennon, and Bette Midler), his 1964 hit, "C'mon and Swim," was a particular favorite of mine, during childhood.  It was released in 1964 (I was eight), and I played it endlessly, as I recall, on the very small, portable record player I had.  Though I still have the 45, it got warped, somewhere along the way, and is unusable.  In recent years, I've enjoyed listening to the song, periodically, on YouTube.

There is a nice photo, in the above New York Times story, of Mr. Freeman performing in 1964 on the ABC show Shindig.  The video, below, is clearly from the same telecast.

"C'mon and Swim," incidentally, was produced (and co-written) by Sylvester Stewart--who later became better known as Sly Stone, of Sly and the Family Stone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Photo, after visiting The Salvation Army store

I went to The Salvation Army store today, to donate some books.

I currently have a rather long beard, which has a decent amount of gray in it.  As seen in the picture above, I was, while at the store, wearing a somewhat festive-looking winter cap.

A customer at the store said to me (I thought this was pretty funny):  "You look like Santa Claus."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore

CBS-TV will be airing a special on Thursday (9-10 p.m., Eastern time), about the incomparable Mary Tyler Moore.

Here is a nice scene from The Dick Van Dyke Show, from 1961 (the show's first season).  It features Ms. Moore and Mr. Van Dyke singing and dancing to the song "You Wonderful You."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last speech

This is a video of the remarkable and powerful conclusion of the last speech given by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His closing remarks--among his best-known--were hauntingly prescient.  He delivered the speech in Memphis, on the night of April 3, 1968; he was killed in Memphis the next day.