Monday, December 29, 2008

Early TV, and the Postal Service

The United States Postal Service has released its list of stamps which will appear in 2009. One set of twenty stamps will concern television history. "The Early TV Memories" series will be released Aug. 11th.

The television shows which will be commemorated are:

The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Dinah Shore Show; Dragnet; The Ed Sullivan Show; The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show; Hopalong Cassidy; The Honeymooners; Howdy Doody; I Love Lucy; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Lassie; The Lone Ranger; Perry Mason; The Phil Silvers Show; Red Skelton; Texaco Star Theater; The Tonight Show; The Twilight Zone; and You Bet Your Life.

Here's a news story about the upcoming series of stamps:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081229/ap_on_go_ot/lucy_and_ethel_stamps

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"TV Confidential," Morgan White, Jr., Mel Simons

As one who has spent much time, since the 1980s, working as a radio talk show host, it has been a great pleasure, this past year, getting to know a number of radio talk hosts, via guest appearances on their shows.

I was recently interviewed by two excellent hosts, Ed Robertson, and Frankie Montiforte; their program, “TV Confidential,” is an Internet-only broadcast, airing every other week (http://www.tvconfidential.net/ ). The show, a ninety-minute program, will in the new year become a two-hour broadcast. I’ll have more to say about the show in an upcoming post.

In previous posts I've also mentioned the hosts Jordan Rich and Morgan White, Jr., both of Boston’s WBZ-AM. I’ve been interviewed by Jordan once, several months ago, and by Morgan twice, most recently during Thanksgiving week.

Morgan appears frequently as a guest host on the station; he has done so for years. He’s also well-known in the Boston area (and beyond) as an entertainer; he presents trivia-oriented shows.

He’s also written trivia books, including So You Think You're a Bostonian, and The Black Heritage Book of Trivia. During one of his recent guest-host appearances on WBZ, he mentioned that he’s going to be bringing out a new trivia book in 2009. The publisher, I’m delighted to note, will be BearManor Media, the press that brought out The Lucky Strike Papers.

BearManor has also published several books by Boston’s Mel Simons, who has appeared for years as a regular guest on WBZ. (Mel recommended me as a guest to Morgan, which led to my first appearance on the station.) Mel’s latest book, just released, is titled Old Time Television Memories, and is made up of interviews with Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam, Perry Como, and other TV icons.

For more information about Mel Simons’ new book, please click here: http://bearmanormedia.bizland.com/id369.html

For additional information about Morgan White, Jr., his web address is: www.morganwhitejr.com.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Martin Grams, Jr., and Jordan Rich

Martin Grams, Jr. is a prolific—and highly regarded—writer. We met recently at the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention in Newark, New Jersey; we were both part of a panel discussion at the convention.

Martin’s many books about television and old-time radio (some of which are published by BearManor Media) include: “The Radio Adventures of Sam Spade” (OTR Publishing, 2007), “Gang Busters—The Crime Fighters of American Broadcasting” (OTR, 2004), “I Led 3 Lives” (BearManor, 2007), and “Information Please” (BearManor, 2003).

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, just after midnight, Martin will be appearing on “The Jordan Rich Show,” on Boston radio station WBZ-AM. He’ll be talking about his latest book, “The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic” (OTR, 2008). The show can be heard at http://www.wbz.com/.

Further information about Martin Grams, Jr., and his books, can be found at his web site: http://www.martingramsjr.com/

And speaking of Jordan Rich:

Jordan, a terrific host (I appeared on his WBZ program several months ago), is currently raising funds for Boston’s Children’s Hospital. With a $20 contribution, one receives a 2009 “Jordan Rich Show” calendar.

For information about donating, please click on this link:

http://jordanrich.com/chbforderform.htm

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"TV Confidential"

On Tuesday night (Dec. 16th), I'll be appearing on the California-based Internet radio show "TV Confidential." The show begins at 10:30 p.m. (EST); I'll be joining the program at 11 p.m. The interview is expected to last an hour.

The hosts of "TV Confidential" are Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte. To find out more about the program (and its hosts), please click on the following link:

http://www.tvconfidential.net/

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Virginia Rohan, "The Record"

Journalist Virginia Rohan writes for the well-known northern New Jersey newspaper “The Record.” Her column—“Boomer on Board”—focuses on topics and issues related to the baby-boom generation. This week, a very nice piece she wrote about “The Lucky Strike Papers" appeared in the paper.

The story can be found here:

http://www.northjersey.com/entertainment/books/Book_chronicles_TV_era_that_makes_boomers_feel_young.html

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Childhood, the 1960s

Although The Lucky Strike Papers concerns the late 1940s and early 1950s—the end of the big-band era, and the early years of television—I was born later, in 1956. In the early and mid-1960s (like so many others), I spent much time watching, listening to, the performers of the era: the Beatles, of course, as well as the Dave Clark Five, the Beach Boys, Gerry and the Pacemakers, many others.

I recently came upon a wonderful 1960s video of singer Petula Clark, whose signature song, “Downtown,” I loved, in childhood. The dancers, in the video, offer an enjoyable reminder of 1960s choreography. Clark’s physical movements are spare, understated, sexy; her easygoing vocal ad-libs, interpolations, are lovely, hip. Her singing, in the video—typical of her talent—is strong, and rich, and beautiful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LjCYfkyHQg

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A review

A very kind review of The Lucky Strike Papers was posted November 8th on Michael Coston’s enjoyable (and cleverly-named) nostalgia-oriented blog, “Master of My Public Domain.”

The blog (http://masterofmypublicdomain.blogspot.com/) focuses on (and provides links to) “Public Domain Movies, TV Shows, and Old Time Radio shows available for free download off the Internet.”

I had sent Michael a copy of the book. Here are some of his comments:

“For anyone curious at all about the early days of live television, and the transition from radio to TV as being the dominant form of home entertainment, this book is a delight.

“Fielding guides us through the early years of TV, mostly through his Mother's career, which took her from the Kay Kyser Show, to the Freddy Martin Show, and onto Your Hit Parade

“It makes a worthy addition to anyone's library, and would make a terrific Christmas gift for anyone with a love of nostalgia..."

The full review can be read here:

http://masterofmypublicdomain.blogspot.com/2008/11/and-now-lucky-strike-extra.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thursday, at Chilton Memorial Hospital

I'll be speaking about my book on Thursday, at Chilton Memorial Hospital, in Pompton Plains, NJ, as part of the hospital's "New Vitality" program ("A Health and Wellness Program for People 50 and Older"). The talk will take place at 1:30 p.m., at Chilton's Collins Pavilion.
The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains. The phone number for the New Vitality program is: (973) 831-5367.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Old-Time Radio Convention, Newark, NJ

"The 2008 Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention" will be running from October 23rd until October 26th, at the Holiday Inn-North, in Newark, New Jersey. I've just been added to a panel discussion taking place at the convention--at 2 p.m. on the 23rd.

The panel features several writers, including Ben Ohmart, who runs BearManor Media (publisher of The Lucky Strike Papers); in addition to his work as publisher, Ben has written a number of show business-related books (including biographies of Joan Davis, Paul Frees, and Daws Butler). Trivia expert Mel Simons is also on the panel; BearManor has brought out several books by Mel (including The Old-Time Radio Trivia Book).

Another panelist will be Janet Cantor Gari, one of the daughters of Eddie and Ida Cantor. She'll discuss the book she's written about her mother, Don't Wear Silver in the Winter; the book is also published by BearManor Media.

Here's the convention's web address: http://www.lofcom.com/nostalgia/fotr/update08.php3

Friday, September 26, 2008

Answer to Quiz Question

Unfortunately, no correct answers to the quiz question below were received:

The answer to the question:

Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Sue Bennett, Russell Arms, June Valli, and Gisele MacKenzie.

A new--and perhaps less involved--question will be posted soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Quiz Question

Your Hit Parade, which had been a hit show on radio since the 1930s, came to TV in 1950, airing Saturday nights on NBC.

The TV show originally featured two, and then three singers; it settled on its permanent cast of four featured singers in 1953. That cast remained in place until 1957.

In 1957, the show’s four singers were replaced by a group of younger performers.

Between 1950 and 1957, seven featured singers appeared on the Hit Parade. (This does not include Polly Bergen, who briefly replaced singer Dorothy Collins in 1954, when Collins took maternity leave.)

A free copy of The Lucky Strike Papers will be sent to the first person who e-mails this blog (LSPapers@aol.com) with the names of the seven singers who were featured on the show between 1950 and 1957 (before the cast of younger singers took over).

Please include your name and address, along with your answer to this question.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sale, Extended

The special $20 sale price, for copies of The Lucky Strike Papers, will now be offered through Saturday, September 27th. For additional information, see the previous post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Discounted copies

A reminder, that discounted (and signed) copies of The Lucky Strike Papers are available through the book's web site: http://www.luckystrikepapers.com/.

The book's cover price is $24.95. Until Tuesday, September 23rd, copies will be available for $20, a price which includes Media Mail shipping, with Delivery Confirmation.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Your Hit Parade"


Here's a photo, from a fall of 1951 issue of a Pittsburgh-area TV Guide-type magazine; the picture features the three primary stars of Your Hit Parade at the time: singers Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, and Eileen Wilson.
Interviews with all three singers are featured in The Lucky Strike Papers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chilton Memorial Hospital, "New Vitality" program

I'm looking forward to speaking about The Lucky Strike Papers at Chilton Memorial Hospital, in Pompton Plains, NJ, on October 30th. The talk is part of the hospital's "New Vitality" program--"A Health and Wellness Program for People 50 and Older"--and will take place at 1:30 p.m., in the conference center at the hospital's Collins Pavilion.

The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains. The phone number for the New Vitality program is: (973) 831-5367.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More images, 1951





A few additional pictures--from a September, 1951 telecast of Your Hit Parade. The song "Mississippi Mud" was, during this telecast, a "Lucky Strike Extra." Lucky Strike Extras, featured on each program, were songs which were not hits, at the time, but were previously popular, perhaps standards.

Picture # 3 shows my mother singing the song. Directly behind her are the Hit Parade dancers (including Bobby Trelease, Lenny Claret and Virginia Conwell), and, standing in the distance, members of the Hit Paraders vocal chorus.

Pictures from a DVD




Yesterday, I copied a DVD to my computer, of segments from telecasts of shows profiled in my book: Your Hit Parade, The Freddy Martin Show, and the one segment of Kay Kyser’s TV show that I have (it is a five-minute segment of the hour-long program, purchased on ebay several years ago; I have no idea why only a five-minute portion of the program was offered
for sale). The DVD was made from videotapes I have; the videotapes were originally made from kinescopes (although some of the tapes I have were no doubt made from other tapes, and not directly from kinescopes).

One of the features of the DVD viewing program, on my computer, is that one can take snapshots of the video images.

Here are a few from Your Hit Parade. (The quality of the videotape from which these particular images came was obviously less-than-ideal.)

They are from 1951, of guest dancers Fosse & Niles--Bob Fosse (later the acclaimed stage and film choreographer and director), and his dance partner (and then-wife) Mary Ann Niles.
They appeared regularly on Your Hit Parade, as guest dancers, during the 1950-1951 TV season. Here, they’re dancing to the song “Alabamy Bound.” The scene takes place in a train station; it is Fosse who is holding the train schedule, seen during the introduction to the song, which showed TV viewers the song title; the ways in which song titles were revealed to viewers was one of the signature features of the Hit Parade. (Video images courtesy of Lost Gold Entertainment, Inc.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

"The Mike Douglas Show," 1965


I have a scrapbook from childhood. Contained within it is a page of autographs from a 1965 broadcast of The Mike Douglas Show.

(I began collecting autographs in 1964, when I was eight; this was not long after the death of President Kennedy. Over time I wrote to various politicians and government figures, and also certain baseball players, asking for signed photos. Adlai Stevenson sent me one, as did Richard Nixon; Nixon was, at the time, a lawyer. I also received pictures from several U.S. Senators—and from Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Bob Feller, and Roy Campanella. This hobby lasted for several years.)

In 1965, The Mike Douglas Show came to Boston for a week, broadcast live from the city’s War Memorial Auditorium. The co-host for the week was actor Pat O’Brien. My parents were guests on one of the broadcasts.

They appeared on a number of Mike Douglas’s programs during the 1960s, beginning in 1962, when the show was seen only in Cleveland. In 1962, my father, an obstetrician and gynecologist, had co-written (with my aunt, who at the time was a journalist), a book about childbirth, and as a result was scheduled to appear on the program. When Douglas learned my father was to be a guest, he asked that my mother appear on the show as well; my mother and Douglas had both been featured singers on Kay Kyser’s NBC-TV show in 1949 and 1950, and had not seen one another since. After their 1962 Cleveland appearance, my parents then appeared on Douglas’s program periodically over the next several years.

In that the 1965 telecast at the War Memorial Auditorium took place not far from our suburban Boston home, I went to the show, with my brother and my maternal grandparents.

After the program ended, I was given autographs by Mike Douglas, Pat O’Brien, and singer Frankie Laine—though I do not recall meeting any of them. I do remember meeting Jayne Mansfield, another guest on the show that day, though the memory is a vague one. I simply recall standing next to her, and remember that she gave me a black and white photograph of herself.

The autograph she gave me can be seen above.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jo Stafford

Jo Stafford, one of the best known singers of the big band era, passed away on July 16, in California. She was 90.

The obituary from The New York Times can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/arts/music/19stafford.html.

Stafford was a wonderful singer. One of my favorite songs is 1941’s “Let’s Get Away From It All,” by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The song featured Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, and the vocal group The Pied Pipers; Jo Stafford was, at the time, a member of The Pied Pipers.

Here is a brief excerpt of the record, featuring Stafford and The Pied Pipers. In the excerpt, Stafford sings both alone, and with the group; she is the first voice heard on the recording.

The excerpt comes from the album "The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions, Volume 2," RCA Records, 1982.

http://029b257.netsolhost.com/images/Let_s_Get_Away_from_it_All,_segment.wav

Thursday, July 10, 2008

S.S. United States, and the Pompton Lakes Library

A new documentary, which has been airing on PBS stations throughout the country, concerns the S.S. United States, the ocean liner which plays a part in The Lucky Strike Papers. The film is called S.S. United States: Lady In Waiting. DVDs of the film can be purchased via the film’s web site:

http://www.bigshipfilms.com/bsf_final/#


***********

I mentioned the S.S. United States, when I spoke about The Lucky Strike Papers on June 30th, at the Pompton Lakes (New Jersey) Public Library. I’ve lived in Pompton Lakes since the fall of 2002.

June 30th was a day of great significance at the Library—the last day at work for the Library’s longtime director, Dr. Margaret Freathy. She had overseen the Library for 18 years.

I enjoyed speaking with a small group of Library patrons and staff members (including Dr. Freathy).

When I referred to the S.S. United States, a gentleman in attendance told me the following: he said he was unsure, but he believed that the S.S. United States was the ship featured in the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

I had not heard this, and so, last week, I rented the film. There were, in the film, many exterior shots of the ship; the ship plays a prominent part in the film. As one who has seen many photos of the S.S. United States (and took two tours of it, in the year 2000, on the Philadelphia waterfront), I was sure the gentleman at the library was right: it looked, I thought, just like the United States.

However: in an image of the bow of the ship, in the film, one sees the name “Constitution.” I thought, though, that perhaps the liner was still the United States, but that it had been renamed for the purposes of the film.

Yet so often today, of course, DVDs include additional footage and features, and one newsreel-type feature, on the DVD, concerned a 1957 event related to the film’s debut, an event which took place on the S.S. Constitution— the ship, the narrator noted, that had been featured in the film.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Radio shows

From 1995 until 1997, as mentioned in the previous post, I was the host of a talk show on radio station WINA-AM in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last week, I appeared on WINA again, by phone; I was interviewed by Coy Barefoot, the host of the station’s talk show “Charlottesville—Right Now!”

I have wonderful memories of working at WINA, think of Charlottesville with great affection, and it was a delight appearing on Coy’s program.

Coy, by the way, has written a number of books. Here’s a link to one of them, which is about Thomas Jefferson:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Jefferson-Leadership-Executive-Lessons/dp/0452283116/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215400310&sr=1-4

As my thoughts turn regularly to Charlottesville, they also turn very often to New England, where I am from.

And so I was of course so pleased to be able to appear last weekend (Saturday night/Sunday morning) on Jordan Rich’s overnight show on Boston station WBZ-AM. Jordan has a warm and engaging style as an interviewer. I also enjoyed talking with the several callers who phoned in.

Coming up, on July 15th: an interview on “The Sam Greenfield Show,” on northern New Jersey station WVNJ (1160 AM). The interview will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In the next several days

This Saturday night/Sunday morning (after the 2 a.m. news), I'll be appearing on "The Jordan Rich Show," on WBZ Radio in Boston, to talk about "The Lucky Strike Papers." Jordan's show airs three nights each week: overnight on Friday/Saturday, overnight on Saturday/Sunday, and on Sunday evening between 10 p.m. and midnight. (Jordan's web address is: http://jordanrich.com/)

Yesterday, too, I taped an interview which will be airing this coming Monday (June 30th), between 11 and 11:30 a.m., on Newton, Mass. radio station WNTN (1550 AM). I enjoyed speaking with Sybil Tonkonogy, who has been a talk show host at the station for many years--and was particularly pleased to be able to appear on the show (called "1550 Today"), in that I grew up in Newton.

Also on Monday, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., I'll be discussing "The Lucky Strike Papers" at the Pompton Lakes (New Jersey) Public Library, as part of the Library's "Bagels & Books" series. The library is located at 333 Wanaque Avenue, in Pompton Lakes. For further information about the event, contact the Library's Joan McGrath at 973-835-0482.

In addition: on Wednesday, July 2nd, between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m., there will be an interview on station WINA-AM in Charlottesville, Virginia. The show, "Charlottesville--Right Now!", is hosted by writer Coy Barefoot. Between 1995 and 1997, it so happens, I was the host of a weekday afternoon talk show at the station. I'm looking forward to being on the station again, if only briefly.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Danny Davis



Danny Davis, who achieved great prominence with his Grammy Award-winning musical group “Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass,” died on June 12th in Nashville. He was 83.

Davis, who founded the Nashville Brass in the late 1960s, was born George Nowlan, in Dorchester, Mass. During the big band era, he played trumpet with the orchestras of Gene Krupa, Art Mooney, and others. In 1951, he played with Freddy Martin’s orchestra, on Martin’s NBC-TV series, and was one of the “Martin Men,” the show’s vocal group, made up of sidemen from the band. He also sang solos on the show, and appeared in the show’s commercials for Hazel Bishop lipstick, the show’s sponsor.

Later--before founding the Nashville Brass--he became a well-known record producer.

Above: pictures of Danny Davis. The black and white photo is a Polaroid picture I took today, of a video I have, made from a 1951 “Freddy Martin Show” kinescope. The picture is of Davis—at the time, still known as George Nowlan—singing the show's Hazel Bishop jingle.
Image of "The Freddy Martin Show" used by permission of NBC Studios, Inc.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Magazine photograph, 1960


To the right: A photograph from a July, 1960 magazine article about my mother. At the time—this being several years after the end of her network TV career—she was the host of a Sunday afternoon movie program on Boston’s Channel 7 (WNAC-TV), called Cinema 7. My brother is to the left; I am to the right. At the time the magazine story came out, I was four; my brother was seven (although I believe the picture was taken the year before, in 1959).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hit Parade radio show, 1952


In 1951, when my mother joined the cast of Your Hit Parade, on NBC (at first, to sing in the TV show’s Lucky Strike commercials—known as “extravaganza” commercials, in that they were presented as full production numbers—and then, later, becoming a featured vocalist on the program), the radio and TV versions of the show were both broadcast on Saturday nights. The radio show was broadcast first, and then the same singers, an hour after the conclusion of the radio show, appeared on the television version.

In the fall of 1951, the radio show was altered: it no longer featured the TV cast, and it was moved to Thursday nights. The new radio version, still sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, starred the Guy Lombardo Orchestra; the TV orchestra continued to be led by bandleader Raymond Scott. Each week, on the new radio version, a guest female vocalist—the show’s “Lucky Star of the Week”—was featured. In 1952, my mother made two guest appearances on the radio show.

Seen here: an article from a Madison, Wisconsin newspaper, about one of those appearances. The program, that night, celebrated the radio show’s 17th anniversary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Diane Sinclair


Someone on ebay is selling this 1953 picture of dancer Diane Sinclair, taken at the time she was appearing on NBC's Dave Garroway Show, with her dance partner Ken Spaulding.

Sinclair and Spaulding were the featured dance team on Kay Kyser's NBC-TV show; they joined the show in 1950. Interviews with both Diane Sinclair, and the late Ken Spaulding, appear in The Lucky Strike Papers.

In 1954, Diane Sinclair was featured on the cover of Life Magazine, as part of a photo-essay about Sinclair and Spaulding. The photographer for both the photo-essay, and the cover, was Gordon Parks.

Here's the link, for the ebay item:


Friday, April 25, 2008

Morgan White, Jr., & the S.S. United States

I had a terrific time appearing on Boston radio station WBZ on Sunday night—and not simply because, having grown up in the Boston area, I listened to the station throughout my childhood, and beyond.

The show’s guest host—Morgan White, Jr.—conducted a wonderful interview.

And I learned, during our conversation, about a point of intersection, regarding family history.

I have written, in previous posts, about the ocean liner the S.S. United States. It made its first voyage–from New York to England—in 1952. The last broadcast of NBC’s Your Hit Parade, for the 1951-1952 TV season, originated from the ship; this was five days before the ship’s maiden voyage. It turned out—though she did not know it at the time—that my mother’s appearance on the S.S. United States was to be her last appearance on Your Hit Parade.

During the interview, Morgan told me that his grandfather, in the 1950s, had been a steward on the S.S. United States. I loved learning about this—that we both have a once-removed connection to this legendary American ship.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More about WBZ


This Sunday (April 20), at midnight, I'll be appearing as a guest, via phone, on Boston's WBZ NewsRadio (1030 AM). I'll be interviewed about The Lucky Strike Papers by guest host Morgan White, Jr. He's sitting in that night for host Steve LeVeille.


As I mentioned in the preceding two posts, my mother hosted a show on WBZ-TV, "The Sue Bennett Show," in 1954 and 1955. In 1956, the year I was born, she was co-host of another TV show on the station, a weekday morning program, "Morning Playhouse." Her co-host was the legendary Boston TV personality Rex Trailer.


(Above right: advertisement from TV Guide, September, 1956, for "Morning Playhouse")

Monday, April 7, 2008

Boston, & "The Sue Bennett Show"


Seen here is a 1954 story from the Boston Globe's Sunday magazine, during the time my mother was singing on her weekly "Sue Bennett Show," on Boston's WBZ-TV; this was two years after she sang on NBC's "Your Hit Parade." My parents had left New York--and my mother had left behind her network TV career--at the start of 1953.

The year-old son referred to in the story's headline is my brother, who was born in 1953. I came along later, in 1956.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Radio Collectors Of America," & Boston television


It was thoroughly enjoyable speaking to the “Radio Collectors of America,” last Thursday night. The group meets in Quincy, Mass.; I was interviewed by phone by the group’s Vice President, Mel Simons. Others, including the group’s president, Bob Forrest, asked enjoyable questions following Mel’s interview.

One man, whose name I didn’t catch, said he thought he'd seen my mother on a particular TV show in Boston—this being after my parents left New York, and my mother’s network TV career was over. I had trouble hearing the question—it had to be relayed to me by Mel—yet the details the gentleman offered didn’t ring a bell; it seemed to me he was probably thinking of someone else.

Yet after the phone call was over, I thought about the question, and wish I could have spoken with the gentleman further; if his memory was right, and there had been a particular Boston TV show she had appeared on that I was not aware of, I would have enjoyed hearing more about it.

Above right: a newspaper advertisement for my mother’s weekly musical show (in 1954 and 1955) on Boston’s WBZ-TV. The show’s vocal group was led by musician Freddy Guerra; in the 1940s, Guerra (a clarinetist and saxophonist) had played in Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mel Simons, "Radio Collectors of America"

I’m looking forward to an interview I’ll be doing Thursday night, by phone, about The Lucky Strike Papers. The interview will be done via conference call, for the “Radio Collectors of America”; the group meets in Quincy, Mass. The group’s focus is long-ago radio shows, old TV shows, and the like. I’ll be interviewed by Mel Simons, a well-known Boston-based entertainer/MC/comedian/speaker/disc jockey/accordionist. Mel appears regularly on the Steve LeVeille program on Boston’s WBZ-AM. He’s also a fellow BearManor Media author; his books for BearManor include The Old-Time Radio Trivia Book, The Old-Time Television Trivia Book, and Old-Time Radio Memories, a book of interviews.

Mel’s web address is: http://www.melsimons.com/.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kinescopes, and Jenny Lynn

There are many pictures in The Lucky Strike Papers which come from kinescopes. During the period of early television, when programs were for the most part performed live, videotape had not yet been invented. For areas of the country which could not receive programs live—until 1951, there was no coaxial cable linking the entire country; until then, programs telecast from New York, for example, could be seen live only about halfway across the United States—kinescopes were employed.

Kinescopes (known, at the time, for their primitive and imperfect qualities) were sixteen-millimeter films made of programs as they were telecast. Yet they were made not by filming the programs directly, on stage, but by filming the shows off of a TV monitor. The kinescopes were then shipped to the cities which had not been able to see the programs live.

The images of kinescopes, in the book, were not made directly from kinescopes, but via videotapes of kinescopes.

Jenny Lynn, a magnificent artist and photographer, photographed all of the video/kinescope images in the book.

Ms. Lynn has been widely published and exhibited. Her monograph, PhotoPlay, was brought out in 2004. On March 30th, she has a one-person exhibition opening at New York’s Katonah Museum of Art. The show, called “The Object Is Art,” will be seen at the museum until June 29th. For more information: http://katonahmuseum.org/exhibitions.php#150

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book signing

It was a pleasure being at “Amazing Grapes,” the wine bar and wine/spirits shop, in Pompton Lakes, NJ, on Saturday; I was there to sign copies of “The Lucky Strike Papers,” during the last two hours of the shop’s weekly wine tasting.

One man—in his twenties or thirties—told me he was buying “The Lucky Strike Papers” for someone much older, someone who knew a lot about television’s early years, and I was very gratified by this. While I believe the book’s portrait of television in the late 1940s and early 1950s will appeal to anyone who is drawn to history, and in particular to American popular culture, the book will no doubt appeal most to those who witnessed the era firsthand--or, perhaps, those who did not see it firsthand, but who have become drawn to the era, and its distinctive qualities, after the fact.

My thanks to the nice people at “Amazing Grapes,” for their kindness and hospitality.

FYI: the web address for "Amazing Grapes" is: http://www.amazinggrapes.net/.

Friday, March 14, 2008

a reminder, Saturday book signing

A reminder about a Lucky Strike Papers book signing, taking place on Saturday, in Pompton Lakes, NJ, between 4 and 6 p.m. See the posting below (beneath the previous entry).

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A letter about "Your Hit Parade"

I recently received a wonderful letter from a gentleman in New York who read “The Lucky Strike Papers,” and was a fan of the TV show “Your Hit Parade.” He worked for years at one of New York’s TV stations, in a behind-the-scenes technical capacity. The book, he said, “brought back many fond memories of my favorite TV show. I was a fan of both the show itself and Dorothy Collins." He wrote:

“The show was telecast originally from the International Theatre at Columbus Circle during the summer of 1950. It then moved to the Center Theatre (a mini Radio City Music Hall) at Rockefeller Center in October 1950. The Center Theatre was the ideal place for this show. It utilized the vast stage itself to showcase the various songs. There were also several aprons along the front of the stage upon which the cameras were installed. Several stage areas were reused as the show progressed. A huge overhead black and white screen displayed all the action that appeared on stage. Tickets to the show were free, but had to be ordered from the Guest Relations Dept. at NBC. Everyone entering the theatre received a small packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes (four cigarettes). It was extremely colorful and reminiscent of watching an MGM musical in person…

“Technically it was the best show on TV and each show looked like a small spectacular. It was the only show that had 2 day camera rehearsals. All camera movement was done manually (no zoom lenses back then)…like watching the old Hollywood master craftsman at work, except being live, there were no retakes….”

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Book Signing


On Saturday, March 15th, I'll be signing copies of The Lucky Strike Papers at the "Amazing Grapes" wine bar, in Pompton Lakes, NJ.


"Amazing Grapes" hosts wine tastings on Saturdays, from noon until 6 p.m. I'll be signing copies of the book towards the end of the event--from 4 until 6 p.m.

"Amazing Grapes" is located at 23 Wanaque Avenue, in the Pompton Lakes Towne Square Shopping Center. The phone number is: (973) 831-5700. The web address is: http://www.amazinggrapes.net/.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dwight Hemion

During the fall of 1952, not long after leaving the cast of Your Hit Parade, on NBC, my mother sang on a weekday morning TV show, seen on New York's NBC station, WNBT-TV (later known as WNBC). The show, called Breakfast With Music, starred comedian Morey Amsterdam; its musical director was Milton DeLugg, who, in 1950 and 1951, had led the band on TV's first late-night hit show, Broadway Open House.

Breakfast With Music was directed by Dwight Hemion, who later became one of TV's most prominent directors.

Hemion recently passed away, in Virginia. Here's a story about his career, from the Los Angeles Times:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-hemion2feb02,1,4968449.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

Monday, February 11, 2008

Butler/Tri-Boro Rotary Club luncheon

Howard Ball, former President of the Butler/Tri-Boro Rotary Club, here in northern New Jersey--and a columnist for the Suburban Trends newspaper--recently invited me to speak to the club, about The Lucky Strike Papers. The event took place this past Thursday, at Bella Sera restaurant in Bloomingdale, New Jersey, and was delightful. My thanks to Howard; to Charlie Ebers, the group's current president; to Vice President Judith Woop; and to the other attendees, for their great kindness, and hospitality.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

An interview, and a luncheon


This coming Tuesday (February 5), at 12:15 p.m., I’ll be interviewed on the radio talk show Speak Your Piece, on station WBCB-AM, in Bucks County, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. The host of the show is Pat Wandling, a former reporter for The Bucks County Courier Times. She's been the host of Speak Your Piece for many years.

As it happens, I’m quite familiar with WBCB—having been the host of “Speak Your Piece” between 1991 and 1995. I once interviewed Pat on the program, when she was reporting for the Courier Times.

WBCB’s Vice President and General Manager, by the way, is Merrill Reese, the longtime play-by-play announcer for The Philadelphia Eagles. His autobiography, It’s Gooooood!, was brought out in 1998, by the publishing house Sports Publishing Inc. The book was written with sportswriter Mark Eckel.

In 2005, Merrill--widely popular and much-honored--was named “Broadcaster of the Year” by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. The same year, he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame.

Also: at noontime, on Thursday (February 7), I’ll be speaking about The Lucky Strike Papers at the Butler/Tri-Boro Rotary Club luncheon, in Bloomingdale, New Jersey. The luncheon will take place at Bella Sera restaurant, on Main Street in Bloomingdale.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Photograph, 1951




Here's a 1951 photograph (not included in my book), of Snooky Lanson, and my mother, Sue Bennett, singing the song "Because of You," on NBC's Your Hit Parade.

Last episode, 1951-1952












An item in Philadelphia's TV Digest magazine, for the week of June 28, 1952: it noted that the last episode of NBC's Your Hit Parade, for the 1951-1952 TV season, would be originating, on June 28th, from the new luxury ocean liner, the S.S. United States. The ships's maiden voyage--from New York, to England--was five days away.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kay Kyser, 1950




Seen here: Kay Kyser, star of the NBC television program Kay Kyser's College of Musical Knowledge, with daughters Kimberly and Carroll, on the cover of the June 17, 1950 issue of Philadelphia's TV Digest magazine.

Kyser had just been named "Television Father of the Year" by the "National Father's Day Committee."

A detailed portrait of Kay Kyser's 1949-1950 TV show, and a portrait of Kyser himself, make up a significant part of The Lucky Strike Papers.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another view, the S.S. United States


Here is another view of the S.S. United States, photographed on the Philadelphia waterfront, Jan. 20, 2008.




Photo copyright Jenny Lynn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

cashboxmagazine.com

I'm delighted by a review on cashboxmagazine.com, posted 1/15/08, which gives The Lucky Strike Papers five stars.

Says the review: "The Lucky Strike Papers is a must read for anyone wanting...insights [into] early American television."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Talk San Antonio, with Ron Aaron

Today I was interviewed about "The Lucky Strike Papers" by San Antonio radio talk show host Ron Aaron, for his weekly half-hour program "Talk San Antonio." The show will air at various times this weekend on San Antonio's six Clear Channel stations--such as KQXT-FM (also known as Q101.9). The show airs Sunday on KQXT from 7:30-8:00 a.m. (Central Time).

Ron, an old friend, is a sensational radio host; he was previously the host of daily talk shows on stations in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and San Antonio. His primary work, today, is as Executive Director of San Antonio's Animal Defense League; he joined the group in August of 2007. The group's web site is: http://www.adltexas.org/.

Ron was previously the head of San Antonio's Rape Crisis Center, and the San Antonio chapter of Jewish Family & Children’s Service.