Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Places, Please," CBS-TV, 1948-1949

At the close of the summer of 1948, my mother graduated from Syracuse University, and in the fall of that year became a cast member in a Broadway musical revue, Small Wonder (which starred Tom Ewell). Toward the end of the year, while performing in the play, she made a singing appearance on a CBS-TV variety and talent program, Places, Please. It was the first television program on which she appeared. Soon afterwards, she sang on the show again.  

Places, Please, a Monday/Wednesday/Friday evening fifteen-minute program, aired in 1948 and 1949.  

As New York Times critic Jack Gould noted, in 1948, Places, Please was "devoted to giving youngsters in the entertainment world a chance to be heard and seen." The show's host was Barry Wood, who had had great success as a singer, both on records, and on radio; from 1939 until 1943, he had starred on the radio show Your Hit Parade. He was succeeded on the program by Frank Sinatra. 

Until recently, I had never seen a kinescope (or, as would most often be the case, a video made from a kinescope) of Places, Please. In late December I came upon a segment of one of the telecasts, on YouTube, though I do not know its date. The segment features dancer and singer Don Liberto. Liberto, seen in the YouTube image above, had, by this time, appeared in a number of Broadway plays.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6des2qYJvIU 

I like the simplicity of the segment; it has an appealingly spare quality. Liberto dances and sings in front of a curtain, accompanied only by a pianist. One sees only part of the piano, to one side of the stage (the pianist is not visible). There is not a full audience; rather, there are a handful of people, seated at the other side of the stage, watching Liberto perform. The group (seen in the image above) includes Barry Wood, and three young women wearing sweaters adorned with the letters "CBS."  

Here is the Wikipedia page about Barry Wood, who died in 1970:  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Wood_(singer) 

Performer Don Liberto died in 2010. Here is an obituary, from the show business publication Variety: 

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118027059/?refCatId=25