Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tony Charmoli, and "Your Hit Parade"

In the prior post, I wrote about the choreographer and director Tony Charmoli. The photograph, above, is of Mr. Charmoli (during the time he was the choreographer and stager of NBC's Your Hit Parade), and Hit Parade dancer Virginia Conwell.  The photograph appeared in the June, 1953 issue of Dance Magazine.

The caption refers to the Peabody Award given to the Hit Parade in 1953 (for the year 1952). Among the other Peabody recipients, that year, were Martin Agronsky, of ABC Radio, for his news coverage and analysis; CBS Radio, for its New York City Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra program; NBC-TV, for the programs Meet The Press, and Mister Peepers (which starred Wally Cox); and The Johns Hopkins Science Review, produced at Baltimore's WAAM-TV, which was carried on the Dumont Network.

Here is the citation accompanying the award to the Hit Parade:

"A long merited award for consistent good taste, technical perfection, and unerring choice of performers. When a hit song must be used for as often as 16 consecutive weeks, unusual ingenuity is required to keep the program fresh and original. This is a challenge which has never once defeated 'Your Hit Parade,' a model of charm and good taste, appealing to every age group. A credit to producers, sponsors, and the entire television industry."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Television Advertisement, 1949

This advertisement, for a television set, is from a May 9, 1949 issue of Playbill magazine.  The Playbill was for Love Life: A Vaudeville, which starred Nanette Fabray and Ray Middleton.

The Broadway play, which would have its final performance five days later, had its premiere in October of 1948. Its book and lyrics were by Alan Jay Lerner, and its music by Kurt Weill; the director was Elia Kazan, and Michael Kidd was the choreographer.

One of the play's performers was the dancer Tony Charmoli.

In 1949, while performing on Broadway, Charmoli became the choreographer for the ABC television show Stop The Music.  Then, in 1950, when NBC's Your Hit Parade came to TV, Charmoli was hired as the program's choreographer.  He was also the show's stager; he staged all of the performances of the singers and supporting actors/performers in each of the show's musical numbers. The program featured dramatizations of each week's hit songs.

In addition to his quick rise to prominence as a television choreographer--he received an Emmy nomination in 1955 for his choreography on Your Hit Parade, and was awarded an Emmy the following year, for his work on the program--Charmoli later became a noted television director.  From the 1960s to the 1990s, he received eleven Emmy nominations, for both directing and choreography.  Two of those nominations, in the 1970s, led to Emmy Awards, for choreography; one was for Gypsy in My Soul, the 1976 special which starred Shirley MacLaine (which he also directed).  Charmoli was also the director of the much-admired 1977 television production of the American Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov.

The above advertisement, from the 1949 Playbill, is for an Emerson TV.  I enjoy its name--that it was a "Long Distance" television set.  (As the ad noted:  "No matter where you live--city, suburb or country, you'll get finer reception with an Emerson Long Distance Television Receiver.")  I also like the name of the store where the television could be purchased.  Television, in 1949, was still a new entity in American life; the Emerson TV set was available at "Willis Radio Stores," in the Bronx. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Don Pardo, 1918-2014

The very talented announcer Don Pardo--who was heard for 38 years on Saturday Night Live--died on Monday, at age 96.


Another show for which Mr. Pardo was well-known was the Art Fleming version of Jeopardy!  Here is a 1974 episode of the program: