Thursday, December 31, 2015

Frank Malzone

Frank Malzone was a great ballplayer (in particular, as a third baseman), and was a hometown favorite, in Boston; he was with the Red Sox from 1955-1965.  In the early to mid-1960s, while growing up, I loved watching him play (on TV, and at Fenway Park).  He died on Tuesday, at 85. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/sports/frank-malzone-star-fielder-for-boston-red-sox-dies-at-85.html

Friday, December 25, 2015

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

A beautiful song, performed by Judy Garland.  It was written for the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, in which she starred.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxxTHzERTsk

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Morgan White, Jr., on WBZ Radio

My friend Morgan White, Jr., talk show host at WBZ-AM in Boston, will be sitting in, tonight and tomorrow night, for the station's overnight host, Bradley Jay. The program airs from midnight to 5.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/station/wbz-news-radio/

http://www.triviamorganwhitejr.com/

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How the world can change

There are particular events, certainly, which cause the world to shift, in dramatic ways.  In America, one thinks of the JFK assassination--and how conversations about it continue, regularly, decades later. (Just a week ago, I began reading another book about what took place in Dallas.) There were the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. And, indeed, the catastrophes of Pearl Harbor, and September 11th. 

There has, most recently, been San Bernardino.  One is shaken by it--reading about it; watching, for hours, the television coverage of the aftermath of the killings; wondering what the tragedy could conceivably portend, for the country.

There are also, of course, positive moments of great significance, as well:  three months after JFK's death, for example, The Beatles appeared on American television.  It was thrilling, world-changing.

And then, years later--thirty-five years ago today--John Lennon was killed.  That night, you heard the news of what had happened, and in an instant, the world was not at all the same.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday evening

Am continuing to think, a great deal (as is true of so many others), about the terrible tragedy of San Bernardino--and the sickness, the cancer, that is terrorism.
_____________________

Tonight is also the first night of Chanukah--and my very best wishes to everyone who is observing the holiday.  

Chanukah is of course also known as the Festival of Lights.  In my own home, I would like to think that the lights of Chanukah, set on a table at the kitchen window, can--in addition to their traditional meanings--serve as at least one symbolic counterpoint to the darkness of terror.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Good news about the S.S. United States

New York Times story:  "Donations Help the S.S. United States Fend Off the Scrapyard."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/business/donations-help-a-rusting-oceanliner-fend-off-the-scrapyard.html
 
"(I)n recent weeks," the Times reports, "the ship’s existential crisis attracted donors from around the world who have contributed more than $600,000, buying time for the preservationist group, the S.S. United States Conservancy, to press ahead with a plan to redevelop the vessel.

"The donations — including an anonymous gift of $250,000 — will cover the cost of caring for the ship 'well into next year,' said Susan Gibbs, the conservancy’s executive director."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Paris

One's sadness, the mournfulness, continues (as does one's deep sense of solidarity), concerning Paris.

And the ongoing solidarity one feels:  the solidarity against the murderous sociopathy, the staggering cruelty, the evil, that is ISIS (and Al Qaeda, and other like-minded jihadist groups).

And solidarity, too, against those who may not take part, directly--but who support, justify, glorify such evil.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Update: S.S. United States

As a result of funds raised by the S.S. United States Conservancy, the ship has been given (at the very least) a temporary reprieve.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/11/ss_united_states_officals_donations_keep_ships_lif.html

https://www.facebook.com/SSUSC/?fref=ts

Monday, October 26, 2015

"NBC Nightly News," and the S.S. United States

There was a piece on Monday's "NBC Nightly News," by reporter Rehema Ellis, about the S.S. United States: 

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/keeping-hope-afloat-iconic-american-ship-n451626

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The S.S. United States, in trouble

The ship--as has been the case before--is facing possible demise.  Here are two recent news stories:

http://www.history.com/news/ss-united-states-may-be-sold-for-scrap?cmpid=Social_Facebook_SiteShare

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/business/friends-of-the-ss-united-states-send-out-a-last-sos.html

Here, too, is the Facebook page of the S.S. United States Conservancy, the group which currently owns the ship, and which has for years been advocating on its behalf:

https://www.facebook.com/SSUSC?fref=ts

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Your Hit Parade

The radio show Your Hit Parade began airing in 1935.  In the summer of 1950, the show came to television; during the summer, there were four experimental telecasts of the program, on NBC.

The television show began airing regularly on NBC on October 7, 1950--65 years ago today.

The program starred singers Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, and Dorothy Collins; the show's "Lucky Strike Orchestra" was led by musician, composer and bandleader Raymond Scott. Also prominently featured were the Hit Paraders, the show's choral group, and the Hit Parade dancers. Andre Baruch was the program's announcer.  The show aired each week following NBC's Your Show of Shows.

My mother, Sue Bennett, became a part of the cast in early 1951. At first, she performed with singer Russell Arms, and others, in the show's "extravaganza" commercials for Lucky Strike; the commercials featured singing and dancing. She later became a featured singer on the program, and remained with the show until the close of the 1951-1952 season.
















(Pictured:  Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, and Dorothy Collins, the primary singing stars of Your Hit Parade from 1950 to 1952. Wilson left the program in 1952; Lanson and Collins remained until 1957. Collins also starred in a 1958-1959 version of the program, with singer Johnny Desmond.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis

Am deeply moved, watching Pope Francis on television--seeing the beneficence, the cheerfulness, the kindheartedness he extends.  His visit is remarkable, and inspiring.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rosh Hashanah

To my friends who are observing the holiday...Happy New Year...

Friday, September 11, 2015


 

(Photograph, circa 1978; used by permission of artist Jenny Lynn.)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Morgan White, Jr., WBZ-AM

My friend Morgan White, Jr. is sitting in tonight for Bradley Jay, on Bradley's Jay Talking program (midnight-5 a.m.), on Boston's WBZ NewsRadio.

Morgan's own program, The Morgan Show, airs Saturday nights on WBZ, from 10 to midnight. Yet for many years he's also been a regular guest host on WBZ--appearing, most often, on the station's overnight shows.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/personality/morgan-white-jr/

http://player.radio.com/listen/station/wbz-newsradio-1030

Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention--organized and overseen, each year, by Martin and Michelle Grams--is approaching.  It is taking place September 17-19, in Hunt Valley, Maryland.  This is the convention's tenth year.

http://mgram1.wix.com/nostalgia-convention/hotel/

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Singer Artie Malvin

In April, I wrote about the passing of Ray Charles--often called the "other" Ray Charles.  He was a prominent vocal arranger, composer, singer and leader of the vocal/choral group The Ray Charles Singers.

After Mr. Charles died, I had an e-mail exchange with Jan Malvin.  Her mother, Irene Malvin, and her late father, the singer Artie Malvin, were close friends with Ray Charles and Charles's late wife Bernice.   

In a more recent exchange, I asked Jan Malvin if she could send me a photograph or two of her father and Ray Charles.  She sent the picture below, which is from the 1980s or early 1990s. 

(Artie Malvin, left, and Ray Charles)















Artie Malvin worked with Ray Charles for years--in recording sessions, and as one of the "Hit Paraders," the vocal/choral group on the 1950s television show Your Hit Parade.  The Hit Paraders--like Charles's own Ray Charles Singers--were hired by Charles, were overseen by him, and he wrote all of the group's arrangements.   

The Hit Paraders were a key part of the TV program--and not only vocally.  In addition to singing on the show--both on-camera, and off-camera--members of the Hit Paraders routinely acted in the show's musical production numbers (as did the show's dancers).

Mr. Malvin joined the cast of the Hit Parade in 1950, the year the television program went on the air.  He remained with the show for much of the 1950s.  My mother, Sue Bennett, knew him well, from her time on the Hit Parade (1951-1952), and spoke of him with great fondness.              

Mr. Malvin was one of the best known of the TV show's Hit Paraders--having been a vocalist, in the early 1940s, with Claude Thornhill's orchestra, and later (as Cpl. Artie Malvin), singing with Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band.   

After World War Two, Mr. Malvin sang with Tex Beneke, who had taken the helm of Glenn Miller's orchestra.  (In 2013, the CD label "Sounds Of Yesteryear" released a collection featuring Mr. Malvin's vocals with Glenn Miller and Tex Beneke:  http://www.amazon.com/Sings-Glenn-Millers-Orchestra-Forces/dp/B00DSAUNQ0/ )

Here is one of the songs Mr. Malvin sang with Glenn Miller. It's a wonderful recording, and is from the CD Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band (Laserlight Digital).  The song, by Frank Loesser, is "What Do You Do in the Infantry."  The vocal group singing with Mr. Malvin--a group he organized, and sang with--is The Crew Chiefs. 


Here, too, is the link to a film of a lovely 1946 version of the Miller hit "Serenade in Blue," as performed by Tex Beneke and The Glenn Miller Orchestra, with Mr. Malvin handling the lead vocal.  


And this is another song from 1946--"One More Tomorrow"-- featuring the singing of Mr. Malvin:


Beginning in the later 1950s, Malvin's oversaw his own vocal/choral group, and it was featured on various television programs. As noted in the Tim Brooks and Earl Marsh television encyclopedia, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (Ballantine Books), "The Artie Malvin Singers" were featured on The Julius La Rosa Show (1957, NBC), on Steve Allen Presents The Steve Lawrence-Eydie Gorme Show (NBC, 1958), and (as "The Artie Malvin Chorus") on The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom (1958-1960).  In the early 1980s, Mr. Malvin's singers were featured on CBS's The Tim Conway Show

In 1957, bandleader Jimmy Dorsey's record, "So Rare"--featuring Mr. Malvin's singers--was released.  It was a big hit, reaching #2 on the music charts; this was a couple of months before Mr. Dorsey's death.  


The recording, Wikipedia notes, "became the highest charting song by a big band during the first decade of the rock and roll era." 

During the 1950s, Mr. Malvin was known for his cover recordings of hits by Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, and others.  In the 1950s, too, he appeared often on children's records, and through the years sang on many national television and radio commercials. 

In the 1970s, he won two Emmy Awards (and was nominated for another), for special musical material he wrote for The Carol Burnett Show; he worked on the show from 1967 until 1978, the entire time the program aired.  He also received an Emmy nomination for musical material he wrote for a 1967 Frank Sinatra TV special, which also starred Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim. 

In 1980, he was nominated for a Tony Award, for music and lyrics he contributed to the well-known Broadway revue Sugar Babies, which had made its debut in 1979, and which ran until 1982.

I would have loved to have had the chance to talk with Mr. Malvin.  In 2005, while rewriting my book about early television--a book I had originally completed in the 1980s, but which did not reach publication at the time--I tried to interview him.  He was not well, however, and was therefore unable to speak with me.  He passed away in 2006, at age 83.

(Photograph of Artie Malvin and Ray Charles, courtesy of Jan Malvin; still image of Artie Malvin taken from film of Tex Beneke and The Glenn Miller Orchestra, via YouTube)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Tickets, and Souvenirs

A story in The New York Times, about tickets for baseball games--and some of the modern equivalents (via smartphones, and computer print-outs):

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/03/sports/baseball/as-bar-codes-replace-tickets-something-is-lost-before-the-first-pitch.html

Friday, June 26, 2015

Orson Welles, follow-up

I noted, in a posting yesterday, that the organizers of the Orson Welles-related crowdfunding campaign--a project undertaken to raise funds to complete Welles's 1970s film The Other Side of the Wind--are seeking $1 million for the project; originally, the goal had been $2 million.  

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/finish-orson-welles-last-film#/story

In a news update on the campaign's Indiegogo page, six days ago, the project's organizers announced that they had secured a matching grant.  If the $1 million goal is met, when the fundraising period concludes in nine days, the project, according to the organizers, will be receiving an additional $1 million from the unnamed donor. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Orson Welles: "The Other Side of the Wind," and autobiographic fragments

A fundraising effort has been underway since May--via the crowdfunding site Indiegogo--to complete The Other Side of the Wind, the unfinished 1970s film by Orson Welles.


A May 7th New York Times article about the effort noted that the producers involved with the film project--as well as Peter Bogdanovich, one of the film's stars--were "hoping to raise at least $2 million by June 14 to help pay for editing, music and other postproduction costs."


As of this writing, more than $275,000 has been raised.  The financial goal has been revised;  $1 million is now being sought.  The fundraising period, too, has been extended; it will end in ten days.  I am hopeful that the campaign will reach its goal.

(A note about this particular fundraiser: it is described, on its Indiegogo page, as a "flexible funding" project.  Unlike some crowdfunding efforts, in which donors only pay if the financial target is reached, all of the funds pledged to the Orson Welles project-- whether the $1 million goal is achieved, or not--will be allotted to the campaign.)

In recent years I've become increasingly interested in the work and life of Mr. Welles--drawn in particular to his extraordinary film career, as director, writer, and actor. Recently, after watching films by Welles, on television (such as The Stranger, The Magnificent Ambersons,  and A Touch of Evil), I have consulted--with enjoyment--the book This is Orson Welles, to learn more about the particular films.  The book, which first appeared in 1992, features lengthy conversations about Welles's work, between Welles and Peter Bogdanovich  (Mr. Bogdanovich, of course, is himself known as the director of such exceptional films as Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show, and What's Up Doc?). 


Another story about Mr. Welles, by the way, recently appeared in the news.  As a May 20th New York Times article noted:  "Archivists at the University of Michigan said this week that they have discovered extensive fragments of, and notes for, a Welles autobiography in a trove of papers newly purchased from Oja Kodar. Ms. Kodar, a Croatian actress, was Welles’s companion in the years before he died in 1985."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/movies/archivists-find-fragments-of-an-unfinished-orson-welles-autobiography.html?ref=books

(Image above: cover of 1998 edition of This is Orson Welles, published by Da Capo Press)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Radiogram, SPERDVAC, and Books

It's always a pleasure receiving my copy of Radiogram, the Old-Time Radio magazine/newsletter; eleven issues are published each year, by the California-based OTR organization SPERDVAC (the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy).  The June issue arrived with today's mail, and I look forward to reading it.

Radiogram is edited by Patrick Lucanio.  Dr. Lucanio's books include two written with Gary Coville: the 1998 book American Science Fiction Television Series of the 1950s (published by McFarland), and 2002's Smokin' Rockets: The Romance of Technology in American Film, Radio and Television, 1945-1962, also brought out by McFarland. (In 2009, by the way, Mr. Coville wrote a kind review of my book, in Radiogram.)

Dr. Lucanio is also the author of 1987's Them or Us: Archetypal Interpretations of Fifties Alien Invasion Film, published by Indiana University Press.

Here are the amazon.com links for the above books:

 


The cost of a subscription to Radiogram is $15 per year.  Additional information about the publication can be found on the SPERDVAC website:


(Above image:  November/December 2014 issue of Radiogram)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bob Schieffer

Bob Schieffer's last Face the Nation broadcast takes place Sunday morning, on CBS.  Mr. Schieffer is retiring, after a long and very distinguished career.  I've admired him for years; he's a superb reporter, political analyst, anchorman, and host. Like many other television viewers, I will miss watching him.

Here's a story about Mr. Schieffer, and his career, from Friday's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/30/business/media/bob-schieffer-of-face-the-nation-prepares-to-sign-off.html

By the way, I recommend Mr. Schieffer's 2003 memoir, This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV.

http://www.amazon.com/This-Just-What-Couldnt-Tell/dp/0399149716/

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Snooky Lanson Fan Club

For sale on ebay: a "Snooky Lanson Fan Club" button.  The date of the button is not specified, but one assumes it was produced during the period Lanson sang on Your Hit Parade, on NBC-TV.  He starred on the program from 1950 until 1957.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1950s-Snooky-Lanson-Fan-Club-Your-Hit-Parade-Pin-Back-Button-/251972895586?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3aaac14362

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The S.S. United States, and Your Hit Parade


I've written previously, here, about the last telecast of NBC's Your Hit Parade, for the 1951-1952 season. The broadcast took place on the S.S. United States luxury liner, five days before the ship's maiden voyage. 

I recently came across this button, which had been in a drawer at my father's apartment, along with old family photos, letters, keepsakes, and the like. 

I don't know if such buttons were used by Hit Parade cast and crew members, during the days of rehearsals leading up to the S.S. United States broadcast, or on the day of the broadcast itself.  Yet the word "Staff," or a similar designation, does not appear on the button; perhaps, therefore, it was a souvenir for audience members who attended the telecast.  Whatever its purpose, I like how it looks. 

The button, by the way, is indicative of the following, about the Hit Parade:  the program had different names.  On the air, the TV show was introduced, and referred to, as "Your Hit Parade" (announcer Andre Baruch said, at the outset of each program: "Lucky Strike Presents...Your Hit Parade!").  Yet the program was also spoken of, colloquially, as "The Lucky Strike Hit Parade"--and was also called, as seen on the button, above, "Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade." There was also, indeed, the shorthand version of the name: "The Hit Parade." (One recalls the opening words to the theme song of television's All in the Family: "Boy the way Glenn Miller played/Songs that made the Hit Parade...")

The use of multiple names was, similarly, attached to the radio version of the Hit Parade, which aired from 1935 until 1953.  It, too, was officially titled Your Hit Parade, and was referred to, on the air, as such.  Yet there were, as well, the variant usages.

A current auction on ebay, for example, is for a promotional item for the radio program--a matchbook cover (see left), featuring bandleader Mark Warnow;  he led the orchestra on the Hit Parade radio show for a number of years. The matchbook cover refers to "Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade." (In 1949, when Warnow died, his role as orchestra leader on the show was taken over by his younger brother, Raymond Scott.  Mr. Scott also joined the TV version of the show, when it began airing in 1950.)

Here is the link for the ebay auction:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MATCHBOOK-COVER-LUCKY-STRIKE-HIT-PARADE-/371008654858?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5661d6ce0a

Friday, May 8, 2015

Another photograph

This blog is often concerned with commemoration.  I am aware that it is also, not infrequently (and perhaps increasingly so), about loss.

Here is another photo of my mother, this one from later years. The picture, which she used professionally, is undated, but I believe it is from the late 1980s or early 1990s.

She died in 2001 (fourteen years ago today), at age 73. I continue to be routinely and deeply aware of her absence, of the loss.

Sue Bennett, 1949, Kay Kyser Show

I recently found this nice photograph, on ebay; I had never seen it before.  It is of my mother, from the end of 1949.  She was twenty-one, at the time the picture was taken, and was one of the featured singers on Kay Kyser's new weekly television program on NBC; the show began airing at the start of December, that year.  My parents had been married in August.

She sang on Kay Kyser's show until the end of 1950, when the program went off the air.

(Photo:  NBC-TV)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Zorro









  





This is a 2013 picture of Zorro.  He died a year ago this past Sunday, at age seventeen.  He was gentle, sweet, and beautiful, and I miss him a great deal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jack Ely, of The Kingsmen

Jack Ely, the singer on the great 1963 Kingsmen song "Louie Louie," died on Tuesday, at 71.

I cannot count the number of conversations (sometimes, near-debates) in childhood--and into adulthood--with people I knew, regarding what they believed, and what I believed, the words of the song were. We were all wrong.

The New York Times obituary about Mr. Ely, by Sam Roberts (see link below), notes the following, about the song, and about Richard Berry, who wrote it (and originally recorded it, in 1957): "Mr. Berry’s words, with a first verse that begins, 'Fine little girl she wait for me/Me catch the ship for ’cross the sea,' are in fact completely benign. Whatever obscenities people thought they heard, the Kingsmen’s version hewed closely to the original — lyrically if not musically."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/30/arts/music/jack-ely-who-sang-the-kingsmens-louie-louie-dies-at-71.html?ref=obituaries

Here is the song--first, as recorded by the Kingsmen, and then, the version by Richard Berry (and The Pharaohs):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7npccwCPvU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxedxkx88t0

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The "Other" Ray Charles

In my previous post, I wrote about Milton DeLugg, who died on April 6th, at age 96.  On the same day Mr. DeLugg died, I was sad to learn, Ray Charles died.  He was also 96.



Mr. Charles--often referred to as "the other Ray Charles"--was remarkably talented.  He was a vocal arranger, composer, conductor, writer of special musical material, and singer;  he was, notably, the leader of the vocal/choral group The Ray Charles Singers, well-known for its long association with Perry Como.  

Mr. Charles's voice is no doubt most widely known because of a television theme song he sang (with Julia Rinker Miller): the theme to the 1970s and '80s TV show Three's Company ("Come and Knock on Our Door").   

In the 1970s and 1980s, he was affiliated with such programs as The Muppets, and Sha-Na-Na.  A brief tune he wrote for Perry Como's TV show--"Letters, We Get Letters"--was later used, for years, on David Letterman's program.  For three decades, beginning in the early 1980s, he served as a musical consultant to the Kennedy Center Honors programs.

In addition to appearing for many years with Perry Como--on Mr. Como's TV shows, and on his records--The Ray Charles Singers accompanied countless other vocalists, on records.  There were also many Ray Charles Singers albums, over the years, and a song recorded by the group, "Love Me with All Your Heart," was a big hit in 1964. 

As I wrote in my book:

The Ray Charles Singers was not a fixed entity, but an umbrella name for a group which changed according to musical circumstances. A particular group of singers might be hired for Perry Como’s TV show (Charles himself was not one of the singers on Como’s TV program), while other singers—perhaps including Charles himself—might be used for recording dates.

For much of the 1950s, Mr. Charles was the vocal arranger on TV's Your Hit Parade; he worked on the program at the same time that he was a part of Perry Como's TV show. On the Hit Parade, he created vocal arrangements for both the show's featured singers, and for the program's vocal/choral group, The Hit Paraders.  In addition to writing the Hit Paraders' vocal arrangements, Mr. Charles hired the singers in the group, and oversaw their work.

During her years in New York, my mother worked with Mr. Charles in a few capacities: in 1951 and 1952, when she was a vocalist on Your Hit Parade; in 1949 (as noted recently, in this space), as one of his Ray Charles Singers, on the CBS-TV variety show Inside USA with Chevrolet; and as one of The Ray Charles Singers in a handful of recording sessions.

I first interviewed Mr. Charles in 1979, in Warwick, Rhode Island.  He and a group of his singers were touring with Perry Como, who was appearing at the Warwick Musical Theatre; at the time I lived nearby, in Providence.  Mr. Como's opening act, at the time, was comedian Jay Leno, who was twenty-nine years old.  

I interviewed Mr. Charles again in 2005, two years before my book came out.  The interviews he gave me added a great deal, I believe, to the book.  I am very thankful for the time he gave me, and for the insights, and memories, that he shared with me.

He joined the Hit Parade TV show, as vocal arranger, in 1950, the year the program came to television.  The following is from my book: 

“The camaraderie on the Hit Parade was quite incredible,” he told me. “It was really a family, because there were no stars. Dorothy [Collins] was new, Snooky [Lanson] was new. In the beginning, the first year or two, I can’t remember, Eileen Wilson was the other lady singer. . . Then Russell [Arms] and Sue [Bennett] did commercials, then they started crossing over into doing productions, the songs. And really, for about, I would say at least three years, it really was a marvelous family. And then, I don’t know, it kind of—it happens, I suppose, where the closeness goes. . . . But it was a constant party the first three years. After every show we would go to somebody’s house, somebody would have a party . . . ”  Each week, he said, “we would watch a kinescope of the previous week’s show. And it was like a picnic, you’d yell and scream. This was a new medium to everybody, and they wanted to watch and see what they were doing, if they were doing it right, how they could improve, and we were all very interested . . . . But it was fun, because we would applaud and talk and laugh. It was home movies, really, is what it was.”

Here is a link to a previous post, about a photograph (either from 1950 or 1951) of the cast of Your Hit Parade.  The show's Hit Paraders, at the time, are identified, including singers Artie Malvin, Gene Lowell, Hubie Hendrie, Geri Beitzel, and Rae Whitney. 


Here too, is a very enjoyable video of Perry Como and The Ray Charles Singers--singing "Papa Loves Mambo"--from a 1954 Perry Como program.  This is followed by the link to a prior post I wrote about the video.


http://andrewleefielding.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-like-this-video-made-from-1954.html

The YouTube link that follows is of Mr. Charles and Julia Rinker Miller singing the theme to Three's Company:


Lastly, here is the link to a Facebook page about The Ray Charles Singers;  I borrowed the photo of Mr. Charles, above, from the Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Milton DeLugg

I was very saddened to learn, yesterday (via Bobby Ellerbee's "Eyes of a Generation" Facebook page), about the death, on Monday, of Milton DeLugg.  

Mr. DeLugg, who was 96, was an enormously talented man--a bandleader, musician, songwriter, arranger, producer. 

I remain very grateful that I was able to interview him, for my 2007 book about early television.  We spoke a few times, a couple of years before the book came out.  He was extremely kind, cheerful, and gracious. 

My mother worked with Mr. DeLugg, in the fall of 1952, on Morey Amsterdam's local New York TV show, Breakfast with Music.  The show aired weekday mornings, after the Today show, on station WNBT (now WNBC).  Mr. DeLugg led the show's small musical ensemble.

Mr. DeLugg wrote a number of hit songs, in the early 1950s--including "Be My Life's Companion" (written with Bob Hilliard), "Hoop-Dee-Doo" (with Frank Loesser), and "Shanghai" (with Bob Hilliard).  "Orange Colored Sky," a hit in 1950, was written by Mr. DeLugg and Willie Stein.  

In a 2010 post, I wrote the following, about "Orange Colored Sky":

In 1950, DeLugg was the bandleader on (and was well-known for playing the accordion on) network TV’s first late-night hit show, Broadway Open House. He played “Orange Colored Sky” regularly on the program.

The star of
Broadway Open House, comedian Jerry Lester, recorded a version of the song, prior to the recording made famous by Nat King Cole and Stan Kenton. A version was also recorded by Betty Hutton.

In their book, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (Ballantine Books, several editions), authors Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh write that DeLugg’s frequent performances of “Orange Colored Sky,” on Broadway Open House, led to this distinction: that it was “probably the first song ever to become a hit through television exposure.”

Here is the song, as recorded (so beautifully) by Nat King Cole, and Stan Kenton's orchestra:


Here, too, is a video of Mr. DeLugg accompanying Al Jolson in August of 1949, during a Chicago appearance:  


According to the description of the video, on YouTube, Al Jolson's appearance in Chicago was part of a tour related to the release of the movie Jolson Sings Again, which starred Larry Parks, as Jolson; the film (released the same month as the Chicago performance) was the sequel to 1946's The Jolson Story.  Mr. DeLugg was seen briefly in Jolson Sings Again: he played the accordion, with a small musical group, during a Jolson appearance at an overseas military post.  Here is a link to the film; Mr. DeLugg is seen at about 28:30.


Please note not simply the skill, but the verve, and the swinging style, with which Mr. DeLugg played the accordion in the film's scene. Indeed, Mr. DeLugg told me that he sought to bring to the instrument--an instrument he began playing in his teens--something of the musical style, the musical feeling, of Benny Goodman's band. "I was so struck by that wonderful band, and the swing music, and I was trying to play accordion like that."

Here, lastly, is the Wikipedia page about Mr. DeLugg:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

On St. Patrick's Day, in recent years, I have posted an audio link to a segment of a performance, by my mother, on the NBC television show Your Hit Parade.  I am doing so again today.

The song--"It's a Great Day for the Irish"--aired on the March 15, 1952 telecast of the Hit Parade.  My mother was joined, in the performance, by the show's wonderful vocal chorus, The Hit Paraders. The show's "Lucky Strike Orchestra" was led by the great Raymond Scott.

http://www.luckystrikepapers.com/images/Great_Day_For_The_Irish,_NBC-TV,_1952.wav

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Commercial jingle, from the 1960s

For decades, commercial jingles were popular on radio and television.  Here is one of the many jingles my mother recorded during her voice-over career in Boston (a career which took hold in the 1960s and ended a year or so before her death in 2001). 

The jingle is for "Child Mild Gem Franks," and it aired on Boston radio for a number of years, beginning (as I recall) in the early 1960s.  I remember hearing it (and enjoying it) routinely, during childhood.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Sue Bennett Show," Boston's WBZ-TV, 1954-1955

This is an advertisement from the February 5-11, 1954 issue of TV Guide (the New England edition).

The ad refers to my mother's new weekly musical show on Boston's Channel 4, WBZ-TV; the program aired until the spring of 1955.  The show was fifteen minutes long, and featured my mother's singing, as well as the singing of a vocal group, The Freddy Guerra Trio.

In addition to his work as a singer, Mr. Guerra was a saxophonist and clarinetist, and played, notably, with Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band, during World War Two.  Later, for many years, he was a prominent bandleader in the Boston area.  (Mr. Guerra's first name was sometimes spelled "Freddie," as in the TV Guide advertisement. The other spelling appeared in a newspaper advertisement, below.)

Here is a newspaper story about Mr. Guerra, following his death in 2003:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Freddy-Guerra-WWII-draftee-in-Glenn-Miller-band-2615231.php









Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Inside USA with Chevrolet," additional picture

This is another photograph from the magazine article, referred to in the prior post, about Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, and their early television show Inside USA with Chevrolet (1949-1950, CBS-TV).

The picture features, left-to-right, the television show's producer (and the noted composer) Arthur Schwartz; Mary Healy; and Peter Lind Hayes.  As the caption notes, of Schwartz, Healy, and Hayes:  "All have discovered that this new medium demands terrific stamina."

(As noted in the previous post, I do not know who took the magazine story's photographs.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Entertainer Mary Healy (1918-2015)

Actress and entertainer Mary Healy died on February 3rd, at 96.  She and her late husband, Peter Lind Hayes, were a popular performing team--which included working in early television (and beyond). 


Peter Lind Hayes starred, and Mary Healy co-starred, on the CBS-TV variety program Inside USA with Chevrolet, in 1949 and 1950.  In 1951 and 1952, they starred together on the CBS comedy/interview/variety program Star of the Family.  From 1950-1951, Ms. Healy joined her husband on The Peter Lind Hayes Show, an NBC situation comedy, and in 1960 and 1961 they starred in the NBC show Peter Loves Mary, also a situation comedy.  Mr. Hayes died in 1998, at age 82. 

There are a handful of people I regret not interviewing, for my book about early television.  Two of them were the talented and likeable Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy.

My mother was involved, briefly, with one of their shows (Inside USA with Chevrolet), and later made a guest appearance on another (Star of the Family). 

I would like to have spoken with them in particular about Inside USA. The show, which featured music, comedy, and dance, was a travelogue program, of sorts, about America, and aired every other week. In addition to Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy, the program featured actress Mary Wickes, and dancers Sheila Bond and Danny Daniels.  Guest stars on the show included Lucille Ball, Oscar Levant and David Niven, and the show's producer was the prominent songwriter Arthur Schwartz; with lyricist Howard Dietz, he composed such songs as "Dancing in the Dark," and "That's Entertainment."  Mr. Schwartz had also been the producer of the 1948-1949 Broadway musical revue Inside USA, which had been derived from the John Gunther book of the same name.

The television show went on the air in September of 1949; my mother became a part of the show not long afterwards.  She sang with the show's vocal group, overseen by vocal arranger and singer Ray Charles (often called the other Ray Charles). The Ray Charles Singers were featured in production numbers on the show, and sang the program's Chevrolet jingle, "See The USA in Your Chevrolet." 

My mother left the program at the end of November, that year, to become one of the featured singers on bandleader Kay Kyser's new TV show on NBC.

In 1952 she appeared as a guest on the Hayes and Healy show Star of the Family. This was a couple of days before her last appearance on Your Hit Parade.  Star of the Family featured not only entertainers, but members of their families, who were interviewed.  My father appeared on the show, and spoke with Mary Healy about my mother's career.  The other guest entertainers on the episode (which was, as it happens, the last broadcast of the series) were comedian Jack E. Leonard, and singer Bill Kenny, of The Ink Spots.

Here is the amazon link to a book by Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy, about their show business careers; it was brought out in 2004.


(The photograph, above, is from a magazine story about Inside USA with Chevrolet, either from 1949 or 1950, and features, left-to-right, Mary Healy, Peter Lind Hayes, guest star David Niven, and Mary Wickes.  I got the article on ebay, some time ago--simply the article, not the full magazine--and do not know what magazine the story was from; I also do not know who took the photograph.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"I Should Have Known Better"

Have always enjoyed this scene, featuring the great song "I Should Have Known Better," from The Beatles film A Hard Day's Night.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTYr2XtGGRk

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Restored Antique Radios"

Saw this today.  They are offered by The New York Times Store:

http://www.nytstore.com/Antique-Radios