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: