Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Science on Radio and Television

In 2011, on my "Radio Once More" program, I interviewed historian (and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution Archives) Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Ph.D.

We spoke about her 2008 book, Science on the Air: Popularizers and Personalities on Radio and Early Television (University of Chicago Press).

I enjoyed the book very much, and would like to make note of Dr. LaFollette's latest book, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press on December 21st.  The book is titled Science on American Television: A History.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another "Evening of Old-Time Radio," with Johnny and Helen Holmes

In October, in this space, I wrote about my friends Johnny and Helen Holmes; they were hosting a Halloween-themed "Evening of Old-Time Radio," at The Daily Grind coffeehouse, in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

On Friday, from 6-9 p.m., they will be appearing again at The Daily Grind.

This week's event is titled "Home for the Holidays," and will feature Christmas-oriented radio programs:  "Miracle on 34th Street," from the Lux Radio Theater; a Jack Benny Christmas program; and "A Christmas Carol," from The Campbell Playhouse.

The Daily Grind is located at 48 High Street, in Mount Holly. The phone number is: (609) 267-8330.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Hit Parade Dancers," 1952

Here is another television-screen image, of Your Hit Parade, from the spring of 1952 (photographer unknown).  The picture is of the "Hit Parade Dancers"; I am fairly sure they are dancing to the song "Blue Tango."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snooky Lanson, "Your Hit Parade," 1952

In October, I posted an image from 1952, of the TV show Your Hit Parade

The photograph was of a television screen, taken as the program aired. (As mentioned previously, the picture was part of a group of photos I found this year, at my father's apartment, but I do not know who took them.)

Here is another TV-screen photo, from the same group of pictures.  It is of Snooky Lanson, one of the stars of the Hit Parade, singing on a telecast in the spring of 1952.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Interview with Maria Mazziotti Gillan

A week ago, on my “Radio Once More” program, I interviewed the poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

We spoke about her latest book of poetry, The Place I Call Home, published in September by New York Quarterly Books.

Ms. Gillan, who has written fifteen books of poetry, is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Binghamton University-State University of New York, and is the Founder and Executive Director of The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey. Gillan, who grew up in Paterson, is also the editor of the Paterson Literary Review.

Her web address is:

Here, as well, is the amazon link for The Place I Call Home:

One of the subjects we discussed, during the interview, was the radio programs which were a part of her childhood. As part of the interview, she read a radio-related poem, “I Grew Up with Tom Mix"; the poem is from her new book.

The interview, which can be heard at the following link, is approximately forty-five minutes long.

(Audio of interview, copyright “Radio Once More,”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interview with writer Janis Johnson, about Hometowns, and "The Artist's Eye"

I’ve posted previously about California-based writer, and communications consultant, Janis Johnson.

During her career as a journalist, she was on the staff of The Washington Post, was a correspondent for USA Today, and wrote for other major U.S. newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Johnson has appeared on my weekly radio program, on the Internet station “Radio Once More,” on a few occasions. Her 2010 book, which features the artwork of her late father, Vernon P. Johnson, is titled The Artist’s Eye: Vernon P. Johnson’s Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America.

Here is one of the interviews with Johnson. The conversation (which is approximately thirty-five minutes long) took place in May of this year, and we talked about the subject of hometowns—including, of course, her hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio. Most of her father’s watercolors, in The Artist’s Eye, are of Mount Vernon.

For additional information about The Artist’s Eye, please click on this link:

Here, too, is the book’s page:

Lastly, here is the link for the book’s publisher, the Knox County Historical Society, in Ohio:

(Audio of interview, copyright "Radio Once More,"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Your Hit Parade, NBC-TV, 1952

I recently found some photos at my father’s apartment. I had never seen them before.

The pictures, taken of a television screen, are from Your Hit Parade, in 1952. I don’t know who took them.

The picture, here, is of Eileen Wilson, Dorothy Collins, and my mother (Sue Bennett). They were singing “Tea for Two.” (My mother made note of the song title, in pen, in the border of the picture.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Johnny and Helen Holmes, and OTR

This Friday, October 12th (from 6-8 p.m.), my friends Johnny and Helen Holmes, of Mount Holly, New Jersey, will be hosting an evening of Old-Time Radio.

The pre-Halloween event (it is being called "Fright Night") will be taking place at a Mount Holly coffee house, The Daily Grind. 

As part of the event, Johnny and Helen will be playing three well-known Old-Time Radio broadcasts:  "The Hitchhiker," from the program Suspense, "Valse Triste," from the series Lights Out, and "Three Skeleton Key," from the program Escape.

The Daily Grind is located at 48 High Street, in Mount Holly.  The phone number is: (609) 267-8330.

If you're in (or near) the Mount Holly area on Friday, I hope you'll attend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Garry Berman

In the previous post, I referred to author Garry Berman; in 2011 he came out with an enjoyable book about comedian and actor Ed Wynn (Perfect Fool: The Life and Career of Ed Wynn).

I neglected, in the post, to include Berman's web address.  It is:

The site features information about Berman's other books--including one about The Beatles that I'm planning on reading.  Its title:  We're Going to See the Beatles!:  An Oral History of Beatlemania as Told by the Fans Who Were There (Santa Monica Press, 2008). 

Here is the amazon link for the book:

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Center Theatre

This is a photograph of New York City's Center Theatre, which in the early 1950s, having been taken over by NBC, was the home of a number of NBC-TV programs; NBC shows began originating from the theatre in 1950.  (The photograph is from the web site

I recently interviewed author Garry Berman, on my weekly "Radio Once More" program; we discussed his 2011 book, Perfect Fool: The Life and Career of Ed Wynn (BearManor Media).

Berman writes, in his book, about The Center Theatre; Ed Wynn performed at the theatre in 1950 and 1951, when he was one of the rotating hosts/stars of NBC's Four Star Revue. The other hosts of the television program, in the 1950-1951 season, were Danny Thomas, Jimmy Durante, and Jack Carson.

My mother sang in the theatre in 1951 and 1952, on Your Hit Parade. She also sang there in 1951, on the Freddy Martin television show, on which she appeared as a regular guest.

The TV version of the Hit Parade had originally been broadcast from New York's International Theatre, during the summer of 1950.

The International Theatre had also been acquired by NBC, and, as was the case with The Center Theatre, had been converted into a television broadcast facility. Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, which went on the air in early 1950, was broadcast from The International Theatre. (My mother sang at the theatre in 1949 and 1950, when she was a cast member of Kay Kyser's TV show.) 

In the summer of 1950, four experimental TV broadcasts of the Hit Parade were aired, and originated from The International Theatre. In October of 1950, when the Hit Parade joined NBC's weekly schedule, the show moved to The Center Theatre. The show was also broadcast from The Center Theatre for most of the 1951-1952 TV season; for part of the season, the program was moved to NBC's Studio 8-H, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

In 1954, The Center Theatre was demolished; the site was turned into an office building. The International Theatre was torn down the same year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

After learning of the death, at 82, of the heroic Neil Armstrong, I found a magazine I have, from 1965. It is titled “The United States Astronauts and Their Families,” and was published by the World Book Encyclopedia Science Services, Inc.

The picture below, and the accompanying biography, are from the section in the magazine about Armstrong, his wife, and children. At the time, as the magazine notes, Armstrong was 35 years old.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention is underway, in Hunt Valley, Maryland.  The convention, which continues until Saturday, is run by Martin and Michelle Grams.

I was fortunate to be at the convention on Wednesday night and Thursday, taking part in broadcasts on "Radio Once More," the Internet radio station (

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kay Kyser Show, and Ted Brown

To the left: a photograph of comedian and musician Merwyn Bogue (also known as Ish Kabibble), with singers Sue Bennett (left) and Liza Palmer (right).

The photo appeared in the January 7, 1950 issue of TeleVision Guide (which later became TV Guide), as part of an article about Kay Kyser and his NBC-TV program, the College of Musical Knowledge.

The Kay Kyser television show’s cast originally included three featured singers—Michael Douglas, my mother (Sue Bennett), and Liza Palmer. Ms. Palmer, however, left the program a couple of months after the TeleVision Guide article appeared.

Also featured on the show, during its first season: the vocal group The Honeydreamers, and announcer Ben Grauer (who also appeared in sketches on the program). The dance team of Diane Sinclair and Ken Spaulding joined the program early in 1950. Writers Eddie Lawrence and Bob Quigley were also featured in the program's sketches.

The Honeydreamers left the show at the end of the first season, as did Ben Grauer. Dancers Sinclair and Spaulding continued with the program during its second season (along with Michael Douglas, my mother, and Merwyn Bogue).  Eddie Lawrence and Bob Quigley continued to both write for and appear on the program, in its second season.

The announcer for the show’s second season was Ted Brown. Brown had appeared on the Dumont Television Network as an announcer, and had also starred, in 1949, on a Dumont Network children’s show, Birthday Party. Each telecast featured a birthday party for a child; Brown played the character “King Cole” (the show was also known as King Cole’s Birthday Party). Later, in 1954, Brown temporarily took over for “Buffalo Bob” Smith on Howdy Doody, when Smith left the show after suffering a heart attack. Brown starred as the character “Bison Bill.”

Brown later became one of New York’s most popular radio personalities, most notably at station WNEW.

(Photo above, of Ted Brown, from the 1984 book WNEW: Where The Melody Lingers On—1934-1984, written and published by Nightingale Gordon)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family television set

This is a photo from June, 1963 (or at least, that is the printing date, stamped at the top edge of the photo), taken in our family’s den. I am unsure, but believe it was taken by my brother, who the next month would turn ten. At the time, I was seven.

The photo (which is cropped, here) was probably intended to be a picture of a TV program in progress. I think I can make out the slightest suggestion of something on the screen, but I might be mistaken.

We had this TV set for years, and while I would not have recalled the set’s brand, it appears (if I’m reading correctly, at the lower left of the set) to have been a Magnavox. In the photo, my parents’ stereo sits on top of the set.

Looking at this picture, some time ago—looking at it closely for the first time in perhaps decades—I recalled the following: I remembered what turning the channel dial on the set felt like, the feeling of each channel clicking into place. I remember, too, quite clearly, the feeling of turning the dials on the stereo (which included, as I recall, dials for treble and bass), and hearing the changing nature of the sound, as a result.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Time Tunnel: A History of the Television Series," by Martin Grams, Jr.

A favorite television program, during childhood, was ABC's time-traveling series, The Time Tunnel, which aired in 1966 and 1967. 

Martin Grams, Jr., well-known for the many books he has written about old-time radio and classic television series, has just brought out a book about The Time Tunnel; it is published by BearManor Media.

Two of the featured guests at this year's Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (which is run by Martin Grams, and by his wife Michelle), will be the primary stars of The Time Tunnel, Robert Colbert and James Darren.

The convention will be taking place from August 9-11, in Hunt Valley, Maryland. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recommended Reading: "I Was Amelia Earhart," by Jane Mendelsohn

July 2nd (last Monday) was the 75th anniversary of the date, in 1937, when Amelia Earhart's plane went missing.

The day after the anniversary, an expedition began, to the island of Nikumaroro, in the Republic of Kiribati.  The wreckage of Earhart's plane is being sought, in the waters off the island.

(As the story below notes:  "Richard Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), theorizes Earhart's plane was washed off the reef by surf days after Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, landed on Nikumaroro, about 400 miles southeast of their Howland Island destination.")
Because of the 75th anniversary, and the new expedition, I decided to re-read a book I first read (and first enjoyed) several years ago:  the 1996 novel I was Amelia Earhart, by Jane Mendelsohn.
The book is beautifully imagined, with a lovely, rich and moving sense of voice  (or, voices; it is written in both the first and third person).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

S.S. United States, 1952, additional image

This is a photograph of the S.S. United States, at Pier 86, New York City, the day of its July 3, 1952 maiden voyage.

(Photo copyright UPI/Corbis-Bettmann, from a postcard published by Graphique de France, Boston, USA/Paris, France)

S.S. United States, July 3, 1952

On July 3, 1952 (sixty years ago today), the S.S. United States ocean liner began its maiden voyage, from New York to England.

The historic passenger ship, which went out of service in 1969, has been docked on the Philadelphia waterfront since the 1990s.

As I have noted, in previous posts, the S.S. United States plays a part in my book about early television.

On June 28, 1952, five days before the ship's maiden voyage, the last telecast of Your Hit Parade, for the 1951-1952 season, took place on the ship. (It was my mother's last appearance on the program.  She sang the song "I'm Yours" from the ship's wheelhouse.)

The S.S. United States Conservancy is an organization devoted to the ship's preservation. The group took ownership of the ocean liner in 2011, with the assistance of Philadelphia philanthropist H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest.

For more information about the Conservancy (and to learn more about the ship, and its history), please click on the following link:

(Black and white photograph, above, of NBC cameraman, and S.S. United States, June, 1952; used by permission of Lost Gold Entertainment, Inc.  Color photograph of S.S. United States, Philadelphia waterfront, January, 2008; copyright Jenny Lynn)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Maverick: Legend of the West"

Writer, commentator, and radio host Ed Robertson recently came out with a revised edition of his 1994 book about the television series Maverick.

The book, Maverick: Legend of the West, was published in May.

Here is the book’s page:

Robertson, who is a friend, has also written books about the television programs The Rockford Files and The Fugitive.  He is interviewed often about television-related matters, and is (as noted previously in this space) the host of the weekly radio talk show TV Confidential. 

More about Ed Robertson can be found at this link:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recommended Reading: "Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes," by Adam Ried

I’m not hosting my weekly radio show, tonight, on the Internet station “Radio Once More.” The show will return next week.

I’d like to mention, however, a very enjoyable book by an author who recently appeared on the program. (Actually, it was his second visit to the program.  He was a terrific guest on both occasions.)

Adam Ried is the cooking columnist for The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. His book, Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes, was first brought out in 2009 by the publisher W.W. Norton. The softcover edition of the book came out this month, also published by Norton.

The book includes recipes for familiar milkshakes—vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. Yet much of the book highlights the idea of what Ried calls “milkshake modernization.” The book, for example, presents recipes for “Mexican Chocolate Shake with Chipotle and Almond,” “Chocolate-Tangerine Shake,” “Chocolate-Guinness Shake,” “Peanut-Molasses Shake,” “Peach Shake with Brandy and Nutmeg,” and “Malted Caramel Shake.”

Here is the amazon link for the book:

Here, too, is the address for Adam Ried’s website:

(Above image: the cover of the softcover edition of Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Merwyn Bogue and Sue Bennett, Cleveland-area TV magazine, November, 1950

From the second season of Kay Kyser’s television show, on NBC: a photo of Ish Kabibble (Merwyn Bogue), and my mother, Sue Bennett, on a November, 1950 cover of TV Today, a television guide from the Cleveland area. The magazine also featured listings for television stations in Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit and Lansing, Michigan.

There was no story, inside the issue, about the Kay Kyser program (other than a brief description of the cover photo).

One brief feature in the issue (as noted on the magazine’s cover) concerned television’s “Worst Show.” Readers were asked to submit nominations; the winner of the contest was Mrs. A. L. McCleary of Detroit. She argued, in a letter to the magazine, that TV’s worst show was the quiz/game program Beat the Clock. (This, despite noting that she liked the show’s host—who, though unnamed in the letter, was Bud Collyer—“very much.” )

Though selecting her as the contest’s winner, the editors disagreed with her view of the program, writing that Beat the Clock was “pretty good entertainment.” (Incidentally, Mrs. McCleary, in her letter, made note of her fondness for other quiz shows—such as What’s My Line, Kay Kyser’s program, “and many others.”) The article is presented here via two scans.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Here are three images from 1950.  The first two are from a January, 1950 issue of TeleVision Guide, a New York-area magazine; the magazine later became TV Guide. Kay Kyser, whose television show had made its debut on NBC the month before, is featured on the cover. Also seen here:  the first page of the article about Kay Kyser, from inside the issue.  The photograph is of Kay Kyser and my mother.

In the third image, also from the time my mother sang on Kay Kyser's TV show, she is seen on the cover of TV Showtime, an Omaha-based television guide.  The issue is from May of 1950.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

President Kennedy

President Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917.

It is startling to realize that had JFK lived, he would, this week, have turned ninety-five years old.

(Above:  a postcard of the Kennedy home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.  I got the postcard in the 1960s, during childhood.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, and Dorothy Collins, "Your Hit Parade"

I recently bought this very nice photo, on ebay. It's of the primary singing stars of the NBC television show Your Hit Parade, from 1950 to 1952:  Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, and Dorothy Collins.  (The picture, unfortunately, has a number of dust spots--seen as white specks--on it.)

After the 1951-1952 TV season, Eileen Wilson left the program; she was replaced by singer June Valli. 

In the background of the picture, there is a television camera, with its side panel opened up.  At the time, the television cameras for New York-based NBC programs routinely displayed two labels:  "WNBT," and, beneath that, "NBC."  WNBT was the local New York NBC station; its name was later changed to WNBC.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Perry Como & The Ray Charles Singers, 1954

As noted in the prior post (about a photograph of Your Hit Parade, from 1950 or 1951), singer Marilyn Jackson (seen in the Hit Parade picture) was, at the time, one of The Ray Charles Singers, on Perry Como’s television show.

Here is a video (from a kinescope) of Perry Como, with The Ray Charles Singers (including Marilyn Jackson, seen in the image below), from 1954. They are singing Como’s hit song, from that year, “Papa Loves Mambo.” I posted the same video, in this space, a couple of years ago.

As I mentioned, in the 2010 post, a particularly interesting (and enjoyable) part of the 1954 performance is this: that at the conclusion of the song (which took place at the end of that night’s telecast), there was time left over. Como and The Ray Charles Singers improvised, and sang part of the song again.

Here is the original post, from 2010:

(Above image: Marilyn Jackson, next to Perry Como, on Como's television program, 1954.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Your Hit Parade" photograph

I recently bought this picture on ebay. It is of the cast and musicians of Your Hit Parade, and appears to be from 1950 (the year the show came to television), or the start of 1951. (Neither singer Russell Arms, nor my mother, are pictured.  My mother joined the cast of the program in late February of 1951; I believe Russell Arms joined the show's cast earlier the same month.)

Here are some of the people in the photograph:

To the right of the picture, in the foreground (see enlarged section, at left), are the primary singing stars of the program, from 1950 to 1952: Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson (wearing bow-tie), and Dorothy Collins. To the right of (and behind) Collins, seated on a stool, is orchestra leader Raymond Scott.

At left of center, in the foreground (see enlarged section, below), are dancers Dusty McCaffrey, Virginia Conwell, and Lenny Claret.

Behind McCaffrey, Conwell, and Claret are the “Hit Paraders,” the program’s choral group.

The first three female singers (left to right) are: Geri Beitzel, Rae Whitney and Marilyn Jackson; I do not know the name of the last singer in the row.

(According to Ray Charles, the Hit Parade’s vocal arranger, Marilyn Jackson was probably a substitute Hit Parader during the week the photograph was taken; Jackson was a regular, at the time, on Perry Como's TV show, as one of the singers in Charles's vocal group, "The Ray Charles Singers."  For much of the 1950s, Ray Charles—often referred to as the other Ray Charles—served as the vocal arranger for Your Hit Parade. At the same time, he worked each week on Perry Como’s TV show—work which included arranging the vocals for, and overseeing, his Ray Charles Singers. All told, The Ray Charles Singers were, for decades, an integral part of Perry Como’s television shows, recordings, and live appearances.)

Behind the female Hit Paraders, in the photo, are the male Hit Paraders, at the time. They are (left to right): Marshall Hall, John Smedberg, Gene Lowell (with moustache), Ed Lindstrom, Artie Malvin, and three singers in costume: Hubie Hendrie, an unidentified singer (partially obscured), and Jimmy Pollack.

In addition: the drummer in the photo is Bunny Shawker. The bass player (far left) is Jack Lesberg.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fenway Park

This photograph (which I took, at age 11) is of the first game of the 1967 World Series, at Boston's very beautiful Fenway Park. It is the only World Series game I've ever attended, and I thought of the game today, as Fenway Park's 100th anniversary was observed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Currently Reading...

Am currently reading/browsing through (and enjoying) the recently published book, Network Radio Ratings, 1932-1953, by Jim Ramsburg.

The book, published by McFarland, is subtitled, A History of Prime Time Programs Through the Ratings of Nielsen, Crossley and Hooper.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Great Day for the Irish," 1952

The following is an excerpt of the song "It's a Great Day for the Irish," as sung on Your Hit Parade, NBC-TV, on March 15, 1952. 

My mother is the song's featured vocalist; she is joined by The Hit Paraders, the television show's choral group. The show's "Lucky Strike Orchestra" is led by Raymond Scott.,_NBC-TV,_1952.wav

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Hold On Girl," The Monkees

After the death of Davy Jones, I was looking up Monkees songs, online, and found a song that I had loved, when it came out: “Hold On Girl.” I don’t believe I had thought of the song for decades.

“Hold On Girl” features Davy Jones’s lead vocal, and appeared on the album More of the Monkees, which was released at the start of 1967.  As with many Monkees songs, I think that "Hold On Girl" (which you can hear below) has held up well.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones (1945-2012)

The Monkees released a great many wonderful pop songs, in the 1960s.

Here are three of my favorites, via YouTube, and each features Davy Jones as lead singer.  The first is “When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)" (written by Carole Bayer Sager and Neil Sedaka); the second is “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” (written by Neil Diamond); the third is “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” (also written by Neil Diamond).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sheet Music, "Your Hit Parade," 1951

To the left is the first page of a vocal score, for a 1951 telecast of Your Hit Parade, on NBC. The score was for the song "The Loveliest Night of the Year"; my mother and singer Russell Arms, about whom I wrote in the previous post, performed the song, along with the show's choral group, the Hit Paraders. 

Later, in the 1952-1953 TV season, Arms became one of the show's primary stars. He passed away last week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Russell Arms

Singer and actor Russell Arms, I was sorry to learn, died this past Monday, at his home in Illinois. He was 92, and is survived by his wife, Mary Lynne. Mr. Arms is best known for his work on TV’s Your Hit Parade. He was one of the show’s primary stars from 1952 to 1957.

I had a very enjoyable conversation with Mr. Arms, in 1981; at the time, he was living in the Los Angeles area. He was extremely gracious, in welcoming me into his home, and lengthy excerpts of the interview appear in my book about early television.

Here is an obituary, from The Los Angeles Times:,0,3171070.story

Here, too, is the amazon link to Mr. Arms's 2005 memoir, My Hit Parade...and a Few Misses.  The book was published by BearManor Media.

Above: the cover of a TV magazine from 1956. The cover features (left to right) Hit Parade singers Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Mr. Arms, and Gisele MacKenzie.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hit Parade radio show, January,1952

I have mentioned previously, in this space, that during the time my late mother was a featured singer on Your Hit Parade, on NBC-TV (during the 1951-1952 season), she made two guest appearances on the radio version of the Hit Parade, also on NBC. One of those appearances took place in April of 1952; the other appearance took place on this date, sixty years ago.

Here is a press release about the January, 1952 appearance, from the BBD&O advertising agency. BBD&O was the agency which oversaw the Hit Parade radio and television programs.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Diane Sinclair

I learned a few days ago that Diane Sinclair, a well-known dancer in early television, passed away last May. She was 90.

Ms. Sinclair and her dance partner, Ken Spaulding, were the featured dance team on Kay Kyser’s 1949-1950 TV show on NBC-TV (they joined the show in early 1950). They also starred on Dave Garroway’s 1953-1954 NBC show, and on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, also on NBC, from 1951 to 1953.

In 1954, Ms. Sinclair appeared on the cover of Life magazine; the photograph of her was taken by Gordon Parks. A photo feature by Mr. Parks, inside the issue, concerned Ms. Sinclair and Ken Spaulding.

I interviewed Ms. Sinclair at length, in 1984, for my book about early television. I loved the conversation: Ms. Sinclair’s comments, I have long felt, are some of the most interesting, and insightful, in the book.

After the book was published, at the end of 2007, I sent her a copy, and we ended up speaking by phone, on several occasions, over the next few years.

I remain grateful for the interview she gave me, in 1984. I am also grateful for the friendship (a warm, if intermittent, one) which came about, years later, and am very saddened to learn about her death.

Here is a Wikipedia page about Ms. Sinclair:

(Image above: Gordon Parks's photograph of Diane Sinclair, on the cover of the January 25 1954 issue of Life magazine)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kay Kyser and Merwyn Bogue, NBC, 1949

Here is a photograph (and accompanying press release) that I recently bought on ebay. The picture is of bandleader Kay Kyser, and his comedy sidekick, Merwyn Bogue (a/k/a “Ish Kabibble”).

The picture, from NBC Television, is dated December 25, 1949; Kay Kyser’s TV show, the College of Musical Knowledge, had made its debut, on NBC, a few weeks before.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The "Today" show, January 14, 1952

Sixty years ago, on this date—January 14, 1952—the Today show made its debut, on NBC-TV. The program’s host was the unusually talented and compelling figure Dave Garroway. Mr. Garroway was host of the program from 1952 until 1961.

Here is a brief film, from later in 1952, about the relatively new medium of television; its host is Mr. Garroway.

One of the television shows featured in the film is the drama Dangerous Assignment, which starred Brian Donlevy. According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh (Ballantine Books, several editions), the drama (which was syndicated) made its debut in early 1952.  Thirty-nine episodes were produced.

By the way: near the end of the film (while describing television’s immediacy and reach), Garroway says: “...from a river rampage, to the proud debut of an American superliner.  Television has a new world to bring you. And now, it’s in your town.”

The superliner shown in the film is the legendary S.S. United States; its maiden voyage took place the first week of July, in 1952. The ship, as noted on previous occasions in this space, plays a part in my book about early television. The last episode of Your Hit Parade’s 1951-1952 season, on NBC, originated from the S.S. United States, five days before the ship’s inaugural voyage.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photograph from January, 1952

This is a photograph of a rehearsal for the January 5, 1952 telecast of Your Hit Parade, on NBC (sixty years ago this week).  In the picture (which, unfortunately, contains various scratches and other imperfections), my mother, Sue Bennett, is singing the #6 song on the Hit Parade survey that week: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  (The #1 song that week was "Slow Poke.")

According to the script she was joined in the song by the show's vocal chorus, The Hit Paraders (who appeared both on-camera, and off-camera, during Hit Parade broadcasts), though I am guessing that the performers in front of her are three of the show's dancers.  The performer to the left looks like dancer Virginia Conwell; the performer at the right looks like it might be Bobby Trelease.  Both Conwell and Trelease were prominent dancers on the program.  (They were both, in addition, routinely featured in key non-speaking acting roles, during Hit Parade production numbers.)

The script, by the way, notes that the images behind my mother are to be seen "by means of the vue-graph rear projection."  I find the phrase "vue-graph" interesting, but am unsure what it means.  Perhaps it was simply another name, at the time, for the rear-projection process, or perhaps it referred to a specific kind, or specific brand, of rear-projection device; I have not come upon the phrase elsewhere.

(Photo above, copyright Lost Gold Entertainment, Inc.)