Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"It's About TV"

My appreciation to Mitchell Hadley, who writes the very enjoyable blog "It's About TV."  His December 31st post includes some very kind comments about my book: 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Snooky Lanson, and Lucky Strike

This is a Lucky Strike advertisement from the early 1950s. It features Snooky Lanson, one of the singing stars of Your Hit Parade, on NBC-TV.  (The Hit Parade was often referred to as The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, because of its Lucky Strike sponsorship.)

The ad is from a Metropolitan Opera playbill/program.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Morgan White, Jr., and "The Morgan Show"

I am so delighted to make note of the following:  that my friend Morgan White, Jr.--the Boston-based trivia expert, entertainer, author, and radio host--is starting a new talk show on Boston's WBZ Radio.  It is called The Morgan Show, and will air Saturday nights--beginning tomorrow--from 10 p.m.-midnight.  I hope you'll tune in!



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hurricane Sandy

As a New Jersey resident, I was (like millions of others) affected by Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in the Garden State a year ago yesterday. 

But that which I experienced was minimal.  I was, for example, without power for a couple of days.  There were shortages of gasoline, for a time. After the supermarket near my apartment reopened--I cannot recall how long it was closed; probably a day or two--there were certain relatively minor food shortages, for a period.

To emphasize this: what I encountered, a year ago (as disorienting as parts of the experience may have felt), was simply nothing--just nothing--when compared to the ways in which the storm disrupted and changed the lives of so many others.

I am thinking, this week, about the families and individuals who endured so much, last year--and about those whose lives, today, continue to be so profoundly altered by the storm.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The great Lou Reed

I was very saddened, today, to read of the death of Lou Reed, at age 71.


Here is one of his many outstanding songs, via YouTube.  It is "Satellite of Love," from his album Transformer (1972):


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Your Hit Parade," NBC-TV, March of 1952

Last year, I posted a couple of pictures I had found in my father's apartment.  They were photographs of 1952 telecasts of Your Hit Parade, on NBC, taken of a television screen while the show was airing.  I don't know who took the pictures.

Here is another of the photos.  It is from March 29, 1952, and shows Hit Parade star Eileen Wilson, in the foreground. She is singing the song "Wheel of Fortune," which was the number one song on the Hit Parade that week.  The script for the program notes that the song's fictional setting, that week, was a casino in Monte Carlo.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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

Sunday, September 1, 2013

David Shields, J.D. Salinger, and the book "How literature saved my life"

A new biography/oral history is about to be published about J.D. Salinger;  I'm looking forward to reading it.  The book, which been getting a great deal of attention, in advance of its publication (September 3rd), is co-written by David Shields and Shane Salerno. Salerno is also the director of a documentary about Salinger, which will be opening in theatres September 6th (and will air on PBS in 2014).  

Shields, who is an old friend from college, has written many other books, including the two non-fiction works The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), a best-seller, and the much-discussed Reality Hunger (Knopf, 2010).

(Please see a lengthy post about Reality Hunger, which appeared in 2010 on my other blog: 

Shields's most recent book, prior to Salinger, is the non-fiction work How literature saved my life.  It was released this February (also by Knopf). 

Shields is a terrific writer, and How literature saved my life is a fine book.  While the book is, of course, about literature, it is also very much about the self.  Such as:  the keen awareness of self, in relation to the writing and reading of literature (and the very personal ways texts are read, and responded to);  and the self, as it reads and interprets life beyond the page.

It is intriguing to me that Shields--who in his non-fiction, over time, has written, quite personally, about his life--is now the co-author of a book about J.D. Salinger, who for decades revealed so little about himself, publicly.  

Yet there is this, concerning Salinger, in How literature saved my life:

"When I can't sleep, I get up and pull a book off the shelves.  There are no more than thirty writers I can reliably turn to in this situation, and Salinger is still one of them...What is it in his work that offers such solace at 3:00 A.M. of the soul?  For me, it's how his voice, to a different degree and in a different way in every book, talks back to itself, how it listens to itself talking, comments upon what it hears, and keeps talking.  This self-awareness, this self-reflexivity, is the pleasure and burden of being conscious, and the gift of his work--what makes me less lonely and makes life more livable--lies in its revelation that this isn't a deformation in how I think; this is how human beings think."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Martin Grams, Jr., "Duffy's Tavern," & the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

I've written a number of times, in this space, about author and researcher Martin Grams, Jr.  He's written many books about Old-Time Radio shows, and vintage television programs. (One of his best-known books is 2008's The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic.)

Martin has appeared several times on my weekly radio program; one of those appearances was this past week.  It's always a pleasure speaking with him. 

We talked about his forthcoming book about the well-known radio program Duffy's Tavern (which also aired, briefly, on television); the book will be released later this year. 

We also discussed the upcoming "Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention," which is overseen by Martin and his wife Michelle.  

The convention is in its eighth year, and will take place from September 19-21, in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Here, too, is the link for Martin's website:  

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Walk Right In," "The Rooftop Singers," Bill Svanoe, and the Freedom Riders

This is a 1960s video (of a television performance), featuring one of the songs I enjoyed most in childhood. It remains a favorite song, today.  


The song, "Walk Right In," was recorded in 1962 by The Rooftop Singers, and was a number one hit in early 1963. The song had originally been written in 1929 by the blues musician Gus Cannon (who released a recording the same year, with a jug band he led). The Rooftop Singers was formed in 1962, in order to record a new version of the song.

The performers in the video (left to right) are Bill Svanoe, Lynne Taylor, and Erik Darling. 

And here is the Wikipedia page about the group: 


Here, too, are pictures of Bill Svanoe, from 1961 (before the forming of The Rooftop Singers), as well as a more recent picture.  He was part of the very brave and heroic 1960s Freedom Riders movement and he was arrested and jailed as a result.  The pictures appeared on Oprah Winfrey's website in 2011, as part of a "Then and Now" feature about the Freedom Riders; Ms. Winfrey also honored the Freedom Riders in a 2011 broadcast. (Please scroll down, after clicking on the link, to see the pictures of Mr. Svanoe.)

The feature on Ms. Winfrey's website was derived from a 2008 book about the Freedom Riders, Breach of Peace.  The book is by photographer and author Eric Etheridge:

Lastly, this is the link for the Wikipedia page about the Freedom Riders:

Monday, August 5, 2013


This is a picture of Rocky, taken years ago, when I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia. I found Rocky in 1996, at the Charlottesville-Albemarle County SPCA. When he died, a year ago yesterday, he was sixteen. I loved him dearly, and miss him very much.

Monday, July 29, 2013

George Scott (1944-2013)

He was a superb ballplayer, and always seemed like a very nice and genuine guy.

I loved watching him when he played for the Red Sox (in particular, during their 1967 "Impossible Dream" season).



Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Cat Power video

Previously, in this space, I have posted videos of performances by the singer and songwriter Chan Marshall, also known as Cat Power.  

I've loved a number of her performances that I have seen, on video.  Her soulful and poetic voice has taken me aback, repeatedly.

Here is another video, which is of a 2006 concert for the television program "Austin City Limits."

As is often the case with YouTube videos I enjoy, I have watched this video many times--or, more precisely, have watched, a number of times, the first three songs.  The three songs are from her 2006 CD "The Greatest," and I previously posted different live versions of the first two songs, "The Greatest," and "Living Proof." The third song is "Lived In Bars." 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

James Stratton, and "North by Northwest"

I recently read a very insightful and enjoyable book about the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest.  I've seen the film many times, over the years--yet nonetheless learned a great deal about it (thematically, visually, structurally), from the book.  The book, published in April by BearManor Media, is by James Stratton, and is titled "Hitchcock's North by Northwest: The Man Who Had Too Much."

An interview with Mr. Stratton can be heard on my radio program this evening.  The program is heard each Thursday night, on the Internet station "Radio Once More,"  from 9 to midnight (Eastern time).  The address (via which one can hear the program) is:  www.radiooncemore.com.

The conversation with Mr. Stratton will begin airing at some point between 9:20 and 9:45 p.m.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Virginia Gibson

I watched part of the Tony Awards broadcast on Sunday. During the segment in which tribute is paid to Broadway figures who died in the past year, I learned of the death of Virginia Gibson. She passed away in April, at 85.

Gibson was a singer, actress, and television host.  She was one of the stars of the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, was a regular on Johnny Carson's 1955-1956 comedy and variety series on CBS-TV, and in the 1960s and early 1970s was the co-host (first, with Frank Buxton, and then, with Bill Owen) of the popular children's TV program Discovery.  In 1957 she was a Tony Award nominee (in the Supporting or Featured Musical Actress category), for her role in the play Happy Hunting.

From 1957 to 1958, she was one of the singing stars of Your Hit Parade, on NBC-TV (along with Tommy Leonetti, Alan Copeland, and Jill Corey). This new, and younger, Hit Parade cast had replaced the longtime stars of the TV program--Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, Gisele MacKenzie, and Russell Arms.   

After the 1957-1958 season, Gibson and her fellow cast members left the program. The show then moved to CBS;  the CBS version, which aired in 1958 and 1959, starred Dorothy Collins and Johnny Desmond.

(Photo, above, from 1962, of Virginia Gibson and Frank Buxton, from Discovery, ABC-TV.)

Monday, June 3, 2013


One has watched and read about, with sorrow, and shock, the deadly, wildly destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma.  It is hard to conceive what it is like, to be swept up in--and (if one survives) to then seek to recover from--that kind of cataclysm.

And then, there is the awful destruction--as in the Boston bombings--which comes not from the immense power of nature, but from human agency:  from human cruelty, sociopathy, murderous ideology.

I haven't posted anything, in this space, since the traumatic events of April, in Massachusetts.   

A few nights after the Marathon bombings--the grotesque, inhuman, evil acts which were committed--I hosted my weekly radio program, and spoke at some length about what had happened.  Earlier that evening, the video and still images of the suspects had been released. 

The next night, there was the battle in Watertown, following the murder of the MIT police officer.   A transit officer was also, of course, gravely wounded, in Watertown.

I remained in front of the TV all night (more than 200 miles away, in northern New Jersey), watching the events in Watertown.  

The following week, I spoke a bit more, on my program, about the bombings, and their aftermath.  Yet my words, that evening, felt to me inadequate. 

Seven weeks later, I remain just staggered by what took place, continue to feel great sadness about the deaths, and the grievous injuries which were inflicted. 

I grew up just outside of Boston, my father lives less than a few miles from where the bombings occurred, and I have talked often, with family, and friends, about the events of April.  During that time I have tried to write a few posts about that which took place, but the words, on paper, have also seemed inadequate, and I have put the writing aside.  

Yet while I have felt a kind of paralysis, in seeking to write about the terrible events in Boston, and their aftermath,  I watch, with great admiration, and awe, as those who were directly affected, who were so deeply traumatized (those who lost loved ones, or lost limbs--and those who were otherwise wounded, in both physical or emotional ways), have made clear their determination to move forward:  that they are resuming, or seeking to resume--with bravery and fortitude--the course of their lives.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"It Should Happen to You," and NBC's International Theatre

This is an image from the enjoyable 1954 film It Should Happen to You, which starred Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon. The film was directed by George Cukor.

The image is of Judy Holliday's character, Gladys Glover, in New York City's Columbus Circle. (In the scene, a billboard featuring her name is being painted; she discovers that her surname has been misspelled.) 

Yet this is why I am most interested in the image:  in front of Ms. Holliday is the marquee of NBC's International Theatre.  The theatre, which I have written about previously in this space, was the home of a number of NBC-TV programs during television's early years--including Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows.  (In 1949 and 1950, my mother sang at the theatre, as one of the cast members of bandleader Kay Kyser's weekly TV program.)

I found out, in 2011 (via a 2006 newspaper article reproduced on the website of entertainer and writer Brian Gari), that the theatre was seen in It Should Happen to You.  (Here is the link for the article: http://briangari.com/nytimes.html. )

The article, from The New York Times, featured an interview with Gari, and in part concerned his late grandfather, Eddie Cantor, who had performed at the International Theatre in 1950 and 1951, when he was starring on NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour.  The show left the theatre, and was moved to California, not long after the start of the 1951-1952 television season.

The theatre was torn down in 1954, the year It Should Happen to You was released. 

(It Should Happen to You image, copyright 1954, Columbia Pictures; 2004 DVD release by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A painting by Vernon P. Johnson

I am drawn, with some frequency, to stories of things lost, or found; to that which is forgotten, recalled; to things discovered.

And so I read with interest, this past week, a brief blog post by California-based writer (and communications consultant) Janis Johnson, about whom I have written previously, in this space. (She has also appeared, on a few occasions, on my weekly radio program.)

Johnson is the author of the 2010 book The Artist's Eye: Vernon P. Johnson's Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America, published by the Knox County (Ohio) Historical Society.  Vernon P. Johnson is her late father; the book's primary focus is the paintings he made, decades ago, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, the city where she grew up.

Johnson's recent blog posting concerns a painting by her father, found in a Columbus, Ohio thrift store. Here is the link:


Here, too, is the amazon.com page for The Artist's Eye:


Friday, March 29, 2013

AP story about the S.S. United States

From March 25th:  http://news.yahoo.com/ap-historic-ship-philly-short-funds-time-064434914.html

And here, as mentioned previously in this space, is the web address for the S.S. United States Conservancy:


Sunday, March 24, 2013

A photo of my mother, and my brother

This has always been one of my favorite photographs of my mother.  In the picture, which is from 1954, she is holding my brother, who had been born the year before.  The picture is from an article in the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper The Boston Post.  At the time, she was singing on her own weekly television program, The Sue Bennett Show, on Boston's WBZ-TV. The show was seen in 1954 and 1955. 

My mother died in 2001, at age 73; today would have been her 85th birthday.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Singer Bobbie Smith

Bobbie Smith was one of the lead vocalists of the great singing group The Spinners.  He died last Saturday, at age 76.


Mr. Smith and PhilippĂ© Wynne were often both featured on the group's songs--including "Mighty Love," from 1973, "One of a Kind (Love Affair"), also from 1973, and "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," from 1972. 

Here's a video, from YouTube, of a 1973 television performance of "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love." Mr. Smith sings lead for the first few minutes; Mr. Wynne (seen at the far right, in the video) sings the lead for the latter part of the song. 


As the above obituary in The New York Times notes, Mr. Smith continued to sing with The Spinners until the end of his life; his last performance with the group took place a month ago. 

Mr. Wynne left the group in 1977. He died in 1984, at age 43.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Great Day for the Irish"

Here is a segment of the song "It's a Great Day for the Irish," as performed on March 15, 1952, on Your Hit Parade, NBC-TV. 

My mother is the song's featured vocalist, and she is accompanied by the Hit Paraders vocal chorus.  The show's orchestra is led by Raymond Scott.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another Cat Power video, 2006

Here is a video of Chan Marshall, a/k/a/ Cat Power, singing her song "Living Proof," on David Letterman's program, in 2006.  It is from her 2006 album, The Greatest.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chan Marshall, a/k/a Cat Power

The following is a video of the singer and songwriter Chan Marshall (better known by her stage name, Cat Power). The video is of a live BBC performance, from 2006, of her song "The Greatest."  The song is from her 2006 album of the same name.


Although there is a lot of Cat Power's work that I have not yet heard (or seen), what I know of it I just love.  Her voice is singular, enthralling. "The Greatest" is a striking and beautiful song.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The S.S. United States, on "Sunday Morning"

The story of the S.S. United States, the legendary ocean liner (which I have written about on several occasions, in this space), was featured on a recent edition of the CBS News program Sunday Morning. The reporter, for the piece, was Mark Strassmann.


Here, too, is the link for the S.S. United States Conservancy, the organization devoted to the ship's preservation:


Thursday, February 28, 2013

James Cagney, John Daly, and "What's My Line?"

Here is another enjoyable "Mystery Guest" segment, from a 1960 broadcast of What's My Line? It features the immensely talented James Cagney.


The host of What's My Line?, during the seventeen years it aired on network television (1950-1967), was John Daly.

Daly--well-known, prior to What's My Line?, for the years he spent as a network radio reporter, correspondent, and anchor--brought great skill, erudition, and charm, to his What's My Line? hosting duties.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

"What's My Line?," and Eva Marie Saint

I've recently been watching (on YouTube) a number of "Mystery Guest" segments from the television program What's My Line? 

Here's one of the many very enjoyable segments I've seen. It is from 1958, and features the great Eva Marie Saint.


At the time, as noted during the telecast, she was in New York for the filming of Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jacqueline T. Lynch, "New England Travels"

A few days ago, novelist and playwright Jacqueline T. Lynch posted a very kind review of my book, on her blog "New England Travels":

The review includes the following comment, which, needless to say, I am quite touched by:  "Mr. Fielding manages to write a very personal memoir about a story that was not his own, and that is something wondrous." 
In the right column of Ms. Lynch's blog, there are links for her various novels (as well as books of non-fiction).  
Here is the amazon link for one of her books--the paperback edition of her mystery novel Speak Out Before You Die. The novel, also available as an e-book, is the second in Ms. Lynch's "Double V Mysteries" series.
Here, too, is an amazon link for her book States of Mind: New England, which is a collection of pieces from her "New England Travels" blog. The book is available both as a trade paperback and as an e-book.
Lastly, here is the link for Ms. Lynch's web site.
I am looking forward to reading her books.

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.  


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:  


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