Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Good wishes for the New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker

He was a tremendously talented singer.  Am very saddened to learn of his death.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reverend Al Green, on the 12/8/14 David Letterman Show

The great Al Green, performing "Tired of Being Alone," and "Let's Stay Together," on last Monday's Late Show with David Letterman:

(The previous link, above, was taken down since I first posted it.  This is a new link--and not a great one (looks like someone filmed the show off a TV set), but despite the less-than-acceptable video quality, it's still very much worth watching.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Stu's Show"

Listening, right now, to "Stu's Show," the Internet radio talk show.  The program's primary focus, each week, is television, and in particular television history.  Its host--who is very knowledgeable about television--is Stu Shostak.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Morgan Show," WBZ Radio

My friends Morgan White, Jr. and Mel Simons--both of whom are trivia experts, entertainers, authors, and longtime radio personalities--will be appearing together, again, on Boston's WBZ NewsRadio. 

The broadcast takes place this evening, on Morgan's weekly program, The Morgan Show.  The program airs Saturday nights on WBZ from 10 to midnight (Eastern time).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving...

This is a link, from YouTube, to one of the most beautiful recordings ever made. It is of Ella Fitzgerald, singing "Someone to Watch Over Me," from the 1950 album Ella Sings Gershwin.

She is accompanied by the wonderful pianist Ellis Larkins.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mitchell Hadley's "It's About TV"

Here is an enjoyable and interesting post--by Mitchell Hadley, on his "It's About TV" blog" ( the use of guest hosts, years ago, on late-night talk shows, such as Johnny Carson's Tonight Show:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Photograph of a Television Screen, Your Hit Parade, NBC, 1952

On the Hit Parade television show, the program's featured vocalists routinely sang to other performers, who, while acting with the singers in the program's song dramatizations, remained silent.  

Singers from the show's choral group, the "Hit Paraders," were often sung to, as were Hit Parade dancers; outside actors were also hired for this purpose. 

The picture, here, is of my mother, Sue Bennett, singing the song "Anytime,"  on the March 29, 1952 telecast of the program. (It was the number two song on the Hit Parade, that week;  the first-place song was "Wheel of Fortune.")  She is singing to Bob Herget, one of the Hit Parade dancers.  

The picture is from a group of photos I found in 2012, in my father's apartment.  The pictures are of a television screen/television set, and they show parts of a couple of Hit Parade telecasts, as the programs were in progress.  I do not know who took them.

Bob Herget later became a prominent choreographer, for both television, and Broadway. (He was later, indeed, a choreographer for Your Hit Parade.)

Mr. Herget died in 1981.  Here is his obituary from The New York Times:

Here, as well, is an entry about his career on the Internet Broadway Database (

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Photograph, Your Hit Parade, 1951, Russell Arms and Sue Bennett

This is a rehearsal photograph from the September 22, 1951 telecast of Your Hit Parade, on NBC (the photograph appears in my book).  The song being performed was "Shanghai," the number five song on the Hit Parade survey that week.  The fictional scene was a nightclub, and the number featured singers Russell Arms, and my mother, Sue Bennett.

(Photo used by permission of Lost Gold Entertainment, Inc.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Radio Shows

In a previous post, I noted that I am no longer a host at the Internet radio station "Radio Once More." Last Sunday night, the station dropped my Thursday night program from its schedule.

The ending of my show was not the station's only change, last weekend. The previous day, my friend and colleague Kathleen Meola--the Monday night co-host on "Radio Once More"--had chosen to leave the station.

Kathleen was one of the radio station's most enjoyable, and one of its most popular, personalities. I wish her all the best.


Have been enjoying watching the mystery/crime program Gracepoint, on Fox television.  The show, a ten-episode series, stars David Tennant and Anna Gunn.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Radio Show

I've been the host of a weekly talk show on "Radio Once More," the Old-Time Radio and nostalgia-oriented Internet station, since the spring of 2011.

The radio station and I have now parted ways.  I enjoyed, immensely, being a part of the station, and I wish "Radio Once More," and its listening audience, the very best.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Morgan White, Jr., and Mel Simons

I've written previously, in this space, about my friends Morgan White Jr., and Mel Simons.  Both are trivia experts, authors, and entertainers; both have appeared for years--Morgan as a host, Mel as a guest--on Boston's WBZ Radio.

Since November of 2013, Morgan has been the host of The Morgan Show, heard Saturdays on WBZ, from 10 p.m. to midnight (Eastern time).  This week, Mel will be his guest.  The program will feature Mel's "Audio Clip Trivia Quiz," in which listeners are asked to identify well-known voices (as heard, for example, on records, or radio and television programs).  Mel will also be discussing his just-released book, The Comedians Trivia Book.  It is the 11th title he has written for BearManor Media.

To listen to The Morgan Show, please visit this link:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, and collector Rick Payne

The ninth Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention will be taking place this week (from Thursday to Saturday), in Hunt Valley, Maryland.  The convention  is organized each year by Martin and Michelle Grams.  

This year's convention will, once again, feature celebrity appearances (by Connie Stevens, Piper Laurie, George Lazenby, and others).  The convention's lectures/seminars will include a history of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer;  the film work of “Buffalo Bill” Cody;  and a presentation about W.C. Fields (featuring Dr. Harriet Fields, Fields' granddaughter, and film historian Rob Farr).

Many nostalgia-oriented vendors will also be setting up shop at the convention.  I'd like to put in a word for one of them:  collector Rick Payne (who has appeared on my "Radio Once More" talk show, and is a friend).   Rick is an immensely knowledgeable and discerning collector (and preserver) of Americana.  

He has a very beautiful collection of tickets to old radio and television shows (which he has presented, on several occasions--via webinar--to the audience of "Radio Once More"). He also collects vintage movie/radio/television magazines, and newspaper comic strips; sheet music; premiums from radio and television programs; movie posters; radio transcriptions; vintage toys and games; and a great deal more.  

I have enjoyed talking with Rick, over time, about his life as a collector. I like the fact that he does not only collect popular culture artifacts, and souvenirs--though that would of course be perfectly fine, on its own; his collection would still be remarkable.  He is also, however,  a student of history.  He studies the items he finds, the artifacts he locates--gathers information about them, and items like them--and seeks to situate the artifacts, seeks to understand them, within the broader cultural and historical realm.  He is also, I must add, unusually eloquent in discussing his sense of the domain, and the meaning, of collecting.

He will be at the convention on Thursday and Friday, and while I don't know what items he will be offering for sale, I can guarantee that they will be worth looking at.

Here, for your reference, is Rick's store on the auction site ebay:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Boston television magazine, 1960

This is a January, 1960 issue of Television Week, a Boston television guide.

My mother, featured on the cover, was, at the time, the host of Cinema 7, a Sunday afternoon movie show on Boston station WNAC (Channel 7). As is noted on the cover, she was beginning her third year with the program.  She was host of the show until the close of 1960.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tony Charmoli, and "Your Hit Parade"

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Television Advertisement, 1949

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Don Pardo, 1918-2014

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

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

BearManor Media, Kindle titles on sale

In the previous post, I mentioned that the Kindle version of Randy West's book about Johnny Olson (published by BearManor Media) is on sale, until August 15th.

A great many other Kindle versions of BearManor Media titles are similarly on sale. Here is the list of the books, from

Monday, July 21, 2014

Author Randy West, and the book "Johnny Olson: A Voice in Time"

Randy West made a return visit to my weekly radio program, recently, to talk about his very enjoyable book about his friend and mentor, the late radio and television announcer Johnny Olson (1910-1985).

Olson is no doubt best-remembered as the announcer for The Price is Right, with host Bob Barker, but he also served as announcer for a long list of other television programs, including What's My Line?, To Tell the Truth, and The Jackie Gleason Show.  He was also the host, himself, of a number of radio and television shows, including early television's Doorway to Fame (the Dumont Network), and Ladies Be Seated (which aired on ABC Radio, as well as ABC-TV).  

Randy West's book, brought out in 2009 by BearManor Media, is Johnny Olson: A Voice in Time; it is subtitled From The Birth of Modern Media to The Price is Right.  

West is a game-show announcer, voice-over performer, actor, lecturer, and author.  His book, of course, chronicles Johnny Olson's life, and lengthy career--but it is also a portrait of the different broadcast eras Olson was a part of (including the early years of both radio and television).

The Kindle version of the book is currently on sale, until August 15th:

Here, too, is the link to the softcover edition of the book:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Author Martin Grams, Jr.

On several occasions, over time, I've written in this space about author Martin Grams, Jr.  He's written books about such television and radio programs as The Twilight ZoneThe Time Tunnel, The Shadow, Suspense, and--most recently--Duffy's Tavern.

He'll be appearing, tonight, on The Jordan Rich Show, on Boston radio station WBZ-AM.  The program begins airing at midnight (Eastern time).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Additional story, Philadelphia magazine, about the S.S. United States

A story in Philadelphia magazine about the ocean liner, following this week's report in The New York Times:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The S.S. United States, in The New York Times

A story about the historic ocean liner (which has been written about a number of times, in this space), appears in today's print edition of The New York Times:

Here, too, is the link to the Facebook page of the S.S. United States Conservancy:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Morgan White, Jr. interview

An interview with my friend Morgan White, Jr.--longtime Boston radio talk show host, trivia expert, trivia-oriented entertainer, and author--aired, on June 19th, on my weekly "Radio Once More"
program (Thursdays, 9 to midnight, Eastern).

Here is the audio recording of the interview, which is approximately thirty-five minutes long.

(Please note that the recording, which I am posting temporarily, is copyrighted by "Radio Once More," and is posted here for private listening purposes only. )

Morgan White has worked for years for WBZ Radio (1030 AM). Since November, he has been the host of WBZ's "The Morgan Show," which is heard Saturday nights from 10 till midnight (Eastern).

You can listen to the program at this link:

Morgan White's website can be found here:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Justice Girl," by Julian David Stone

Last week, on my "Radio Once More" program, I interviewed playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker, and novelist Julian David Stone.  We spoke about his enjoyable 2013 novel about early television, The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl.

Here is the link for the book:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Teenie Hodges, Guitarist and Songwriter

Mr. Hodges, who died on Sunday at age 68, was best known for his work with Al Green. In addition to playing guitar on such hits as "Let's Stay Together" and "Tired of Being Alone," he co-wrote, with Mr. Green, hits such as "Take Me to the River," and "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)."  More recently, he played on the 2006 album "The Greatest," by the singer and songwriter Chan Marshall (a/k/a Cat Power).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Morgan White, Jr.

My friend Morgan White, Jr.--longtime radio talk show host at Boston station WBZ-AM, author, and noted trivia expert--will be interviewed on my radio program this evening (on the Internet station "Radio Once More"). 

The show airs from 9 to midnight (Eastern time).  The interview, which was taped yesterday, will begin airing sometime between 9:15 and 9:40 p.m., and is about thirty-five minutes long.

Here is the radio station's address:

Here, too, is the link to Morgan's website:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"My Favorite Year"

This very enjoyable and excellent film, about early television--which starred the late Peter O'Toole, as well as Joseph Bologna, and Mark Linn-Baker--airs tonight on Turner Classic Movies (at 10:15, Eastern time).  The film, from 1982, was directed by Richard Benjamin.

Joseph Bologna plays the Sid Caesar-like star of a weekly network television show; his name, in the film, is King Kaiser. I've always liked how the name not only brings to mind Sid Caesar's name, but Kay Kyser's.  Mr. Kyser, whom I've written about often in this space, was also a star in early television (though an even bigger star, indeed, during his radio years).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New England Broadcasting History

A few days ago I happened upon a very interesting Facebook page, about the history of New England broadcasting:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bobby Ellerbee's "Eyes of a Generation"

I recently interviewed broadcast veteran Bobby Ellerbee on my "Radio Once More" talk show.

Ellerbee runs the enjoyable and informative website "Eyes of A Generation," as well as an accompanying (and very active) Facebook page.  The Facebook page and website are concerned with television history, at both the network and local levels--yet Ellerbee's primary focus is the television cameras which have been used, in the medium, over the decades.

Here is the link for the "Eyes of a Generation" Facebook page (which can also be accessed via the "Live Stream" tab of the main "Eyes of a Generation" web page):

Here, too, is the link for the main web page:

Monday, March 31, 2014

The great Eddie Lawrence

Eddie Lawrence was a wonderful comedian, most famous for his "Old Philosopher" comedy character (which first appeared in 1956, on one of his records).  He was also known for his acting--including prominent work on Broadway--and for his work as a writer, and painter.  In the late 1940s he studied with the artist Fernand L├ęger, in Paris.

Mr. Lawrence died in New York last week, at 95.  I was terribly saddened to read of his passing.

I interviewed him at length in the early 1980s, in his Manhattan art studio, for my book about early television.  He had been one of the writers of Kay Kyser's 1949-50 NBC television show, and appeared on the show regularly in comedy sketches.  He also wrote for (and appeared on) Victor Borge's 1951 NBC-TV program.  

I am working on a follow-up book about early TV, and in 2011 was delighted to be able to interview Mr. Lawrence again, for the book, in New York.   

Here are some of the comments he made about early television, in our 1980s interview, as they appear in my 2007 book:

“In those days, in live television,” performer and writer Eddie Lawrence said, in 1981, “every performance on the air was in actuality a dress rehearsal, because we had no opportunity to digest the material.” Yet Lawrence was not nervous performing on Kay Kyser’s show, as opposed to dramatic shows on which he acted during the early 1950s. The dramatic programs were performed without an audience; Lawrence disliked the accompanying silence, in the studios.

Yet, he would recall:

"When you had an audience, and it was comedy, it was easy.
. . . Because you got laughter. . . . In a musical comedy show
you can always somehow get back on track with an audience.
. . . It was just exciting, you don’t seem to forget your lines
under those conditions, with an orchestra, and an audience."

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

For the past couple of years, on St. Patrick's Day, I have posted a link to part of a performance, by my mother, on the television show Your Hit Parade.  I am posting it again today.

The broadcast--which took place live, on NBC--aired on March 15, 1952.  My mother sang "It's a Great Day For the Irish," and was joined, in the performance, by the Hit Paraders, the TV show's terrific vocal chorus.  The show's "Lucky Strike Orchestra" was led by the great Raymond Scott.,_NBC-TV,_1952.wav

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mitchell Hadley's "It's About TV"

I'm quite touched by an awfully kind, generous, and sympathetic review of my book, which came out on Tuesday (March 4th). It appeared on "It's About TV" (, the very fine blog of writer, editor, critic, and "cultural archaeologist" Mitchell Hadley.

Here is the link for the specific post:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Boston television, 1960s

This is a photo from the 1960s, of my mother singing on a Boston television program.  I don't recall the name of the show, but remember that it aired weekdays on what was then WHDH-TV (Channel 5).  If I'm remembering correctly, she sang on the show occasionally, and was guest host for the show, once or twice, when the host was away/ on vacation.

I'm struck, in the picture, by the odd "runway" on which she is standing.  One can see stairs, behind her, which appear to lead to a main stage. Yet the runway is, obviously, simply a table (and not a particularly wide one), and I wonder if it felt at all precarious walking upon it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Morgan White, Jr. and Mel Simons

Two good friends (friends of each other; friends of mine)--both of them Boston-based entertainers, authors, and trivia experts--will appear together, this evening, on Boston's WBZ Radio.

Mel Simons will be the guest of Morgan White, Jr., host of The Morgan Show, which airs Saturday nights on WBZ from 10 to midnight (Eastern time).

The program can be heard at this link:

Morgan White's web address is:

Mel Simons' web address is:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"An Evening of Old Time Radio"

My friends Johnny and Helen Holmes, of Mount Holly, New Jersey, are the focus of a feature story in today's Burlington County (NJ) Times.

The story concerns their ongoing Old-Time Radio presentations at Mount Holly's Daily Grind coffee house.  They've appeared at The Daily Grind every other month since the fall of 2012--and another presentation will take place this Friday evening, from 6:30 to 9.  This week's event will feature three episodes of Jack Benny's radio program; the episodes are from the nineteen thirties, forties, and fifties.

Here is the link to the Burlington County Times feature:

Here, too, are the Facebook links for The Daily Grind, and for Johnny and Helen Holmes's "Evening of Old Time Radio" page.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sid Caesar

I'm saddened to learn of the passing of the great comedian and actor Sid Caesar.  He died today, at 91.

Here's an amazon link for the very interesting and enjoyable autobiography, now out-of-print, that he wrote  (with Bill Davidson) in the early 1980s, Where Have I Been?  The book, of course, covers his work on the landmark early television program Your Show of Shows.

Another memoir, Caesar's Hours (written with Eddy Friedfeld),  was published in 2003.  Here's the amazon link for the paperback edition of the book, which was released in 2005:

Monday, February 10, 2014

In the audience, at "The Ed Sullivan Show"

One of the many wonderful moments of The Beatles' first appearance on Ed Sullivan's TV program, fifty years ago Sunday night, concerned a young girl in the audience;  I've enjoyed, for years, this part of the broadcast.  

One of the show's cameras focused upon the girl for several seconds, and it captured what was clearly her utter joy in watching The Fab Four.  She was seen while The Beatles performed "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and for a fraction of a second, before the cameras turned elsewhere, she gestured, with her hands--as if, it appeared, she were playing the drums, along with Ringo Starr.

I learned, last week--via a CBS Evening News story by reporter Anthony Mason--a little about her. She was 13 years old, at the time, and her name is Andrea Tebbets.  Here is the link to the CBS story: