Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

The following recording is of Judy Garland, singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

The song was introduced by Ms. Garland in the 1944 film in which she starred, Meet Me in St. Louis. The record she made of the song, as heard below, was released that year. The song itself is very beautiful--as, indeed, is Ms. Garland's vocal performance.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The S.S. United States

I've written many times, in this space, about the S.S. United States, the legendary ocean liner.  It went into service in 1952, and was retired in 1969.  It has been docked on the Delaware River, in Philadelphia, since 1996.

A piece about the ship was recently posted on

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The first night, tonight

To those who are celebrating the holiday: Happy Chanukah...

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The passage of time













John Lennon was killed forty years ago today, at age forty.

The photograph on the above Newsweek cover was by Richard Avedon.  It was originally part of a larger picture Mr. Avedon took of the Beatles, in 1967.  

As is apparent, the copy of Newsweek, which I have had since 1980, is torn (I don't recall when this happened), and the cover became separated from the rest of the issue. 


(Photographs © Richard Avedon)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Morgan White, Jr., on WBZ-AM

Morgan White, Jr., the longtime talk host at Boston's WBZ NewsRadio, will be returning to the station as a host this weekend.  

"The Morgan Show" will air Saturdays, from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Morgan, about whom I've written a number of times in this space, has been a friend for more than a decade. In March, his weekend overnight shows on WBZ were put on hold, due to the pandemic. WBZ, and its owner, the iHeart radio group, began limiting the number of staff members who could work in-person at the station. 

With the start of his new program, Morgan will not, indeed, be working on-site, at WBZ;  he will be broadcasting from his home in suburban Boston.

One of his guests, tomorrow night, will be Boston-based entertainer, author, and trivia expert Mel Simons--who is also a friend, and who has, as well, been the subject of a number of posts on this blog. Mel will appear on tomorrow's program from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

57th anniversary

This is an image of the first teletype bulletin from Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.  

The bulletin was called into United Press International by the noted UPI reporter Merriman Smith. When he made the call, Smith was in the press "pool" car, in the presidential motorcade.

The car, Smith later wrote, was a "telephone company vehicle equipped with a mobile radio-telephone." He was in the car's front seat, with the telephone company driver, and Malcolm Kilduff, the acting White House Press Secretary for President Kennedy's trip to Texas--and Smith managed to commandeer the phone before any of the three other pool reporters, in the back seat of the car, could do so.

In 1964, Smith would win a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the assassination.

Later that day, it was Malcolm Kilduff who made the announcement to the press corps, in a nurses' classroom at Parkland Hospital, that President Kennedy had died. 

(Teletype image, from the book Four Days: The Historical Record of the Death of President Kennedy, compiled by United Press International and American Heritage magazine, and published, in 1964, by the American Heritage Publishing Company.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The pandemic

The last time I wrote about the coronavirus was November 2nd.  On that date, the death count, in America, had reached more than 231,000, and there had been 9 1/4 million COVID cases in the country.

Sixteen days later, an additional 2 1/4 million infections have been diagnosed in the U.S.; the number of cases now exceeds 11 1/2 million. And today, deaths in America, due to the virus, passed a quarter of a million.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Will be saving this paper.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Joe Biden

Here are two very nice commercials from the Joe Biden campaign.

The first is called "Hometown," and is narrated by Bruce Springsteen.  It first aired on television this past weekend, and Mr. Springsteen's "My Hometown" is heard throughout.

The second commercial first aired a couple of weeks ago, and is titled "Go From There."  The narrator is the actor Sam Elliott.

The Election

Please note:  The following has been edited, since its posting, to include additional information from a New York Times story which had been cited. 

Am hoping for the sea-change, via the election:  that the country will have voted for calm, steady, strong, caring, wise leadership. 

One hopes, in short, that the Trump ride will soon be over:  that we'll be done with the President's endless divisiveness, his endless lies, his cruelties, the racial dog whistles, the conspiracy theories, the contempt, the self-pity, the self-glorification. And, of course, there have been his stunning failures regarding COVID--and what has become his disinterest in, dismissal of, minimizing of (and his preference for falsehoods about) the virus.

In a July 19th New York Times story, David Carney, an advisor to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said this, of Mr. Trump and the pandemic: "The president got bored with it."   

Some governors, the article reported, "have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Mr. Trump in public, is seen by [such governors] as far more attentive to the continuing disaster."  Mr. Carney, the Times story said, "noted that [Governor] Abbott, a Republican, directs his [COVID-related] requests to Mr. Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week."

The President has said, many times, that the country is "rounding the corner," concerning the pandemic. On October 23rd, he added one word to the phrase: "We're rounding the corner beautifully." On that day, in the U.S., there were over 900 deaths, due to the virus.  There were also more than 83,000 new COVID cases that day--a record, at the time, which has since been surpassed.

As of today, there have been more than 9 1/4 million COVID cases in the U.S.--and more than 231,000 deaths. A death count of a quarter of a million is in sight.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Center Theatre, and NBC

In an October 7th post, I referred to New York's Center Theatre, at Rockefeller Center.  The theatre was, in the 1950s, the home of a number of NBC television programs.

It had previously been a legitimate theatre (and had, at other times, been a movie palace).  NBC took over the theatre in 1950, refurbishing it for television productions; it was used for such programs as the Four Star Revue, Your Hit Parade (in its early years), and Your Show of Shows (in its latter period).  Certain NBC radio shows also aired from the theatre, including The Big Show, a noted 1950-1952 variety program which starred Tallulah Bankhead. The theatre was torn down in 1954.

In 1951 and 1952, my mother performed at the theatre--on the Hit Parade, and on The Freddy Martin Show (also known as the Hazel Bishop Show, after its lipstick sponsor).  

In the postcard, above (date unknown), the Center Theatre is seen, at the center-right; Radio City Music Hall can be seen in the distance.  The postcard is titled, on its reverse side, "Looking North on the Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue)."

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Public Interest

After President Trump said he would not take part in a virtual debate with former Vice President Biden (a debate which would have taken place tonight), the event was cancelled by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

In place of the debate, Mr. Biden scheduled a Town Hall telecast with ABC News, which will air tonight at 8 o'clock, from Philadelphia.  The program's moderator will be George Stephanopoulos, and will be seen for 90 minutes.

NBC announced yesterday that Mr. Trump will also take part in a Town Hall meeting tonight.  It will begin--like the Biden telecast--at 8 o'clock.  The NBC program, airing from Miami, will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie, and will last an hour. 

NBC's decision--to air its telecast opposite ABC's--is a bad one.  At this stage of the campaign--less than three weeks before Election Day--voters should not have to choose which broadcast to watch. The network surely could have scheduled the forum with Mr. Trump at a different hour, or day.  NBC's programming decision does not serve the public interest, and has--justifiably--received much criticism (including from within the network).

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

70 years ago today

In the summer of 1950, the network radio program Your Hit Parade--also known as the Lucky Strike Hit Parade--came to television; it had aired on radio since 1935.

There were four experimental Hit Parade telecasts, during the summer of 1950. The shows, originating from New York's International Theatre, at Columbus Circle, starred vocalists Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, and Dorothy Collins--as well as the Hit Paraders choral group, the Hit Parade dancers, and the Lucky Strike Orchestra, led by Raymond Scott. 

The summer telecasts were successful, and on October 7, 1950--70 years ago today--the TV program began its weekly broadcasts on NBC (from New York's Center Theatre, at Rockefeller Center). The television show would continue airing for most of the 1950s.

In early 1951, my mother, singer Sue Bennett, joined the Hit Parade's cast.  At first, she performed in live Lucky Strike commercials on the show, with singer Russell Arms, and others.  She later became one of the show's featured singers, performing on the program until the end of the 1951-1952 season.

The next season, Eileen Wilson was replaced by singer June Valli; Russell Arms also became one of the show's starring singers. In the fall of 1953, singer Gisele MacKenzie replaced Valli.  MacKenzie, Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, and Arms--the show's best-remembered performers--remained with the program until 1957.

A new starring cast, made up of younger singers, was brought in for the 1957-1958 season.  The show was then changed again, when it aired for part of the 1958-1959 season; it moved to CBS, and starred Dorothy Collins, and singer Johnny Desmond.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The President returns to The White House

This evening, after three days at Walter Reed, yet still contagious--his doctors say he is not yet out of danger--President Trump left the hospital.  He apparently didn't like being cooped up.

On Twitter, prior to returning to The White House, Mr. Trump--as he has, so often--minimized the virus's severity:

"Don’t be afraid of Covid," he wrote, on the day that the number of deaths in America, due to the virus, passed 210,000. "Don’t let it dominate your life." 

After leaving Marine One, and ascending the White House steps, Mr. Trump looked out over the South Lawn. The event was being broadcast live, during the network newscasts.  

Then--it was an extraordinary, ostentatious, deeply jarring moment--he took off his mask, and put it in his coat pocket.  

Moments later, he gave a "thumbs up" sign.  Soon, after saluting Marine One as it began its takeoff, he turned around, and entered the building.  He was greeted by what appeared to be a small group of people inside.

One wonders: Did it cross his mind--for even an instant--that by removing his mask he might be putting those working for him, in The White House (or perhaps, one should say, those who remain in The White House; the list of those infected with COVID continues to grow), in danger?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The virus

I last wrote about COVID, in this space, on July 29th.  On that date, more than 150,000 Americans had died due to the virus.

Today--fifty-five days later--there have been an additional 50,000 deaths.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The death of Justice Ginsburg is a profound loss for the country.  She was brilliant, humane, courageous, remarkable. 

The photograph, below, was taken in 1972, the year she joined the faculty at Columbia Law School, with tenure.  At the time, she was 38 years old, and was the first woman to be hired by the school as a full professor. 







(Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

Friday, September 18, 2020

The New Year

Rosh Hashanah--which begins the ten-day period, in Judaism, known as the Days of Awe--starts this evening, at sundown.

A good and happy New Year, to those who are observing the holiday. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11th

I posted the above photograph last year, on the anniversary of September 11th.  I thought I would post it again.

It is, I think, a haunting image--that of the second airliner, a moment before it crashed into the South Tower of the Trade Center.

The picture was not published until 2002.  As I wrote last year: The picture, taken by Will Nuñez, appeared in the September 2002 issue of Vanity Fair, with other previously unseen images of the September 11th catastrophe, in an article titled "Two Towers: One Year Later." Mr. Nuñez's photograph also appeared in a book released the same month, Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs (Scalo Verlag Publishers).

The caption in Vanity Fair noted, in part: "After the first plane hit Tower One, bond analyst Will Nuñez went to his corner newsstand and bought a $14.99 disposable camera, hoping to record the scene for history's sake.  Minutes later, from his downtown office window, he captured United Flight 175 as it sped toward Tower Two."

(Photograph ©Will Nuñez, and Scalo Verlag Publishers, 2002)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Tony Charmoli (1921-2020)

(Tony Charmoli, at Your Hit Parade rehearsal. Photo via Paul Manchester, from the Tony Charmoli archive)

I've written previously, in this space, about the well-known, critically-admired, and Emmy-honored television choreographer and director Tony Charmoli.

Paul Manchester, who edited and designed Mr. Charmoli's 2016 memoir, Stars in My Eyes, and who was friends with Mr. Charmoli for many years, announced earlier this week that Mr. Charmoli died on August 7th, at age 99.

On his Facebook page, Mr. Manchester shared the above photograph of Mr. Charmoli, from the period, in the early-to-mid-1950s, during which he staged and choreographed the NBC-TV program Your Hit Parade. (The photograph also appears in Stars in My Eyes.)

Here are two of the posts I'd previously written about Mr. Charmoli:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The virus

At the time of my July 13th post, which concerned COVID-19, the U.S. had reached 135,000 deaths from the virus.

Today, sixteen days later, the number of deaths in America passed 150,000.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

John Lewis

This is a 2007 portrait of Congressman Lewis--a brave, heroic man--who died on Friday, at age 80.

The photograph, by Eric Etheridge, is from Etheridge's 2008 book, Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders (New York: Atlas & Co. Publishers).

Monday, July 13, 2020

The President, and COVID-19

For some time, it is clear, President Trump has been pretty much done with COVID.

On June 17th, he said that the coronavirus was "dying out."

Nine days before, on June 8th, he said: "We may have some embers or some ashes, or we may have some flames coming, but we'll put them out.  We'll stomp them out.  We understand this now. We'll stomp them out and we'll stomp them out very, very powerfully."

On July 2nd--his impersonal locution, I think, was interesting; it was suggestive, perhaps, of his own remove from the issue--he said: "The crisis is being handled." 
Two days later, during a July 4th address, he sought to minimize the virus's severity.  He said that "we have tested over 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless."

My previous post was written June 22nd. At that time, more than 120,000 Americans had died as a result of the virus. 

As of today--three weeks later--there have been approximately 15,000 additional American deaths.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Our era

This has been a staggering, harrowing time.  

First, the cataclysm that is the pandemic.  Near the end of May, 100,000 Americans had died due to the virus.  Less than a month later, there have been more than 20,000 additional deaths.  By October, it is now estimated, more than 200,000 Americans will have died.

And then, on May 25th, there was the world-shifting death--hideous, chilling, and heartbreaking--of George Floyd. 

It is a time of enormous consequence--as regards the health catastrophe, and the issues of race, bigotry, inequity. Yet the President--a remarkably hollow man--has shown, routinely, that he is fully incapable of helping to heal the country.

Friday, June 19, 2020


Offering good wishes to everyone who is observing, and honoring, the Juneteenth holiday.