Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Willie Mays turns 90

It was startling to read, last week, that Willie Mays has turned 90 years old.  He was born May 6, 1931.

Like so many baseball fans, I have enormous admiration for Mr. Mays, and for what he achieved during his remarkable career.

When I read about his birthday, I went to YouTube, to watch (once again) his often-celebrated catch, made during the first game of the 1954 World Series, between Mays's New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.  The game took place at New York's Polo Grounds.

The play, in the game's eighth inning--begun with a fly ball, hit to center field by Cleveland first baseman Vic Wertz--is still riveting to see.  It's often referred to as "The Catch"--and there is, indeed, a Wikipedia page devoted to the play.

It is one of the great moments in sports: Mays--somehow--catching the fly ball, on the run, his back to home plate.  And, it is not solely the catch which was extraordinary; there was also Mays's stunning throw to second base, immediately afterwards.

Because of the play, Cleveland's Larry Doby, who had been on second base, only reached third; the score, by the end of the inning, remained tied, at 2-2. The Giants went on to win the game in the tenth inning--and won the World Series in four games.

Here is the play, from YouTube:

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Two photographs

Here are two pictures of my late mother (both of which have been seen before, in this space).

The first is from 1949, when she became a featured singer on bandleader Kay Kyser's new weekly television program, on NBC.  The show made its debut at the start of December of that year. 

When the photograph was taken, she was twenty-one years old.  My parents had been married a few months before, in August of 1949.

The picture was, I am fairly sure, taken at New York's International Theatre, at Columbus Circle; the Kay Kyser program was telecast each week from the theatre. 

The second picture, which she used professionally, is, I believe, from the late 1980s, or the early 1990s.

Today--I am very saddened by this fact--is the twentieth anniversary of her death.  She died on this date in 2001, at age seventy-three.


(Top photograph, from 1949: © NBCUniversal)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Singer Jill Corey

On April 29th, the New York Times reported that the well-known singer Jill Corey had died, on April 3rd, at a Pittsburgh hospital.  She was 85.

In 1953 and 1954, Ms. Corey was one of the stars of The Dave Garroway Show, on NBC-TV.  She was also a cast member of The Johnny Carson Show, Mr. Carson's 1955-1956 weekly prime-time comedy and variety program on CBS.  Ms. Corey appeared, over time, on a number of other television shows--which included, in 1957 and 1958, starring on the NBC-TV program Your Hit Parade.   

In early 1957, singer Gisele MacKenzie, who had starred on the Hit Parade since 1953, announced she'd be leaving the program at the end of the 1956-1957 television season, to star on her own NBC show in the fall.  Subsequently, the Hit Parade was revamped, for the the 1957-1958 season.  Longtime stars Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, and Russell Arms were let go, and a new vocal cast took over; bandleader Raymond Scott was also replaced.

The program's new singing stars, beginning in the fall of 1957, were Ms. Corey, Alan Copeland, Virginia Gibson, and Tommy Leonetti. 

The new cast lasted one season.  Later, for part of the 1958-1959 season, the show moved to CBS, and starred Dorothy Collins, and singer Johnny Desmond.  The program then left television--though a new CBS version aired briefly, fifteen years later, in the summer of 1974.

Here is Ms. Corey's obituary, from the New York Times:

(Above image: preview of the new Hit Parade cast, in a 1957 issue of TV Guide; Jill Corey is seen at the top left)