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Category Archives: Classic TV

Frankie Valli: 81 Years Old And Still Entertaining

I was watching Frankie Valli being interviewed on The Big Interview by Dan Rather, and was saddened to know,  that he had lost two children in a short time period. He lost his daughter Celia, when she fell off a fire escape, then six months later his daughter Francine died from a drug overdose. Their deaths drove him to drinking, but he eventually recovered from the deep depression he was in.

Valli  was born on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey as Francesco Stephen Castellucio. He was inspired to become a singer at the age of 7, when he saw Frank Sinatra in concert.

He told about growing up in a Mafia neighborhood, and how the word was out to leave him alone. He told Rather that he lost a lot of friends, who were found in trunks of car in mob killings.

His name was changed when his mentor “Texas” Jane Valli was helping him and he decided to take her last name. It was about this time, that Valli was barbering till he became successful in the music business.

The Four Seasons

First Number One Hits

Success didn’t come easy for Valli who started singing in 1951, and he sang with various groups till the Four Seasons were formed in 1960 and named after a cocktail lounge.

Vee Jay record label was the label that they found the most success with. Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry both debuted in 1962 and went to #1 on the Billboard chart. Walk Like a Man was their last #1 hit on the Vee Jay label in 1963.

Moved to Philips/Smash Label

They had their first hit on the Philips/Smash label, when they recorded Dawn which went to #3 in January of 1964. Rag Doll was their last #1 song in June of 1964. Valli started recording albums as a solo artist, but still worked with the Four Seasons.

May of 1967 would bring his first solo hit in My Eyes Adored You which went to #1 on the Billboard chart.

Changing Labels

Valli changed labels again and would record Oh What A Night in December of 1975 on Private Stock record label. He would record his last #1 hit in May of 1978, when Grease went to the top spot on the Billboard chart.

He didn’t record another single that charted after June of 1994 according to his Wikipedia discography.

More From Interview

Dan Rather asked Valli why he is still singing at 81, and he said that he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He said he tried retiring a time or two, but it just made him want to return to singing. Rather mentioned the excellent memory of Valli and he said he memorized the lyrics to about 2,000 songs.

Valli also mentioned about his acting career and said he had been on Sopranos television program and was recently on a Hawaii Five-0 episode.

He said he had plenty of money, but still won’t buy something until it is on sale. He says he got that from his childhood.

The Four Seasons were one of those groups like the Beach Boys and Bee Gees, that had their own distinct sound. Valli’s falsetto voice is what made the Four Seasons stand out from the other groups.

We are wishing Frankie Valli a lot more years on the road. He is truly an American icon.

 

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Classic Television – Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie Nelson, David Nelson, Harriet Hilliard and Ricky Nelson 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was first broadcast on radio in 1944 and could be heard on radio, until 1954 when the radio show ended on June 18. 1954. Only 83 of the shows can be bought today for listening to, out of the hundreds of shows made during their 10 year run on radio.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television program was first televised on October 10, 1952, and for the first two years could be heard on radio and seen on television, till the radio series ended in 1954. The last television episode was telecast on September 3, 1966. The 14 year run on television makes the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet the longest running sitcom,  on American television still 49 years later.

Ricky Nelson recorded his first #1 song Poor Little Fool in 1957, which incidentally also was the first #1 song on the new Billboard Hot 100 chart. Ricky often sang on the show, which gave him even more exposure for his singing career.

Ozzie Nelson and Don Defore

Don Defore portrayed Ozzie’s neighbor Thorny on the show. He would later gain fame as playing George Baxter on Hazel, when Hazel would refer to him as Mr. B.

Ozzie Nelson wrote 178 of the 435 episodes of the show.

The shows are not being shown on any television network that I know of. If you know of the show being on television please comment, so we can share the information with other fans of the show.

It is sad that the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet shows are not being shown. The show represents life at a simpler time back in the 50’s and then continued to entertain fans, even though the country was at war with Vietnam in the 60’s and there was unrest on college campuses.

All four members of the Nelson family have died since the show left the air.

Ozzie Nelson died June 3, 1975 at the age of 79 in Hollywood, California.

Ricky Nelson died December 31, at the age of 45 in a plane crash in Dekalb, Texas. 

Harriet Hilliard died October 2, 1994 at the age of 85 in Laguna Beach, California.

David Nelson died January 11, 2011 at the age of 74 in Los Angeles, California. 

 

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Dr. B.R.Lakin – Old Time Evangelist Gone But Not Forgotten

 

Dr. Bascom Ray Lakin was born January 5, 1901 in Fort Gay, West Virginia. He was one of the last of the old-time evangelists, that didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear, but told us what God wanted us to hear. He was known as a “country preacher”, but he preached at the huge Cadle Tabernacle, in Indianapolis, Indiana, that seated 10,000 and a choir loft with 1,400 seats. He received $7 a month in his first pastorate.

His mother wanted a “preacher man” and she got one with the birth of Dr. Lakin. Someone asked him once why he was born in a house, instead of in a hospital and he replied “I wanted to be close to my mother”.

 

 

 

This sermon is an excellent example of old-time preaching by Dr. Lakin.

Dr. Lakin died on March 15, 1984 at the age of 82, and was buried on the grounds of Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia and was so well-respected by Jerry Falwell, that the Religious Education building was named after Lakin.

45 of Dr. Lakin’s sermons can be listened to, or downloaded at this website.

http://gracebaptistchurchmadisonville.com/Speakers%20from%20the%20past%20CD/1%20Sermons%20by%20B.R.%20Lakin/Lakin_index.html

Dr. Lakin may have died 31 years ago, but audio and video recordings he made so many years ago make it possible, for us to listen to his preaching for years to come.

 

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Television Killed The Old Time Radio Star

Families would gather around the radio during old-time radio days and listen to the shows together.

Old time radio was broadcast over the radio networks from 1926-1962. Old time radio died on September 30,1962, when the last scripted shows Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and aired on September 30, 1962.

Anyone that was born that day would be 52 years old today, since the 53rd anniversary won’t be observed, until September 30 of this year. A 10-year-old that day would be at least 52 years old today. Anyone in their 40’s or 50’s in 1962 would be in their 80’s, 90’s or even 100 years old today. For instance my dad was 48 years old in 1962 and is 100 years old exactly now.

The advent of television spelled the end of old-time radio, even though it was a slow death, as old-time radio hung on for several years, after the emergence of television. The best thing about old-time radio is that the listeners get to use their imagination, as they listen to the shows.

Old-time radio ruled for many years, but television killed the radio star.

 

I was about 10 years old when I first remember listening to old-time radio shows. Dragnet was one of my favorite shows and also remember listening to Bob Hope. My mother liked to listen to shows like Stella Dallas, Pepper Young’s Family, Lorenzo Jones, Just Plain Bill, Whispering Streets and Edge of Night, which ran from 1937 to 2009 on radio or television and sometimes simultaneously.

 

Don McNeil 1907-1996 (Hosted Don McNeils Breakfast Club 1933-1968

I will never forget the opening song to each show.

Good morning, breakfast clubbers,
   Good morning to ya.
   We get up bright and early,
   Just to how-dy-do ya.

These are some of my favorite old-time radio shows that I have listened to the most:

Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden of Amos and Andy Show

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were the stars of Amos and Andy from 1928-1960 on network radio. Correll and Gosden portrayed black characters from the radio studio. They had to use multiple voices, for the different characters in the shows. The radio series outlasted the television version of the show, since the television version ended in the middle 50’s.

The source of most of the humor on the show was from the Kingfish character, who duped the Andrew H. Brown character out of his money. The fights that Kingfish had with his wife Sapphire and mother-in-law who he lovingly referred to as the battle-axe were legendary.

Chester Morris & Joe Stone

Boston Blackie 1945-1950

Boston Blackie was portrayed by Richard Kollmar, who was the husband of columnist and TV celebrity Dorothy Kilgallen. The best part of the show for me was the interplay, between Blackie and Inspector Faraday, who thinks every crime committed on the show was done by Blackie since he was an ex-con turned detective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvsN5a0wXBg

William Bendix 1906-1964

Life of Riley 1941-1951

Chester A. Riley was a bumbling oaf who seldom did anything right on the Life Of Riley old-time radio series, but he was also one of the most likeable characters ever on radio. These shows are timeless, and just as funny today as they were 63 years ago, when the last show aired. Riley’s character was famous for saying “What a revoltin’ development this is”. He is paid a visit by the local undertaker Digby O’Dell who likes to use funeral jargon, when speaking to Riley like saying “Mummies the word”, instead of mum’s the word.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugHEUTBG7ds

I have listened to the show above from You Tube and it is one of my favorites.

Harold Peary as the Great Gildersleeve

The Great Gildersleeve is one of my favorite old-time radio shows. Harold Peary was the perfect actor to portray Gildersleeve. He plays the water commissioner in a small town and the other characters make the show even better, from his son Leroy, to Peavy the druggist and Judge Hooker his friend/enemy depending on what was going on in a particular episode.

Old-Time Radio Websites

The best old-time radio website is otrcat.com. The website has a free show to listen to of most shows mentioned on the website. It has a lot of information about each show, plus if you right-click on save as link you can download a show to your computer for free.

http://www.otrcat.com/index.php

I found out in the 90’s that you could buy MP3 CD’s of the old-time radio shows and collected 17,000 episodes of old-time radio shows. The shows are on 178 MP3 CD’s and total over 8,000 hours of listening. It sounds like an expensive hobby, but I bought over 850 Jack Benny shows for only $12. This is my complete collection:

List of Old Time Radio Shows

This is a list of my old-time radio shows and the first number is how many episodes of a show I have in the collection and the last number on the right is the total number of hours of that show:

No. Of Shows CDs Name of Show Hours Total

44 same CD Maisie 22:00 22:00

1 same CD Breakfast Club 1:00 23:00

1 same CD Candid Microphone 1:00 24:00

2 same CD Groucho Marx 1:00 25:00

9 same CD Martin and Lewis 4:50 29:50

36 same CD My Favorite Husband 18:00 47:50

5 same CD Nazi Eyes 2:50 50:40

2 same CD Pete Kelly\’s Blues 1:00 51:40

869 9 Jack Benny 433:00 1135:40

100 1 Jack Benny 50:00 101:40

70 1 OTR Sampler 35:00 136:40

62 1 My Favorite Husband 31:00 167:40

296 2 Bob and Ray 100:00 267:40

360 4 Dragnet 180:00 447:40

190 2 Burns and Allen 95:00 542:40

138 2 Fred Allen 69:00 611:40

182 2 Life of Riley 91:00 702:40

199 1 Red Skelton 98:00 1233:40

96 1 Phillip Marlowe 48:00 1281:40

230 1 Cavalcade of America 115:00 1396:40

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 1422:40

79 1 Gangbusters 39:50 1462:30

114 1 Inner Sanctum 57:00 1519:30

41 1 Mel Blanc 20:50 1540:20

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 1591:10

209 2 Christmas Collection 104:50 1696:00

106 1 OTR CAT Sampler 53:00 1749:00

54 1 The Bickersons 25:00 1774:00

52 1 Box 13 26:00 1800:00

381 4 Family Theatre 190:50 1990:50

60 20 cass Walter Cronkite 60 Best 30:00 2020:50

64 1 Abbott and Costello 37:00 2057:50

76 1 Bob Hope 38:00 2095:50

164 1 Groucho Marx 82:00 2177:50

60 1 Ozzie and Harriet 30:00 2207:50

249 3 This Is Your FBI 124:50 2332:40

290 1 Easy Aces and Mr. Ace 75:00 2407:40

510 6 Great Gildersleeve 255:00 2662:40

105 1 Phil Harris-Alice Faye 52:50 2715:30

95 1 Nick Carter 47:50 2763:20

734 7 Fibber McGee and Molly 367:00 3130:20

189 2 Command Performance 12:00 3142:20

2 1 2 Complete Broadcast Days 36:00 3178:20

183 1 Variety CD 91:50 3270:10

78 1 Richard Diamond 39:50 3310:00

102 1 You Bet Your Life 56:00 3366:00

30 1 Mike Shayne 15:00 3381:00

95 1 Sampler CD 47:50 3428:50

82 1 Jack Webb Collection 41:00 3469:50

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 3495:50

255 1 Lum and Abner 64:00 3559:50

25 1 Rocky Forturne 12:50 3572:40

33 1 Milton Berle 16:50 3589:30

45 1 Big Band Remotes 22:50 3612:20

240 1 Easy Aces 60:00 3672:20

51 1 My Friend Irma 25:50 3698:10

539 10 Lux Radio Theater 535:00 4233:10

57 1 Dinah Shore Collection 28:50 4262:00

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4298:50

38 1 Honest Harold 19:00 4317:50

64 1 Gangbusters 32:00 4349:50

186 1 Your Hit Parade 50:00 4399:50

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4436:40

49 1 Richard Diamond 24:50 4461:30

71 1 Adventures of Maisie 35:50 4497:20

75 1 Father Knows Best 27:50 4525:10

182 2 Boston Blackie 91:00 4616:10

68 1 Nightbeat 34:00 4650:10

931 4 Lum and Abner 232:00 4882:10

201 2 Red Skelton 100:50 4983:00

367 3 Amos and Andy 183:50 5166:50

Part of shows 1 Bloopers and Outtakes 12:00 5178:50

65 1 Broadway Is My Beat 32:50 5211:40

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 5262:30

24 1 Martin and Lewis 12:50 5275:20

104 1 OTR CAT Sampler Vol. 2 52:00 5327:20

62 1 Sam Spade 31:00 5358:20

485 5 Gunsmoke 242:50 5601:10

94 1 Let George Do It 47:00 5648:10

81 1 Duffy\’s Tavern 40:50 5689:00

181 1 Mary Noble 40:50 5648:50

414 4 Bing Crosby 212:00 5860:50

68 1 Birthday CD 34:00 5894:50

129 1 Bill Stern 30:00 5924:50

117 1 Johnny Dollar Vol. 4 47:00 5971:50

61 1 Radio City Playhouse 30:50 6002:40

48 1 Railroad Hour 24:00 6026:40

88 1 Words of War 44:00 6070:40

88 1 Christmas Collection 44:00 6114:40

48 1 Nightwatch 22:00 6136:40

124 1 Christmas-Cinnamon Bears 50:00 6186:40

79 1 Jimmy Durante-Martin & Lewis 39:00 6225:40

48 1 Nightwatch 24:00 6249:40

81 1 Broadway Is My Beat OTR CAT 42:00 6291:40

232 1 Perry Mason 58:00 6349:40

25 1 Stand By For Crime 12:50 6362:30

96 1 Hopalong Cassidy 48:00 6410:30

94 2 Screen Director\’s Playhouse 47:00 6457:30

34 1 It Pays To Be Ignorant 17:00 6474:30

99 2 My Favorite Husband 44:50 6519:20

19 1 Curtain Time 9:50 6529:20

104 1 Guest Star 25:00 6554:10

175 2 Screen Guild Theater 87:50 6642:00

92 1 Theater Of Romance 46:00 6596:00

34 1 Bright Star 17:00 6613:00

205 2 Escape 102:50 6715:50

31 1 Nero Wolfe 15:50 6731:40

30 same Crime Club 15:00 6746:40

141 1 Grand Ole Opry 50:00 6796:40

122 1 Christmas Shows-Cinnamon Bears 61:00 6857:40

53 1 The Lineup 106:00 6963:40

258 3 Calling All Cars 129:00 7092:40

929 7 Suspense 464:50 7557:30

41 1 Six Shooter 20:00 7577:30

79 1 OTRCAT Sampler #5 43:30 7620:30

229 2 Wild Bill Hickok 47:00 7667:30

22 1 Arthur Godfrey 11:00 7678:30

61 1 Eddie Cantor 30:30 7719:00

29 1 My Little Margie 14:30 7733:30

102 1 Bickersons – Blondie 51:00 7784:30

174 2 Bob Hope 87:00 7871:30

56 1 Frances Langford 28:00 7899:30

85 1 Mr. District Attorney 42:30 7942:00

31 1 Henry Morgan 13:00 7955:00

68 1 I Was A Communist For FBI 34:00 7989:00

78 1 Information Please 39:00 8028:00

36 1 FBI In Peace And War 18:00 8046:00

49 1 Edward G. Robinson 24:30 8070:30

17225 178 8070:30

The 17,225 is the number of episodes…178 is number of MP3 CD\’s the shows are on…The 8070:30 is the number of total hours of old time radio in the collection.

 

 

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Jack Lord : From Stoney Burke to Hawaii Five-O

Jack Lord 1920-1998

Jack Lord was born John Joseph Patrick Ryan on December 30,1920 in Brooklyn, New York according to the rememberingjacklord.com website. Jack attended John Adams High School in Queens.

It didn’t take Jack long to understand what hard work meant, since his father sent him on freighters, during the summer, which traveled all over the world. He had the unique distinction of playing on the varsity football team, and being an accomplished artist, while attending high school.

After graduating from high school Jack played on the New York University football team as a tackle. He and his older brother Bill opened the Village Academy of Art in Greenwich Village, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited two of his paintings.

These two paragraphs from his biography at rememberingjacklord.com tell of his first marriage and being torpedoed by German U-boats during World War II:

In 1942, Jack married Ann Cicely Willard. Jack described it as a youthful romance and said they married following a whirlwind courtship. The marriage was not a good one, for the couple were young, and Jack was working away from home. They had a child, John Ryan, Jr., who died at the age of 13 following a brief illness. 

During World War II, Jack served with the U. S. Maritime Service aboard Liberty ships.  It was not an easy assignment, for the German U-boats were always on patrol. The ship on which Jack was serving was torpedoed. With the fantail, rudder, and after-stern were destroyed, and the ship began to sink. There being no time to send an SOS, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. The ship sank in seven minutes, and Jack drifted in a life boat for sixteen hours before being rescued.

He was visiting his brother Bill in Woodstock, New York, when he saw a house that interested him. After meeting the owner Marie L. De Narde they were married later on January 17, 1949.

Changed His Name To Jack Lord

Jack found out there was already an actor, in the actor’s union with the name Jack Ryan, so changed his name to Jack Lord, but only for acting purposes, as he didn’t change his legal name. He picked the name Lord from his family tree.

His first acting job was in the movie Project X in 1949, which was followed by Cry Murder in 1950.

Jack Lord as Stoney Burke 1962-1963

1957 would see him appear in Have Gun – Will Travel and Gunsmoke. He would alternate between television and the movies, for the next few years, until he was given the starring role of Stoney Burke on the Stoney Burke television series from 1962-1963. He portrayed a rodeo cowboy on the show.

Jack would freelance between television and movies for the next five years, before landing the job that would make him a household name.

 

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O

I am now watching Hawaii Five-O on Netflix and have almost finished Season 9. I like the way that Jack as Steve McGarrett takes charge and gives almost impossible orders, like Chin Ho and Danno. He tells them to do things, like check every surfboard shop on Oahu, and get the name of everyone, that has bought a surfboard in the last 10 years. Well, maybe not that drastic, but if you watch the show you will notice him giving out orders.

Jack Lord has a presence on the screen, that tells everyone, that he is the one to see, if anyone wants something done the right way.

There are two Hawaii Five-O shows out there now, with CBS running a newer version currently, but the 1968-1980 series is the one I watch, since I left Hawaii in 1966 and can identify, with some of the locations shown and/or mentioned during an episode.

Jack Lord and his wife Marie

Jack Lord made his only appearance, after the end of Hawaii Five-O in M Station: Hawaii a television movie in 1980. He never acted again in the years, which led to his death, on January 21, 1988 in Honolulu,Hawaii at the age of 77.

He lived the last 30 years of his life in Hawaii with his wife and liked to walk on Kahala Beach, where he had his ashes scattered after his death.

After he and his wife died they left $40 million to many charities in Hawaii, which are detailed in the following article:

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jan/22/ln/FP601220358.html

Jack was considered for the part of Captain Kirk in Star Trek 1966, but was turned down, since he wanted to be co-producer and own a percentage of the series, so William Shatner had to be thrilled, that Lord turned down the role.

I have noticed that it is difficult to find a photo online of Jack Lord in later life.

This website tells about Jack’s interaction with the other actors:

  • Lord was infamous for being imperious and hard to work with. However, fellow?Hawaii Five-Operformers Kam Fong, Zulu, Harry Endo, and Jimmy Borges have credited him as professional, generous, and normally soft-spoken. Many cast members considered him a friend and a mentor. Jack Lord was 6’2″ and liked to appear as the tallest actor on-screen – he often wore elevating footwear when appearing with Richard Denning, Al Harrington, and tall guest stars.

Other trivia from this same article:

http://www.jack-lord.info/about-jack-lord-hawaiifive-0/176-jack-lord-trivia.html

 

 

 

 

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70 Years of Christmas Memories

 

This article could have been titled 62 Years of Christmas Memories, since my first memory of Christmas would be of 1952 Christmas, when we lived close to Louisiana College in PIneville,, Louisiana. My first memory is of the Christmas stockings that were not hung by the chimney with care, since we had no chimney, but they still were hung with care. I will never forget my mom staying up all night, to wrap presents and hang the stockings.

One of my favorite memories was going to S.H. Kress store in Alexandria and trying to make my money stretch enough to buy presents for everyone in the family, which consisted of mom, dad, two brothers and one sister at the time. It was fun wrapping the presents, even though my wrapping skills were rudimentary at best.

Another memory is the Christmas tree lighted up with lights. We bought our trees from the Lion’s Club, where they were sold in front of Huey P. Long Hospital on Main Street.

It was exciting to ride on the Boy’s Scouts float in the Christmas parade, when I was with the Pineville Boys Scouts.

 

I will never forget the miniature church that would be displayed every Christmas in downtown Alexandria. It was misplaced for a few years, but the last I knew it is back on display again .

City Hall lighted up for Christmas in the 1950’s.

This photo was taken from the 2013 Christmas parade in Pineville. I can remember some brutally cold nights, on the night of the Christmas parade over the years. I haven’t been to a Pineville Christmas parade for at least seven years now, but time can’t erase the memories of the ones I have seen.

The Alexandria water tower lighted up for Christmas has been another Christmas tradition for many years. It was easy to find since it could be seen from a distance.

 

Policemen Injured in Christmas Parade Accident

One Alexandria Christmas parade in 70’s had an accident, which I personally witnessed. A reserve sheriff’s deputy was talking to my mom, then said he had to get back to work. A couple of minutes later that same deputy directed a car on a side street onto the street where the parade was almost starting . However, a Alexandria policemen, on a motorcycle on the parade route was hit by the car. The policeman flew up in the air and landed on the car. He was seriously hurt and if I remember right the accident happened before the start of the parade. I will never forget the policeman going airborne, before landing on the car.

 

Annual Christmas Party at Louisiana College

It was a highlight for me every Christmas when the faculty of Louisiana College and their families would have their annual Christmas party.

 

Christmas Eve Services At Pineville Park Baptist Church

I miss the Christmas Eve services at Pineville Park Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. The lighted candles, the music and the words spoken by the pastor made it a special night, that I always looked forward to each year.

 

Christmas Lights in Pineville

It wasn’t Christmas in Pineville, until  the Christmas lights were put up during the Christmas season.

 

Family Altar On Christmas Morning

We always had our family altar, before we opened Christmas presents. My mom would read the devotional that day, from the Home Life magazine.

 

Christmas Bonuses

We would receive our Christmas bonus at the Alexandria Town Talk, for many years till Gannett bought the Town Talk and put a screeching halt to that nonsense. I was working for the Monroe Morning World in Monroe, Louisiana from 1974-1976 and will never forget the $10 Christmas bonus. It really wasn’t a $10 bonus, though since they took tax out of the $10, so the check was for $9 and a few cents left over.

 

Christmas With 8 Degree Weather

I will never forget one Christmas, when it was 8 degrees. The car wouldn’t start, when I tried to start it later that day, so I could go to work. I ended up walking the two miles, to the Town Talk and freezing in the cold wind.

 

Christmas In Hawaii

I spent three Christmases in Hawaii, while stationed at Schofield Barracks,  in 1963, 1964 and 1965, before being sent to Vietnam. I went to a USO show, that had performers singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas. It wasn’t a great song selection, since I didn’t want to be reminded, that I wouldn’t be going home that Christmas.

 

One of my favorite Christmas albums

 

Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the great Christmas music. O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, with O Little Town of Bethlehem a close second.

My favorite secular Christmas songs are songs like The Christmas Song,  White Christmas, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. 

 

Bob Hope and Connie Stevens appearing in Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1970.

Andy Williams on Christmas Show

Christmas Specials On Television

The Bob Hope Christmas specials were another favorite part of Christmas. I was impressed that he missed many Christmases at home, to entertain American troops around the world. I also enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas specials each year.

 

Old Time Radio Christmas Programs

I collect old-time radio shows and some of my favorite shows are the Christmas episodes, of shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve. One of my all time favorites is A Daddy for Christmas, which was heard on Family Theater.

This is the funniest show I have ever heard on old-time radio. It is the first Fred Allen radio show ever broadcast from 1932 and is now 82 years old. Best part is when a speaker gives a pep talk to the employees of the Mammoth Department Store. Fast forward through the music at the first to get to show. It can be heard on You Tube. You can be glad you weren’t around in 1932, because the music is terrible, but just fast forward through it, especially the lady that is making a futile attempt at singing. It is sad they didn’t have the technology in 1932,  to rid the show of all the horrific singing.

Funniest Christmas Show Ever

The Jack Benny Christmas program is hilarious, and the dialogue between Jack Benny and Mel Blanc shown in photo is priceless. The show is funny from start to finish.

Best Christmas Movie

It’s A Wonderful Life is the best of all the Christmas movies, but that is only my opinion and my opinion with three dollars will buy a gallon of gas, so it is not really worth that much. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are the most recognizable stars in the movie, but Frank Faylen, who portrayed the father of Dobie Gillis, in the show of the same name was a cab driver in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Christmas Songs

 

I have been hearing the same Christmas songs, for most of my life, but never tire of them. I know I will leave out some great Christmas songs, but will list some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs with name and writer/writers of the songs. 

White Christmas 1940 – Irving Berlin 

This is one of most well-known Christmas songs. 50 million copies of this song have been sold, which makes it the best-selling song of all time.

Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940, but there is some question, if that is the correct date. Berlin told his secretary, that he had just written the best song ever written. That was saying something, since Berlin had written a lot of very well-known songs over the year. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song, when he sang it on Christmas Day 1941, on his radio show. It is ironic that the song was first sung just 18 days, after Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

500 versions of the song have been recorded.

Blue Christmas 1948 – Billy Hayes, J.W. Johnson

Doye O’Dell was the first singer to record Blue Christmas, but Ernest Tubb took it to #1 on the Most Played Country Juke Box Records chart, in January of 1950. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957. I like both the Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley versions best of the over 65 recorded versions.

O Holy Night 1843 – Placide Cappeau

It is amazing that the songwriter Placide Cappeau was an atheist, and it is surprising, that an atheist could write such power words and music. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to hear sung at Christmas. John Sullivan Dwight, who was an Unitarian minister wrote the song for singing in 1855. O Holy Night was the second song, to be heard in radio history. Tenor Enrico Caruso recorded, what is the most famous version of the song in 1916. It isn’t Christmas, if this song is not heard at least once, during the Christmas season.

Please Come Home For Christmas 1960 – Charles Brown, Eugene Redd

I am surprised that Please Come Home For Christmas peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Some people refer to the song as “Bells Will Be Ringing”. The Eagles recorded the song in 1978 and it went to #18 on the Billboard chart. I never get tired of hearing this song sung and it starts like this:

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singin’ ‘Silent Night’
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Year’s night

Friends and relations send salutation
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas, yes Christmas my dear
It’s the time of year to be with the one you love

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1943 – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram

Bing Crosby was the first to record I’ll Be Home For Christmas in 1943. It was recorded during World War II, to honor servicemen overseas, who weren’t able to come home for Christmas. I know firsthand, how this song hits home, since I spent Christmas in Hawaii in 1963, 1964 and 1965. I played the song on my record player in Hawaii, but it wasn’t well received by the other soldiers in the barracks, who said they didn’t want to be reminded, that they would be going home for Christmas. The Crosby version peaked at # 3 on the Billboard chart.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell requested this song be played, while on a Gemini 7 mission, in December of 1965. My personal favorite recording of the song was by Johnny Mathis.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 1868 – Phillips Brooks, Lewis Redner

Phillips Brooks was inspired by visiting Bethlehem in 1865, and three years later in 1868 wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the tune for the song. I like this song so much, that I have sang it often, over the years for special music at church. The song conjures up images of how it was on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Christmas In My Hometown

There is little information about Christmas In My Hometown, but did find out the writer was Lassaye Van Buren Holmes. My favorite version of the song was the Bobby Vinton version, but Charley Pride also recorded an excellent version of the song. This song reminds me of the times we used to travel, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with family, as far as 200 miles away over the years.

Christmas in Dixie 1982 – Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Mark Herndon

By now in New York City, there’s snow on the ground
And out in California, the sunshine’s falling down
And, maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

It’s windy in Chicago the kids are out of school
There’s magic in Motown the city’s on the move
In Jackson, Mississippi, to Charlotte, Caroline
And all across the nation, it’s the peaceful Christmas time

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

And from Fort Payne, Alabama
God bless y’all, we love ya
Happy New Year, good night
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas tonight

Christmas in Dixie not only had great words in the song written, by the members of Alabama in 1982, but also made me think of what it was like living in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Christmases of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This is the kind of song, that will take a listener back in time, to the good old days in the south, when families spent Christmas together.

The Christmas Song 1944 – Bob Wells, Mel Torme

The Christmas Song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. This song is special for me, since I was born in 1944 and the song was written that year, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme. It is strange, that Torme wrote the song, but didn’t record it himself till later.

The song has been recorded from artists like Trace Adkins, to Justin Bieber, to Garth Brooks, to James Brown, to Glen Campbell, to Frank Sinatra, to Bob Dylan, to New Kids on the Block, to George Strait. My favorite version is by the great Johnny Mathis, who has been recording for 58 years now and is 79 years old.

Jingle Bell Rock 1958 – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Bobby Helms recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 and it was released in 1958. Brenda Lee later recorded it. This is one song you can almost be sure of hearing, at least once during the Christmas season. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists from many different genres of music, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth 1944 – Donald Yetter Gardner

Donald Yetter Gardner wrote the novelty song All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth in 1944. He was a second grade teacher, who asked the kids in his class, what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed most of them were missing at least one tooth. It gave him the idea to write the song and he was surprised it became a national hit.

Spike Jones and his madcap band the City Slickers were the first to record the song. It wasn’t until 1947, when Spike and his band recorded the song.

The song has been recorded by a diverse range of singers from Alvin and the Chipmunks to George Strait. I just can’t imagine George Strait singing this song. The writer Gardner preferred the Nat King Cole version. The song went to #1 twice for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Tommy Connor

Jimmy Boyd was 13 years old when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Singles chart in December of 1952. The song was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, until Boyd explained the premise of the song to the Archdiocese and the ban was lifted.

                                                                                                                    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 – Johnny Marks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story written for Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Harry Brannon first sang it on a radio program in November, then  . Gene Autry recorded it in December of 1949. The song made history, by becoming the first song to fall completely off the chart, after reaching #1.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950 and the song reached #14 on the Billboard chart. Dolly Parton and the Rugrats were two of many singers or groups to record the song over the years.

Jimmy Boyd would appear a few years later, in the Bachelor Father television series and is shown the above photo, with John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran, whose character was his love interest in the show.

Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1600’s or 1700’s – Writer unknown

Adeste Fideles or O  Come All Ye Faithful, as it is known in the United States has an unverified history, so there is no known date of it being written, nor is the identity of the writer known. This article explains, why the origin of this so song is so questionable. One thing that is known is that it is one of the most sung songs in churches and also sung by carolers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674120/The-story-behind-the-carol-O-come-all-ye-faithful.html

I know there will be a lot of great songs left out of this article, but time restraints restrict me from writing any longer, since this has taken about three hours to put together.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

 

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