What We Didn’t Have in 1950

1954 Admiral Television

I was 10 years old in 1954, when we bought our first television. We didn’t even buy the television to watch television. If I remember correctly my sister had a lazy eye, and prescribed a television (talk about an expensive prescription) so she would use her lazy eye more. We fixed a screen on one side that fit over half the screen, that made her use her lazy eye. If it wasn’t for her eye problem we probably wouldn’t have bought a television so soon.

The first thing I remember watching on the television was the movie Buck Privates (1941) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Howdy Doody would come on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then was followed by Pinky Lee, then usually a western movie with Bob Maynard, Kit Carson, Gene Autry and many others would come on till it was time for the Camel Caravan news program with John Cameron “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” Swayze doing a 15 minute news program. He was later well-known for being the spokesman for Timex watches, as he demonstrated how much abuse the watches could take and keep on ticking.

We only had one channel at first, so we had no problem working the controls. It became more complicated, when cable television companies began to go into business. We then had the old wired remote controls, which later went the way of the do-do bird and gave way to remote controls with batteries. Now we could not only change the channels, but could also turn the volume up and down, adjust the picture, record programs to watch later and best of all could zap through the commercials. Sponsors of the television programs were not too hep on the idea, since you record a show, then watch it about 20 minutes later and zap through the commercials and cut an hour-long show into about 40 minutes minus the commercials. After the show we would wonder who was sponsoring the show.

We got along fine without cell phones, since there was no such thing in 1950. I only had a cell phone when I needed one for working as a caregiver, since I had to call the office all night, so they knew I wasn’t dozing off at work. I haven’t had a cell phone since 2011, since I never did learn to text on the contraptions.

We didn’t Google it in 1950. We would just go to the library and would usually find the information there. It would be 48 years later, before we could Google it and find information in seconds, that used to involve riding to library and digging through index cards, or going through the reference books section to find the same information, that we can find in seconds today.

I don’t remember having a microwave oven, while growing up so got along well without one. I did find out later, that after buying one years later, that it was easy to ruin popcorn, by cooking it too long. Now I never cook it as long as recommended, to prevent having to throw out charcoal popcorn. My favorite use for microwave ovens is to melt ice cream in it. I am not a fan of ice cream right out of the freezer, so would put it in microwave and leave it on for about 2 hours….just kidding….about 35 seconds later the ice cream would be good and creamy but still cold.

It was about 1966 or 1967 when we got our first air conditioner. I was about 21 at the time and had just came back from Vietnam, and was thinking it would have been nice to have an air conditioner over there. I didn’t know how to act with an air conditioner, since I had lived 21 years without one, so it took awhile to get used to putting on a jacket when the air conditioner was running. I didn’t have to worry about putting on a jacket from 1992 to 1998, since I was in bankruptcy and had to choose between eating and staying cool and eating won out. I bought a 10 inch box fan and had it blowing on my face, and I was able to sleep at night with no problem during those six years. I couldn’t wait to get to work at Town Talk, since air conditioning usually worked there.

I remember when we were growing up that we bought ice in blocks and put the blocks in the refrigerator. About 60 years later we bought our first icemaker, since my wife liked to have crushed ice. It was nice having crushed ice, till the icemaker went on the blink. Best of all it saved paying $2 or more for a bag of crushed ice.

The only personal computer we owned back in 1950 was our brain that computed what we learned in school, and solved math problems before Common Core made it all complicated. My mother bought us our first computer, a Commodore 64 which was very rudimentary compared to the computers of today. It was mostly a machine to play games on, and we sometimes would type the code for games out of magazines published for Commodore 64 users. Later on we bought more advanced computers, but they were still too complicated for me. It took me a year to figure out how to send emails. I have never been a computer whiz. I know how to do the basics like copy and paste, but don’t ask me how to hook up a router or modem, or the computer may cease to function.

Before we bought our television in 1954 the only entertainment we had been listening to was old-time radio shows on our table radio, and playing records on our phonograph player. Then cassettes became popular, but were a real headache if the tape got tangled up inside the tape player. 8 track players were also around about this time, but I completely missed the boat on 8 track players, since I never owned a 8 track player or a 8 track tape.

The compact disc became the most popular way to listen to music, since the CD players let you pick a certain track if you wanted to play it, unlike cassette players where you had to more or less play the whole tape to hear a song from the starting point.

It was 2004 when I bought my first MP3 player and I was surprised to learn that you could carry thousands of songs, in one device and the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox (pictured above) was my first MP3 player. It was 40 GB and I had 3,000 songs on it the last time I checked. You could go directly to any of the 3,000 songs in a matter of seconds.

One of my favorite uses for the MP3 player was to listen to old-time radio shows from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I found out I could buy 800 Jack Benny shows for $12 on a MP3 CD. Sam’s at about that time was selling about 10 shows for $20, so I bought the MP3 CD’s exclusively from old-time radio retailers and ebay sellers and it was possible to build up my collection fast. I currently own 17,000 episodes of many old-time radio shows of all genres. Best thing all 17,000 episodes fit inside one binder manufactured for CD’s.

All I had to do was place the MP3 CD’s into the computer and copy the files into the computer, then transfer them from computer to the MP3 player, and it works the same way with regular music CD’s.

Whoever invented the GPS probably had me in mind, since I hated folding and unfolding paper maps, to find out if I was going the right direction, to arrive at my destination. I don’t know how many times I had taken wrong roads, before the GPS was invented. It still is scary when the GPS tells you that you have arrived at your destination, when you are in the middle of nowhere with no houses in sight.

It is amazing to me that this lady telling me directions is flying around up in space, with nothing better to do, than to keep an eye on my vehicle, and if I miss a turn she is nice enough to say recalculating and letting me know we will still arrive even if it is a 20 mile detour to get to the destination.

One of the handiest inventions is the automated teller machine, that gives people money at all hours of the day and night. It used to be if they locked up the bank on Saturday afternoon, then the customer would have to wait till Monday morning to make a transaction. Now they can drain their bank accounts down to nothing in just minutes, instead of draining it a little bit at a time, while waiting in line at the bank.

Sometimes criminals have to call for assistance even with automated banking, if the bank card they stole won’t work, or even worse the automated teller machine takes the card and won’t return it to the bank card thief. The bank will send someone to the bank and tell them the pin number for the card and apologize for the inconvenience.

My mom was very slow when using the automated tellers, and more than once someone would walk in the building housing the ATM machine and get aggravated about the long wait, then finally go back to their car, drive off with wheels squealing in search of a ATM machine with someone faster using the machine.

Sometimes I wonder how we got by back in 1950 with no television, no cell phone, no Google, no icemaker, no GPS, no MP3 player, no ATM machine, no personal computer and no microwave oven. We managed to get by without all of these inventions, because most of them hadn’t been invented in 1950.

Advertisement

Kenny Rogers – From Houston Projects To Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers and First Edition singing Don’t Take Your Love to Town in 1972

Kenny Rogers was being interviewed by Dan Rather on The Big Interview, and it gave me a chance to learn more about Kenny Rogers. He told Rather about growing up in Houston in the projects, and that his mother only had a third grade education.

He said he didn’t realize how poor they were, till he started school and realized his family was on another rung.

Dan Rather interviewing Kenny Rogers on The Big Interview

Rogers was born Kenneth Donald “Kenny” Rogers on August 21, 1938, when the president was President Franklin Roosevelt. He had a poor, but happy childhood and his mom told him to be happy where you are, and he remembered that advice during his career.

21 of his songs have reached #1 on the record charts. It was 38 years ago in 1977, when Lucille became his first #1 country hit. Daytime Friends also went to # 1 in 1977. Love or Something Like It went to #1 in 1978, while The Gambler peaked at #2 that year.

Kenny Rogers singing his 1979 hit She Believes In Me

She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life and Coward of the County went to #1 in 1979. The hits kept coming in 1980 with Lady going to #1. Two lesser known songs reached #1 on adult contemporary charts in 1981, but two of his biggest hits Love Will Turn You Around and Through the Years topped the adult contemporary charts in 1982.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Islands in the Stream

1983 would see Rogers have #1 duet hits with Sheena Easton on We’ve Got Tonight and Islands in the Stream with Dolly Parton.

His  #1 hits in 1984 were Rogers singing with Kim Carnes and James Ingram on What About Me. It went to #1 on adult chart, but only to #70 on country chart. Crazy was his other #1 hit in 1984.

Morning Desire was his only song that charted in 1985 and it went to #1. Tomb of the Unknown Love was his only #1 song in 1986. Another duet this time with Ronnie Milsap on Make No Mistake, She’s Mine in 1987 was his last #1 hit in the 80’s.

Kenny Rogers singing Through the Years a great song for a 50th wedding anniversary

12 years would pass, before he had another #1 hit. It was Buy Me a Rose, which was recorded with Allison Krauss and Billy Dean in 1999. His only other #1 songs were with Dottie West on When Two World Collide in 1978 and All I Ever Need is You, which was in 1979.

Starred in The Gambler movies

Kenny Rogers starred in a series of movies about The Gambler. He also appeared in 17 other films and television shows. His last movie was a 2001 movie Longshot. His last television appearance as an actor was in How I Met Your Mother six years ago in 2009.

He made six appearances as himself in 2014 and in five of those shows he sang, or was shown singing in a clip Islands in the Stream.

Five Marriages

He talked about his five marriages and how he may have been too selfish, and was away from home too much, because of his concert schedule. He expressed concern that he might not be around too much longer, for his 10 year old identical twin sons, since he is 76 and will be 77 in August.

His current marriage with Wanda Miller will reach 18 years on June 1. He was previously married to Marianne Gordon of Hee Haw fame for 16 years.

Kenny Rogers being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers showed Dan Rather the Kenny Rogers exhibit, at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and it was an impressive exhibit. He was inducted in 2013 and he seemed to be glad that he wasn’t inducted sooner, when he might not have appreciated it as much as he does now.

He sold 10 million copies of his Greatest Hits album, which earned him the prestigious Diamond Award, for selling 10 million albums.

Rogers is currently on his Through the Years tour and is showing no signs of slowing down. He sure isn’t doing it for the money, since he is reportedly worth $250 million.

TOUR DATES

  • WINCHESTER, VA

  • March 07, 2015 7:00 p.m.
  • Patsy Cline Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • TAMPA, FL

  • March 21, 2015 5:00 p.m.
  • Busch Gardens – Gwazi Field – Food & Wine Festival
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 10, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 11, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LAS CRUCES, NM

  • April 24, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Las Cruces Country Music Festival – Downtown Las Cruces
    Through The Years World Tour
  • CHANDLER, AZ

  • April 25, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino
    Through The Years World Tour
  • ANGOLA, IN

  • May 08, 2015 7:30 p.m.
  • T. Furth Center for Performing Arts – Trine University
    Through The Years World Tour
  • GREELEY, CO

  • June 28, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Greeley Stampede
    With Special Guest Ronnie Milsap
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LANCASTER, PA

  • July 16, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • American Music Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour

 

The Kenny Rogers interview may be repeated on the AXS TV network, so check listings for the times. 

Dick Haymes – Crooners of the Past

Dick Haymes 1918-1980

Dick Haymes was born on September 13, 1918  in Buenos Aires, Argentina as Richard Benjamin Haymes. He died on March 28, 1980 at the age of 61.

He was considered to be one of the best baritone singers of his era and also acted in numerous films. He first appeared in the movie Mutiny On The Bounty in 1935, as an uncredited actor. Nine years would pass, before he appeared in the movie Four Jills and a Jeep in 1944.

Dick Haymes is seen singing in this clip from State Fair.

Meanwhile, he had sung with the Harry James Orchestra starting in 1939.

Dick Haymes singing Laura, who makes me wish there were singers today, that are half as good as Haymes.

Dick Haymes singing with Helen Forrest the standard It Had to be You.

 Haymes was not successful at marriage having been married six times. His first marriage to Edith Harper was annulled, because she told him she was pregnant, when she was not pregnant. His second marriage to actress Joanne Dru lasted almost eight years.

His third marriage to Rita Hayworth last a little more than two years. He then married actress Fran Jeffries and that marriage lasted just slightly more than six years. However his last marriage to Wendy Smith lasted 14 years and only ended upon his death in 1980. They were married but separated when he died.

He also battled alcohol abuse problems and financial debt.

Haymes received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with one being award for recording and the other for his five years on radio.

His brother-in-law Peter Marshall was the sister of Joanne Dru, who was the second wife of Haymes.

This Is Always

This is Always is my only Dick Haymes music in my collection.

Track Listings

1. You Can’t Be True Dear – Dick Haymes
2. In Love In Vain – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
3. I Wish I Knew – Dick Haymes
4. You Make Me Feel So Young – Dick Haymes
5. Some Sunday Morning – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
6. What Do I Have To Do (To Make You Love Me) – Dick Haymes
7. All Through The Day – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
8. Do You Love Me – Dick Haymes
9. It’s You Or No One – Dick Haymes
10. Tomorrow Is Forever – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
11. A Little Imagination – Dick Haymes
12. This Is Always – Dick Haymes
13. Nature Boy – Dick Haymes
14. Together – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
15. As If I Didn’t Have Enough On My Mind – Dick Haymes
16. That’s For Me – Dick Haymes
17. It’s Magic – Dick Haymes
18. Love Letters – Dick Haymes
19. The More I See You – Dick Haymes
20. I’ll Buy That Dream – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
21. It Might As Well Be Spring – Dick Haymes
22. Oh What It Seemed To Be – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
23. Laura – Dick Haymes
24. Till The End Of Time – Dick Haymes
25. It Had To Be You – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest

Dick Haymes may have died 35 years, but he left a legacy of his music and movies for generations to come.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merle Haggard: From Prison to Country Music Hall of Fame

 

 

Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937 in Oildale, California. Merle’s parents James Francis and Flossie Mae Haggard had moved from Oklahoma three years earlier, when their barn burned during the Great Depression in 1934.

The album pictured above is one of the first Merle Haggard albums in my LP record collection.

Haggard lived out a lot of the songs he wrote and sang. He was a very prolific writer and wrote most of his major hits alone, but did collaborate on a few like Okie From Muskogee.

He grew up in a refrigerated box car, that had been converted into a house and was raised there, after being born in Kern General Hospital in Bakersfield, California according to his biography.

Left Home At Eleven

It was a jolt for Haggard when his father died, when he was only nine years old. Two years later he left home. His mother sent him to live with his great-uncle and great-aunt in Modesto, California.

He said that he really was 21 and in prison, but the part about life without parole was only used to fill out the line.

Haggard was not the kind to stay in one place long and talked two girls into hopping a freight train, that was headed to Los Angeles. They only had $5 so he bought what food he could to feed himself and the two girls.

Then they left the train and he stole a car by hot wiring it. Only problem was that the car traveled only five miles, before running out of gas, so they had to start walking. However, they were soon picked up by policeman in a squad car and Haggard refused to give his name, but the girls gave their names.

Ironically, when all three returned home they were kept from attending school, for three days by their parents.

Merle and some of his friends attempted a burglary of a Bakersfield bar in 1957 and he was meted out a sentence from six months to 15 years. At first he was a real troublemaker in prison, by being very uncooperative. This landed him in solitary for his 21st birthday. His time in solitary gave him the time he needed to get his act together and afterward he was a model prisoner. He was paroled at the age of 23 and then began his road to being a country music star. Governor Ronald Reagan would later give Haggard a full pardon.

A more recent photo of Merle Haggard.

Merle Haggard’s Music

His first Top 10 song would be (My Friends Are Going to Be (Strangers) in 1964, which went to #10 and is one of my favorite Merle Haggard songs. His first #1 hit was I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” in 1966. That would begin a string of 38 #1 hits from 1966-1987.

Even the great George Jones only had 14 #1 hits, so Haggard having 24 more songs reach the #1 spot tells me, that Haggard was even more popular than I had thought.

Surprisingly Swinging Doors, one of his biggest hits only climbed to #5 on the country music charts.

Branded Man would be his second #1 hit in 1967. He had too many #1 hits in his career, to mention all of them individually, but some of my personal favorites were Sing Me Back Home, Mama Tried, Mama’s Hungry Eyes, Workin’ Man Blues, Okie From Muskogee, Fightin’ Side of Me, If We Make It Through December, Big City (a song I never get tired of) and his last #1 hit Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Star.

His discography can be seen at this web page and when you scroll down to his list of singles, then you can see how successful he was during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in particular.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merle_Haggard_discography

 

Personal Life

His personal life was not an easy one with four marriages, that lasted from 1956-1991. His second wife was country singer Bonnie Owens ex-wife of Buck Owens and she was a maid of honor, when he married his third wife. Haggard married another country Leona Williams in 1978 and they were divorced in 1983. He married Theresa Ann Lane on September 11, 1993 and they are still married 21 years later.

Haggard started smoking marijuana at the age of 41 and admitted buying $2,000 worth of cocaine in 1983. Part of his lung was removed in November of 2008, after he was discovered to have lung cancer.

Entered Country Music Hall of Fame

Twenty eight years after his first #1 hit I’m A Lonesome Fugitive Merle Haggard would be admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. The following link takes readers to his page at the Country Music Hall of Fame website:

http://countrymusichalloffame.org/Inductees/InducteeDetail/merle-haggard

 

Summary – Merle Haggard wrote a lot of songs, that had to do with his life experiences, probably more than any other country singer, since Hank Williams did in the 40’s and 50’s. Like Williams he wrote a lot of his music by himself. He wrote songs about what life was like for transplanted Oklahomans, that moved to California and songs about how it was to be hungry. He wrote songs about his time in prison and how it was difficult to be a part of society again, after being released and his songs about patriotism, Okie From Muskogee and Fightin’ Side of Me and songs like Big City and Workin’ Man Blues that told the plight of people working for a living. He is now recording for an obscure record label Epitaph, but it doesn’t mean we have heard the last of Merle Haggard. He showed us all that being in prison isn’t always a bad thing, as he said he was one of those that prison helped and he is a testament, of how someone can change and be successful, even after being in prison.

 

Great Character Actors of the Past: Gale Gordon

 

 

 

Gale Gordon 1906-1995

 

Gale Gordon was February 20, 1906 in New York City, New York as Charles T. Aldrich Jr. He changed his stage name to Gale Gordon, at some point in his career, but never legally changed his name, so he was still Charles T. Aldrich Jr. at the time of his death.

Prolific Radio Actor

Gordon was one of the most prolific radio actors having acted in 1,352 radio programs according to radiogoldindex.com. He was first heard on radio in 1932 and was heard on radio into the 1970’s.

His first regular role on a radio series was when he was heard on Tarzan and the Apes from 1932-1933.

He would begin portraying Flash Gordon on radio on May 4, 1935 and would also be heard on several other radio programs.

The following list of radio shows he was in during a short period of time shows how much in demand he was as a radio actor:

MAY 24, 1948 – CAVALCADE OF AMERICA

MAY 25, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

MAY 26, 1948 – THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE

MAY 27, 1948 – MAXWELL COFFEE HOUSE TIME

MAY 28, 1948 – OLD GOLD TIME

MAY 29, 1948 – MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Movie re-enacted for radio)

JUNE 1, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

Gordon had one day off in an eight day stretch.

1948 would also be the year, that he began being heard on Our Miss Brooks, in which he portrayed the principal Osgood Conklin.

He would also be heard on My Favorite Husband, which also starred Lucille Ball.

Movie Career

Gordon made his first credited movie appearance in 1942 in Here We Go Again. He appeared in the movie version of Our Miss Brooks in 1956.

His movie career flourished in the years from 1958-1961 with seven movie appearances.

He would make his last movie appearance in The ‘Burbs in 1989, after a 21 year absence from the big screen, after he appeared in Speedway.

Television Career

Gale Gordon focused on regular roles on television shows, for the most part during his career.

It is no surprise, that one of his first appearances on television was Lucille Ball’s I Love Lucy in 1952. Ironically, he was offered the role of Fred Mertz on the show, but was already in line to play Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks.

He also appeared in 130 episodes of the television version of Our Miss Brooks, which ran from 1952-1956. I don’t recall this show being in reruns the last few years on any network.

One of his better known roles was as John Wilson in Dennis the Menace, in which he portrayed John Wilson in 44 episodes, after the death of Joseph Kearns, who had played George Wilson.

His association with Lucille Ball was renewed when he appeared in 109 episodes of The Lucy Show from 1963-1968 and then appeared in 109 episodes of Here’s Lucy from 1968-1974.

Lucille Ball would try once more to capture her magic on the small screen, in 1986 with Life of Lucy show that lasted only 13 episodes. This was the last regular role for Gordon on television.

We will never forget Gordon portraying Mr. Theodore Mooney on The Lucy Show. He would become exasperated with the actions of Lucy, which led to many funny situations.

There was no doubt about the respect that Lucille Ball had for Gordon. He appeared in every radio or television series, in which Ball appeared since 1940.

He would make his last television appearance on the New Lassie series in 1991.

Gordon traveled 160 miles one way to appear in the different television series with Ball, which shows the appreciation he had for her help, in obtaining those roles for him.

Addenda

Gale Gordon was married to Virginia Curley from 1937-1995, until the time of her death. She died about a month before Gordon died in the same facility.

He died of lung cancer on June 30,1995 at the age of 89 in Escondido, California.

Among his honors are his enshrinement in the Radio Hall of Fame and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio acting. That seems strange that he wasn’t awarded a star for his work in television.

Summary

Gale Gordon was a perfect foil for Lucille Ball’s comedy and made Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Shows classics, that will endure for many years to come.

His portrayal of blustery Theodore Mooney the bank president will never be forgotten, by those who saw those shows back  then or in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby Rydell Performing Again After Liver, Kidney Transplant

Bobby Rydell

Bobby Rydell was born Robert Louis Ridarelli on April 26, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will be 72 years old tomorrow.

It doesn’t seem possible that 55 years have passed, since he had his first hit song, with the release of Kissin’ Time in 1959.

Before that he had won a talent contest and became a member of the cast of Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club. Whiteman had difficult pronouncing his last name Ridarelli, so changed his last name to Rydell.

He joined the Rocco and the Saints band at the age of 16 and the band also had a soon to be famous trumpet player in Frankie Avalon.

First Million Selling Single

We Got Love, which was his first million selling album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Wild One was his next million selling single and it reached #2 on the charts and it was released in 1960. My personal favorite Bobby Rydell song Volare was also released in 1960 and went to #4 on the charts. Sway also did well for Rydell in 1960 going to #14 on the charts. Swingin’ School also reached the charts in 1960 and peaked at #5.

Sadly, Rydell only had one more Top Ten hit, when he released Forget Him in 1963, which peaked at #4 on the music charts.

His last new song to make the Billboard Hot 100 charts was Diana, which barely made it onto the charts at #98 in 1965.

It has been 49 years, since he had a song that made the Billboard Hot 100.

More recent photo of Bobby Rydell

Failing Health

He had to cancel a 2012 tour to Australian because of health problems. Rydell would have his liver and kidneys replaced in a double organ transplant. The transplant took place at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in July of 2012.

After recovering for six months Rydell performed in a three night engagement in Las Vegas.

With the health problems behind him Rydell has been very active. He has appeared in international concerts, which included a 2014 tour in Australia. He also has appeared as part of a stage act, with fellow Philadelphian rock and rollers Fabian and Frankie Avalon.

Interesting Trivia From IMDB.com

Rydell High School in Grease was named after Rydell.

He was married to his first wife Camille Quattrone Ridarelli from 1968-2003 until the time of her death. He remarried in 2009 to Linda Hoffman.

Started playing drums at the age of six.

The city of Philadelphia named Bobby Rydell Boulevard after him.

He was a victim of the British invasion, as his recording career was never the same after the Beatles hit American shores.

Has Remained Active

Bobby Rydell has remained active after his recording career more or less ended, by hitting the night club circuit and appearing in concert. However, he did appear in the movie Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, at the height of his popularity.

He has appeared in Time-Life infomercial for Malt Shop Memories.

It was sad that his recording career fizzled out at the age of 23, but he was too talented and too young to walk away from the music scene.

When he turns 72 tomorrow he can reflect on a long career in music and has been a fine representative for the city of Philadelphia.

Dick Clark played a part in the success of Bobby Rydell, by having him appear on American Bandstand.

He may have not had the long recording career, of some recording artists, but that has only made his fans treasure, more than ever, those years in the 60’s, when he was making memories for all of us.

 

 

 

 

Perry Como: From Barber To Million Selling Singer

Perry Como 1912-2001

 

Perry Como was born as Pierino Ronald Como on September 18, 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. His parents Pietro and Lucia Como had immigrated from Italy in 1910. Perry was the first of 13 children to be born in America and was the seventh son of a seventh son. Ironically, he would have 13 #1 songs.

He was only 11 when he began his career as a barber and by the age of 14 had his own barber shop. He would receive his first break when offered a job by the Freddy Carlone Orchestra. He had to choose between earning $28 a week with the orchestra or keep drawing the $125 a week he was earning as a barber. His dad talked him into accepting the singing job, since Perry would never know if he would be a success as a singer, until the gave it a try and began traveling with the orchestra in 1933.

His big break would come when bandleader Teddy Weems signed him to sing with his orchestra in 1936.

 

Perry Como early in his career.

 

Como now was in the big money going from $28 a week, with the Freddy Carlone Orchestra, to $50 a week with the Ted Weems Orchestra. Perry almost got fired when with the Weems Orchestra, because the listeners couldn’t understand the words he was singing. He corrected the problem and kept his job. By 1940 he was earning $250 a week.

1942 was a fateful year for Perry who would quit the Ted Weems band and return home to become a barber again. However, before he could negotiate a lease, for his barber shop he was offered a CBS radio program.  He went on the radio program for CBS in 1943. Later that same year he would be offered a recording contract with RCA Records. The relationship would last for 44 years, which is longer than any other major artist.

 

A Perry Como Christmas album that was in my collection at one time.

 

Perry Como was part of a revolutionary broadcast on April 5, 1946, when the Chesterfield Supper Club was broadcast from 20,000 feet in the air. He had to use handheld mike, which became very heavy due to cabin pressure.

Como in Movies and Television

Perry was seen in only five theatrical movies from 1943-1948 and never acted in another movie the last 53 years of his life.

He first appeared in his own television show in Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall from 1950-1966. I can remember Dream Along With Me being his theme song and the Sing to Me Mr. C. part of the show. Another memory of his show was when the singers sang ” We get letters, stacks and stacks of letters.” It would be great to see some of those old shows again if they even still exist.

Perry Como Christmas 1974 Christmas special.

 

Perry’s Christmas specials were a treat during the years they were shown. His Christmas show became as big of a part of Christmas and the Bob Hope Christmas special. He sang Ave Maria on the specials, but never sang it during a live performance, since he said it is a special song that had to be sung at the right time and at the right place.

Some interesting trivia about Perry from IMDB.com:

Perry Como was a short man who was only 5 foot 6.

He sold over 50 million records and was so humble, that he never asked for certification of most of his records that achieved gold record status.

His only marriage was to Roselle Beline, whom he was married to from July 31, 1933 till her death on August 10, 1998.

Was signed to RCA Records from 1943-1988.

He was the godfather of Debby Boone.

This quote by Perry Como signifies his humbleness: I’ve done nothing that I can call exciting. I was a barber. Since then I’ve been a singer. That’s it.

Perry Como died on May 12, 2001 at Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time of his death.

 

Perry Como was reportedly as casual as he appeared on television. However, he did not like wearing sweaters, even though he was seen wearing sweaters on television.

A list of 587 songs recorded by Perry Como:

http://www.whosdatedwho.com/tpx_25003/perry-como/songs

When I think of his song Round and Round I think of hearing it played at roller skating rink and it was the perfect song for roller skating.

His first #1 song was Till The End of Time in 1945 and his last #1 song was And I Love You So in 1973.

The complete list of his songs that charted:

http://musicvf.com/Perry+Como.art

This album has 100 of Perry’s hits at a reasonable price and a great way to augment your Perry Como collection, without buying several albums.

http://www.amazon.com/100-Hits-Legends-Perry-Como/dp/B002LZUNCW/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1395524835&sr=1-4&keywords=perry+como

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Martin – 56 Years of Entertaining

Dean Martin 1917-1995

 

Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio. He didn’t speak English until he was five years old. Then he dropped out of school in 10th grade and delivered bootleg liquor, dealt cards as a blackjack dealer and did some boxing as a welterweight. He made this comment about his boxing ability  “I won all but 11.”[, which was nothing to brag about since he was only in 12 boxing matches.  His boxing name “Kid Crochet” probably didn’t help his boxing career.

Martin sang with the Ernie Kay Orchestra and then was drafted by the Army in 1944 and served in Akron, Ohio. He appeared in his first full length movie in 1949, when he appeared in My Friend Irma.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Lewis is now 88 years old.

 

Dean Martin first team up with Jerry Lewis at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 24, 1946. The first show did not go well and the owner threatened to fire them, if they couldn’t do better in their second act. That is when they came up with the act, where Martin tries to sing a serious song, while Jerry is doing everything possible to distract from his singing. The act went over big and began their run as a team.

They were heard on radio from 1948 to 1953 on the Martin and Lewis Show. The pair would go on to star in movies that seemed to feature Lewis more than Martin, because of his madcap actions on the big screen. Martin was incensed when a Look magazine cover only showed Lewis, since Martin had been cropped out of the photo.

Their association ended ten years exactly, from their first appearance in Atlantic City. Their friendship was really never the same, until Frank Sinatra brought Martin on stage at the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, which was 20 years, after their 1956 breakup. They remained friends, until the death of Martin in 1995.

Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop and Dean Martin who comprised the Rat Pack.

Martin was part of the Rat Pack that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. They would entertain audiences with their mixture of singing and comedy.

He was also active in acting in motion pictures, with his appearances in Young Lions (1957), Rio Bravo (1959) and would appear in Cannoball Run (1981) and Cannonball II (1984).

This was an active time for Martin as he was appearing on stage, recording record albums, appearing in movies and in 1965 he would start appearing on the NBC show Dean Martin’s Comedy Hour, which would remain on the air until 1974. 263 episodes were filmed of the show and hope they can be seen somewhere on a television network 49 years, after the first show debuted on television. Martin also hosted many Dean Martin Celebrity Roast shows in later years.

 

Made Impact As A Singer

 

1958 would see his recording of Return to Me top out at #4 and  Volare peak at #12. It may have been able to climb higher on the charts, but it had been recorded many times, before Martin released his version of Volare.

 

Surprisingly his song You’re Nobody Till Somebody Love You was only #25 on pop chart, but reached #1 on adult contemporary chart. This was the year the Beatles hit America, so that probably had something to do with it.

The year 1967 would see his last two #1 hits, which only went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, when In the Chapel in the Moonlight and In the Misty Moonlight would take the #1 spot.

Dino: The Essential Dean Martin Collection has 30 of his biggest hits and can be found at Amazon.com for one cent, plus shipping if you buy a used copy of the collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Dino-The-Essential-Dean-Martin/dp/tracks/B00021LPIS/ref=dp_tracks_all_1#disc_1

Dean Martin may be one of the most successful school dropouts ever. He became successful as part of the Martin and Lewis comedy act, singing as soloist for big bands, recorded for many years, acted in many blockbuster movies and hosted a successful television show for nine years.

 

 

 

Album Review – Spotlight on Vic Damone – Vic Damone

Released 1995 on Capitol

Spotlight on Vic Damone is the kind of album, that might not seem that special at first. However, after really listening to it you can hear just how good of a singer Damone was and how great the song selections are on this album.

The album starts off with the Cole Porter classic In The Still Of The Night a song which was released in 1937. Damone effortlessly sings this classic and gets the album off to a rousing start. Laura is the kind of song you think of, when thinking about easy listening songs. I first think of Dick Haymes singing Laura on records from the 1940’s, but Damone in my book does an even better job 50 years later on this album.

Shangri-La from 1946 is an easy listening song, that is not recorded as much, as some songs from that era. However, Damone does such a great job on it, that you want to hear it again and again. Close Your Eyes was written 81 years ago in 1933.  You won’t even think of how long ago the song was written, when Damone sings it, since you won’t care how old it is, when you hear his smooth styling.

The next three songs Let’s Sit This One Out, Diane and After the Lights Go Out are not that well-known but Vic Damone’s voice make you like all three songs instantly. Ebb Tide was written in 1953 and Damone had one of the most popular versions of the song. It is a great song that will live on for years.

Is You Or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby) is the most up tempo song on the album. It almost seems out-of-place, since it is so much faster than the other songs on the album. It is the one song on the album, that I wouldn’t have minded seen left off. When most of us think of There! I’ve Said It Again we think of the Bobby Vinton version, but Damone more than holds his own on his version. It was originally recorded by Vaughn Monroe in 1945.

The next four songs Little Girl, Poinciana (Song of the Tree), Change Partners and I Could Write A Book are not songs, that we think of often, but after listening to Damone’s interpretation of the songs we will have an appreciation for all four songs.

The next song is a personal favorite of mine in Ruby. Damone sings it as well, as I have ever heard it sung. The Hawaiian Wedding Song is a special song to me, since I lived in Hawaii for over two-and-a-half-years, so I have heard it sung a lot over the years and Damone’s version makes me feel like I am in Hawaii again.

Let’s Face The Music And Dance is an Irving Berlin classic which is a little up tempo, but Damone is up to the challenge. He ends the album with another slow song Make This A Sad Goodbye. It may be another of the lesser-known songs on the album, but Damone gives it the same attention, as the better-known songs on the album.

Summary: Spotlight on Vic Damone may not have all of his greatest hits, but it gives a sampling that reminds us, why we like Vic Damone so much. This album is a great example of why Frank Sinatra said once, that Vic Damone had the best pipes in the business. This album may not have this effect on other music fans, but for me it made me want to add to my collection of Vic Damone music.

For information purposes only, since I have no financial connection with Amazon: Spotlight on Vic Damone can be bought as an MP3 album for $11.49 for the 18 songs, or can be bought new for $129.89 from an Amazon partner or can be bought used for $1.59 plus $3.99 shipping from an Amazon partner. I bought my copy used and have had no problems.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=spotlight+on+vic+damone&tag=mh0b-20&index=popular&hvadid=2478069250&ref=pd_sl_2npqrfdrwu_ep

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter To Queen Of Country Music

A young Loretta Lynn early in her career

Loretta Lynn was born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Loretta was named after actress Loretta Young.  She was born to coal miner Melvin Webb and his wife Clara Ramey.

She married Oliver Vanetta Lynn at the age of 15 in 1948. They moved to the state of Washington and she began, to sing while living in Washington.  Her sister Crystal Gayle also became a well-known country artist. She was also related on her mother’s side of the family to Patty Loveless.

  • Betty Sue Lynn, birth date: November 26, 1948 died July 29, 2013 (age 64)[5]
  • Jack Benny Lynn, (1949-12-07)December 7, 1949 died July 22, 1984 (age 34)
  • Ernest Ray Lynn, April 12, 1951-
  • Clara Marie Lynn (Cissie), April 7, 1952-
  • Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen Lynn (twins; latter named for Patsy Cline), August 6, 1964

Lynn became a grandmother by the age of only 29 and it is hard to believe, but she will be 82 next month.

Loretta Lynn with the prettiest blue eyes that I remember seeing when talking to her after a concert in Alexandria, Louisiana in the 1960’s.

I was fortunate enough, to see Loretta Lynn in concert at Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, Louisiana when she and Ernest Tubb were a duo. She was very gracious to me, when I asked for her to autograph one of her greatest hits albums. I was struck by her beauty and dazzled by her blue eyes.

This is more about the album that she autographed for me:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynn%27s_Greatest_Hits

Her husband would die in 1996, which was 48 years after their marriage.

Loretta Lynn had this to say about their marriage:  “He never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice”.

The Wilburn Brothers helped her get her a recording contract with Decca Records. However, they also helped themselves, by gaining publishing rights to her material. She fought to have the publishing rights in her name, but when that fail she stopped writing songs in 1970.

Loretta Lynn joined the Grand Ole Opry on September 25, 1962 and has remained a member for the last 52 years.

Loretta Lynn Discography

I’m A Honky Tonk Girl was her debut single in 1960 and it climbed to #14 on the country charts.

Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin (With Loving On Your Mind) would be her first #1 hit I 1966. Fist City would go to #1 in 1968 and Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone) was #1 in 1969.

The 1970’s would see eight more of her songs take the top spot on the country music charts:

1970 – Coal Miner’s Daughter

1971 – One’s On The Way

1972 – Rated X

1973 – Love Is The Foundation

1974 – Trouble In Paradise

1976 – Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)

1976 – She’s Got You

1977 – Out Of My Head And Back In My Bed

She has not had another #1 hit since 1977, which encompasses 37 years.

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Loretta Lynn – Conway Twitty Studio Albums, Singles

Loretta Lynn would team up with Conway Twitty to release 11 studio albums from 1971-1988. Four of the studio albums would be #1 on country charts.

Five of their singles would chart at the #1 position on the Billboard Country charts.

1971 – After The Fire Is Gone

1971 – Lead Me On

1973 – Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man

1974 – As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone

1975 – Feelins

Movie Released

The Coal Miner’s Daughter would be released in 1980 and it told the story of Lynn’s rise to stardom and how she and her husband traveled to radio stations plugging their songs.

Loretta Lynn is 81 today and has been a grandmother for 52 years.

Danny Thomas: Founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

 

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded in 1962 by actor/philanthropist Danny Thomas. He promised St. Jude Thaddeus that he would build a shrine to St. Jude, if he would help him support his family financially.

He was able to amass a fortune and kept his promise and the shrine he built for St. Jude was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which Thomas founded in 1962.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Tennessee suggested, that Thomas build the hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. 52 years later the hospital has played a part in saving the lives of many children, who may have died without the medical care provided at St. Jude.

The Chili’s restaurant chain donated $50 million toward the construction of the Chili’s Care Center in 2007, which added 24 labs and 16 beds to the campus.

Sterling Jewelers opened a lounge area named Kay Kafe. It has become a place where families and staff can relax, when the children were not undergoing treatments.

Marlo Thomas, the daughter of Thomas is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude. His son Tony is also very involved in the administration of St. Jude.

The survival rate of  acute lymphoblastic leukemia has improved from 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today.

Families of the patients only pay what is covered by insurance and no family without insurance is turned down for treatment. Patients are also provided with a place to stay, while the children undergo treatments, to lessen the financial burden for families.

Many corporations like CVS/pharmacy, Dollar General and Kay Jewelers assist in finances for the hospital, in addition to too many others to name them all.

Wikipedia tells about a million dollar winner of the McDonald’s Monopoly game donating their winning card to St Jude:

McDonald’s Monopoly

In 1995, St. Jude received an anonymous letter postmarked in Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning McDonald’s Monopoly game piece. McDonald’s officials came to the hospital, accompanied by a representative from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, who examined the card under a jeweler’s eyepiece, handled it with plastic gloves, and verified it as a winner.[36] Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, McDonald’s waived the rule and has made the annual $50,000 annuity payments, even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme intended to defraud McDonald’s.[37]

 

Danny Thomas
1912-1991
Founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

 

Danny Thomas along with Jerry Lewis are the best known celebrities, who have shared their fortune and time, to help less than fortunate children, who are battling health problems at a time, when they should be out playing, with the other kids in their neighborhood.

Thomas was born as,Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz  in Deerfield, Michigan on January 6, 1912. He would later change his name to Amos Jacobs, then later to Danny Thomas.

He would make his radio debut on March 5, 1944 on the Radio Hall of Fame program. He could be heard in 61 episodes of radio programs from 1944 to 1983.

 

Marlo Thomas

His daughter, Marlo Thomas went on to have her own acting career and was best known for her series That Girl (1966-1971). Actress Loretta Young was the godmother of Marlo, who also became very involved with the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and can be seen on commercials for St. Jude today.

Thomas was a standup comedian and also acted in movies and television. His first movie appearance was in The Unfinished Dance which was released in 1947, when Thomas was 35 years old. He became a major star, his show Make Room For Daddy debuted in 1953 and would be on network television till 1964.

He would make his last appearance as an actor in the Empty Nest in 1991, which was the same year as his death.

Thomas was a producer or executive producer in many well-known television series, which included Andy Griffith, Real McCoys, Joey Bishop Show, Dick Van Dyke, Rango, Guns of Will Sonnett and Mod Squad.

He was a founding minority owner in the Miami Dolphins professional football team.

His only marriage was to Rose Marie Mantell in 1936 and they remained married till his death 55 years later in 1991.

Mary Tyler Moore was chosen by Thomas to co-star in Dick Van Dyke show.

This quote by Thomas personifies the way he lived his life “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

Danny Thomas died of heart failure on February 6, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He and his wife both were buried on the grounds of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Most of us will remember Danny Thomas portraying Danny Williams on the Danny Thomas Show, but his most lasting contribution was the founding, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. There are a lot of children laughing and playing today in their homes, because Danny Thomas cared enough to build a hospital, that treated their cancer and best of all never turned anyone down, because they didn’t have money to pay, after the insurance had paid their portion or had no insurance at all.

If only more of us could leave a legacy like Danny Thomas, who may have died 23 years ago, but his promise to build a shrine, which turned out to be the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has brought hope to families, who had no hope by providing a hospital for their children, where they can be treated for cancer.

Thank you Danny for caring about the children with cancer.

USS Indianapolis Missed By 4 Days Being Torpedoed With Atomic Bomb Aboard

Little Boy atomic bomb facsimile of the bomb which hit Hiroshima.

Little Boy Atomic Bomb (Mk I Series):

Little Boy Atomic Bomb casing
Another Little Boy Atomic Bomb casing can be found at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH

Length: 120 inches Diameter: 28 inches Weight: 8,900lbs Weight of Fissionable Uranium-235: 141lbs, 1.5lbs of which actually fissioned Explosive Yield: 15-16 kilotons Configuration: Gun type heavy uranium bomb Delivery Method: Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay Est. # of Mk 1 Atomic Bombs Produced: 5 Target: Hiroshima, Japan Delivery Date: August 6, 1945 8:15am JSP

This is an empty bomb casing of the Mk I or Little Boy series of atomic bombs. About 5 were produced in the series and when they were deemed obsolete the fissionable Uranium 235 was removed along with the triggering explosives. The casings were then either scrapped or distributed to other museums.

The bomb casing pictured above represents the Little Boy atomic bomb,  that was delivered by the USS Indianapolis on July 26, 1945.

Atomic Bomb Pit #1 and Memorial The No.1 bomb loading pit on Tinian where the atomic bomb, “Little Boy” was stored before being loaded onto the B-29 “Enola              Gay” 44-86292.            This area was heavily guarded and a tent erected over the bomb before this top-secret weapon was loaded onto the bomber, and was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Today, a single coconut palm and a plumeria tree grow in it. Locals have always observed misshapen coconuts on this tree, normal ones have never been produced on this tree. This hole is probably one of the most historically charged remain of the island’s  past.

Atomic Bomb Pit #2         Next to  it is pit “No.2”,  where “Fat Man” atomic bomb was loaded into B-29 “Bockscar”          44-27297 and dropped over Nagasaki. Today,  the two concrete lined pits are filled in with dirt.

Just four days after the Little Boy atomic bomb was delivered, to the Ushi Point Airfield on the island of Tinian the USS Indianapolis was hit by two Japanese torpedoes, which resulted in the ship sinking, in only 12 minutes and it still has not been found to this day.

If the ship had been hit with the atomic bomb aboard it would have almost certainly ended the lives, of every American sailor aboard the ship. The sailors who had to abandon the ship experienced shark attacks, exposure and dehydration before being spotted by a patrol aircraft four days later.

One of the sailors who lived through the experience told of seeing his friends eaten by sharks. He said sharks would dive at them and next thing he knew he would only see blood in the water.

History could have been changed, if the torpedoes would have hit the USS Indianapolis, before it delivered the atomic bomb to the airfield.

On August 6, 1945 the Little Boy atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. 90,000 – 160,000 were killed by the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

President Truman said later, that we were fortunate that Hitler was unsuccessful in developing an atomic bomb.

It will be argued for years, whether it would have been better to fight a ground battle in Japan, which may have taken years or months, or to end the war abruptly with the least loss of American life, by dropping the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Shirley Temple Black Dies At 85

 

 

Shirley Temple 1928-2014

 

America has lost another of our greatest entertainers in Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday night, February 11, in her home near San Francisco at the age of 85. She was preceded in death by her husband Charles Alden Black, who died in 2005. They had been married 55 years at the time of his death.

It has been said that Shirley Temple was the most famous child actor in the history of the movies. Very few would want to argue that point.

She was born Shirley Jane Temple, on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California.

A young Shirley Temple early in her career.

Her first two appearances on-screen was in two shorts in 1932 and her first credited role in a movie was for Red Haired Alibi released in 1932. She appeared in several more shorts and uncredited roles in movies and her scenes in Mandalay in 1934 were deleted. However, before the end of 1934 she would appear in seven more movies in credited roles. Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes were just two of those movies released in 1934.

Temple was also heard on old-time radio in 42 programs.

1935 would see four more Shirley Temple movies released including The Little Colonel and Curly Top. She had appeared in 20 movies by the time she was 7 years old.

By the time 1940 was over Temple had appeared in 34 movies and she was only 12 years old. She then started appearing as a teenager in movies later in the 40’s, including Kiss and Tell and  Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.

Shirley Temple seen in a scene with Cary Grant from Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.

Surprisingly she made her last movie in 1949 at the age of 21, when she appeared in a Kiss For Corliss Archer.

Nine years would pass before she would appear in her own television series Shirley Temple Storybook from 1958-1961. She would make her second and last television appearance on Red Skelton Show in 1963.

By the time of her death last night she hadn’t made a movie in 65 years and hadn’t appeared on television in 51 years.

 

IMDB.com lists some interesting trivia about Shirley Temple:

She was 5 foot 2.

1935-1938 were the years of her peak popularity. She was box office champion during those years, topping more famous adult actors and actresses like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.

By 1939 her popularity had declined.

She married actor John Agar at the age of 17 and the marriage lasted from 1945-1950. They were divorced on December 7, 1950.

Shirley Temple Black shown with her husband Charles Alden Black.

Nine days later she would marry Charles Alden Black, to whom she remained married to, for 55 years until his death in 2005 from bone marrow disease at the age of 86.

Ironically her new husband had never seen any of her movies.

She may have been Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, but 20th Century Fox refused to lend her to MGM to make the movie.

Shirley Jones and Shirley MacLaine were both named after Shirley Temple.

Would serve as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.

Was on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Her new contract from 20th Century Fox in 1936 paid her $50,000 per film.

A cocktail named after her became known as the Shirley Temple cocktail. It consisted of Ginger Ale or 7-Up, Grenadine and orange juice topped with a Maraschino cherry and a slice of lemon. Temple said she didn’t like the drink.

Gary Cooper asked for Shirley Temple’s autograph, when he met her in 1934.

She made an attempt at political office: In 1967 she ran against Paul McCloskey in the Republican primary for California’s 11th Congressional District. McCloskey won with 52,878 votes to her 34,521. One of the newspaper headlines read: “McCloskey Torpedoes Good Ship Lollypop”.

Some of her other political appointment jobs:

U.S. Chief of Protocol

      U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia
      Delegate to the United Nations
She acted in the movies while the country was in a depression and has this to say about that:
I class myself with Rin Tin Tin. People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog and a little girl.
Shirley Temple brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people during her 17 year movie career and she went on to serve our country as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and as a delegate to the United Nations.
Her acting career may have ended over 50 years ago, but her movies will live on in the hearts, of those who have seen them and will continue to see them, as they are handed down from generation to generation.
I suspect a lot of DVD and VCR players will be playing Shirley Temple movies today and tonight, as we remember the little girl in the movies, who cheered up a country deep in depression so many years ago.
RIP Shirley Temple

For those who want to see a list of all the Shirley Temple movies:

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000073/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm

 

 

 

 

Classic Instrumentalists: The Ventures

The Ventures 1958- present

 

The Ventures were originally formed as the Versatones in 1958, but changed their name to the The Ventures in 1959. Don Wilson on rhythm guitar is the only surviving member of the group and has remained with the group, during their entire 56 year run.

What really sets the The Ventures apart is that they have sold 110 million albums, which is the most sold by any rock instrumental group.  My favorite song recorded by The Ventures is their 30th anniversary recording of Wipeout on their Super Sessions  with their drummer Mel Taylor and guest drummer Max Weinberg being featured. I can’t recall ever hearing any two drummers sounding better on one recording.

You may want to watch this video of Mel Taylor of The Ventures and guest drummer Max Weinberg having their own battle of the drums:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea843FEdAIU&list=PL7F416D97B1AB2DDB

Wipeout is a must in any collection of songs by the Ventures, along with Pipeline, Tequila, Walk Don’t Run and many more of their best known hits. They have a unique sound that can be detected easily.

The Ventures have played a lot of covers of hits, by other groups but when they adapt the songs, to their own style they sound as good or better than the original recording.

George Harrison of the Beatles says he liked the instrumental sound of The Ventures more than the sound of any British groups.

The Ventures play Pipeline on this video from their 30th Anniversary Super Sessions DVD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nth5gRyJF28

The Ventures have been very popular in Japan in recent years having sold 40 million albums over there.

It is a testament to their sound, that they have been popular for 56 years and one of the few groups from the 50’s, whose recordings have stretched over seven decades.

So next time you visit a thrift store with old records you might get lucky and found a vinyl or CD of The Ventures, that will bring back memories of the past.

There have been a lot of groups known as surf groups, but to me The Ventures stand out as the best of all the groups.

 

Classic Television: Real McCoys 1957-1963

The Real McCoys debuted on television on October 3, 1957. The show ended its run on network television on June 23, 1963. It has been 51 years since the last show aired on a major network.
I have been watching it in the last week on Cozi Network at 5PM Central time and have enjoyed watching the show again, after not seeing it for at least 30 years, if not longer than that.
The show centers around the McCoy family, who had traveled from Virginia to settle down in California. Walter Brennan, who has one of the most recognizable voices on radio and television plays Grandpa Amos McCoy. He plays the part of an old codger set in his ways. He can neither read or write, which provides many storylines in the series.
Richard Crenna is Luke McCoy the son of Grandpa and his wife Kate McCoy is portrayed by Kathy Nolan. Their two children Little Luke and Hassie are played by Michael Winkleman and Lydia Reed respectively. Their farmhand Pepino is portrayed by Tony Martinez.
Walter Brennan 1894-1974
Walter Brennan was heard on 35 old-time radio programs, according to radiogoldindex.com, while Richard Crenna was heard frequently on both Our Miss Brooks and the Great Gildersleeve programs.
Brennan made his first movie appearance in 1925 in Lorraine of the Lions, but it was an uncredited role. He was uncredited in eight of his first nine movies. Brennan was seen in 27 movies before 1930 and would appear in 19 movies in 1932 alone. One of the highlights of his movie career was when he appeared in Pride of the Yankees in 1992.
After Real McCoys left the air he starred in two other television programs, which included appearing in 30 episodes of The Tycoon and 50 episodes of Guns of Will Sonnett. He made his last movie appearance at the age of 80 in the movie Smoke in the Wind which was released in 1975.
Brennan made an amazing 242 appearances on television and in the movies.
Richard Crenna 1926-2003
Richard Crenna was a veteran of old time radio, television and the movies. He made his first radio appearance in 1945 in an episode of Great Gildersleeve and first was heard on Our Miss Brooks radio program in 1948. He also appeared in  the television version, of the show and played high school student Walter Denton in both versions.
His career spanned 58 years from 1945 to 2003, when he made his last appearance in the television movie Out of the Ashes. He appeared as the star of Slattery’s People, which debuted in 1964 the year after after Real McCoys left the air, but the show only lasted one season.
Crenna is well-known for portraying Col. Sam Trautman in both Rambo: First Blood Part 2  in 1982 and in Rambo III in 1988.
Real McCoys is 1950’s television at its best. The shows would often show the ornery side of Grandpa Amos, in the first part of the show, but by the time the show ended he had mellowed and the family was happy again.
Yesterday’s episode featured Grandpa Amos letting a man promoting a gambling place in Las Vegas paint his barn. Only catch was that the man would put up a sign on the roof of the barn. However, Grandpa Amos had no idea that the barn would be promoting gambling in Las Vegas, so consented to letting the barn be painted.
The pastor visited their home, so they covered up the offending part of the sign to have it read better. Then the wind kicked up and the canvas uncovered the sign, so that the pastor could see they had a sign on the roof promoting gambling, but the pastor wasn’t upset saying they had painted his barn for free too and had made a sign he didn’t like either.
Real McCoys for some reason has not been seen much, since it left the air 51 years ago, so was tickled to see it on MeTV last week.

Doris Day Will Be 93 In April

Doris Day made her motion picture debut 69 years ago in 1948 in Romance on the High Seas at the age of 24.

 

Doris Day may be one of the most likeable motion picture and television actresses, that has graced the silver screen. However, she was first known as a singer, as she sang with the Bob Crosby and Les Brown bands. One of her first hit songs was Sentimental Journey.

She was born as Doris Mary Anne Von Kappelhoff  on April 3, 1924 in Evanston, Ohio and will be 93 this year. She would later change her name to Day, with her name coming from her song Day by Day.

Her career included 99 old-time radio shows, which included appearances on the Bob Hope Show and her own radio show.

Doris Day Golden Girl: Columbia Collection from 1944-1966.

 

I have the Golden Girl: Columbia Collection 1944-1966 in my compact disc collection. 27 Amazon reviewers give the album 5 stars, while only one gives it one star and no reviewer gives the album no stars. The album is on two discs with a total of 48 songs in the album.

Her rendition of It Had To Be You alone makes the album worthwhile. Again is another one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is good to hear music, that you can understand the words, as you listen to the album. She also sings the classic I Only Have Eyes For You. I listened to the entire album last week and was mesmerized to hear Doris Day at her best.

Amazon.com has short clips of all 48 songs and the album can be bought used for as little as 30 cents as of January 2, 2017.

Day married trombonist Al Jorden in 1941 and their divorce became final in 1943. Her only child Terry was born during this marriage. Her next marriage to saxophonist George Weidler was in 1946 and that marriage was over by 1949.

Then two years later she married Martin Melcher her agent, who later became her husband in 1951. Melcher produced many of her movies from 1956-1968. Melcher died at the age of 52 in 1968.

It was after his death, that she learned he had gone through her $20 million fortune and leaving her in debt. She may have been even deeper in debt, if not for his death. His business partner Jerome Rosenthal was sued by Doris Day for his financial dealings that burned through her fortune. Day has stated that she didn’t think her husband realized what Rosenthal was doing. She was awarded $22 million in damages in 1974.

Day found out after the death of Martin Melcher, that he had her lined up to do a television series and a couple of special shows. She still completed her obligation in the contract and she never acted again after the Doris Day Show ended in 1973. It has been 41 years since she last acted on television or on the screen.

Between the income from the television shows and her financial settlement there was no reason, for Day to ever act again. She did appear in some shows which didn’t involve acting.

Her son Terry Melcher, who had been adopted by her husband Martin Melcher was a successful record producer. He was introduced to Charles Manson by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Melcher was considering signing Manson to a recording contract but never signed Manson, which angered Manson. He did use two songs penned by Manson with the Beach Boys singing those songs.

Melcher was living with his girlfriend Candice Bergen at 10050 Cielo Drive house he was renting. Melcher and Bergen moved out of the house after Melcher and Manson had parted ways. Manson went to the house asking to see Melcher, but by then Melcher had moved.

It was on August 9, 1969 that members of the Manson family entered the home and murdered Sharon Tate, who was the wife of Polanski was eight months pregnant. Four others were murdered in the house including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairdresser Jay Sebring.

There has been much speculation about whether Manson knew Melcher was no longer living in the house. One thing for certain is that if he wanted to get Melcher’s attention, then he was so successful, that Melcher hired a bodyguard.

Doris Day had lost her husband one year before and now her only son was apparently being targeted by Charles Manson.

Some trivia about Doris Day from imdb.com:

Did not like swear words and required anyone using a swear word to put a quarter in the “Swear Jar”.  She would not even allow her songs to be used in movies, in which there was swearing.

Her mother named her after her favorite silent film star, Doris Kenyon. By coincidence, in the mid 1970’s when Day wrote her autobiography, Kenyon was her neighbor on Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills.

Son Terry Melcher was born February 8, 1942. She named him after the character in a comic strip she loved as a little girl, “Terry and the Pirates”. Sadly, he passed away of cancer on November 19, 2004.

Was a two-and-a-half pack a day smoker until about 1951.

She has two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6278 Hollywood Boulevard and for Motion Pictures at 6735 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

In 1976, Doris married Barry Comden, 12 years her junior. They met at the Beverly Hills Old World Restaurant where he was the maitre d’. In the 1970s, Comden opened an Old World restaurant in Westwood and supervised the construction of another restaurant, Tony Roma’s, in Palm Springs. It was Comden who came up with the idea for a line of pet food that would feature Doris’ name. Doris Day Distributing Co. unraveled mainly because of a pyramid-type scheme that the couple had been unaware of. They lived in Carmel but Comden complained that Day preferred the company of her dogs more than him and they divorced in 1981.

Underwent a hysterectomy during the filming of Julie (1956) after being diagnosed with a tumour the size of a grapefruit that was growing into her intestines.

Some quotes attributed to Doris Day:

I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile and I want to make people laugh. And that’s all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.

[on Rock Hudson] I call him Ernie, because he’s certainly no Rock

[about Elizabeth Taylor‘s diamonds] When I see Liz Taylor with those Harry Winston boulders hanging from her neck I get nauseated. Not figuratively, but nauseated! All I can think of are how many dog shelters those diamonds could buy.

      [dismissing allegations that she “stole” husband Martin Melcher from his former wife, singer Patty Andrews] A person does not leave a good marriage for someone else.

 

Doris Day at the age of 89 is still involved with protecting animals from abuse. She may not have acted in the last 41 years, but her legacy of films in her 25 years of acting will keep us entertained for years to come. It is sad that her television show is seldom seen in reruns, but it can be seen on DVD. It might even be the best way to watch the show, as the show was known for its many season to season changes in its five-year run. In addition she has recorded many albums during her recording career.

I watched Move Over Darling last week, in which James Garner appeared with Doris Day. It was a hilarious movie, in which a husband is marrying a new bride, after his wife who “died” in a plane crash five years before and was now legally dead. Only problem was that she was rescued and comes back home to find her husband married to another woman. Chaos ensues as she and the character played by James Garner try to get back together again.

 

 

 

 

Vinyl Records Refuse To Die

A 45 vinyl single of the Beatle’s song I Feel Fine.

 

The first flat disc record was invented by Emil Berliner in 1888. 125 years later the technology may have improved, but vinyl records have survived, because vinyl fans continue to buy and play vinyl records today.

Singers are still making vinyl records today. The late Johnny Cash has a vinyl album American IV: the Man Comes Around, that will be released on February 4, 2014. The vinyl version is advertised for $33.89, while the audio CD is being sold for only $8.49.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album High Hopes will be released on January 14, 2014 and it will be released on vinyl for $29.46, while the audio CD will be sold for $15.99. Meanwhile the Beatles are releasing Live at the BBC, which will be sold for $49.99 on vinyl, but consists of three vinyl records, while at the present time no CD version is being released.

Vinyl was first used in 1948, after shellac had been used in the early years of record production. So vinyl records have been around now for 65 years and going strong. 1949 would bring music fans the 45 single records, which usually had one song on each side, which were sometimes called the A and B side.

 

This was one of my first vinyl record albums bought in 1967. I still have that same record album 45 years later.

 

The  popularity of vinyl records waned, after the invention of eight tracks, cassettes and compact discs. This was about the time, that I decided to sell my vinyl albums for a quarter each. At that price my collection of about 100 records was gone in a couple of days.

The Electro Brand phonograph which we currently own.

 

The Electro Brand phonograph has served us well, since my wife bought it for me in 2009. It doesn’t play cassettes or record, but it plays records and we can listen to the radio and can plug the MP3 player into the back and hear the old-time radio shows and music, that had been downloaded into the MP3 player.

 

We no longer had a record player, so decided to sell them, which was a huge mistake. One of my sisters found my Frank Sinatra album (pictured above) and returned it to me, about three or four years ago. My wife surprised me by buying me a $45 record player at Big Lots. Then a local book store in Knoxville, Tennessee had tons of vinyl albums for only a quarter each. Sometimes I would splurge and buy 10 albums at a time for a total of $2.50.

It didn’t take long to find that there were very few southern gospel or country music albums, among the vinyl records for sale. I found loads of Johnny Mathis albums in the bargain bin, along with the music of many orchestras. So I bought some Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Harry James, Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk albums.

So now my record collection is up to about 30 albums. It is great hearing Christmas music emanating from a record player.

 

This is one of many record players for sale today, that have a retro look.

 

You can buy a basic record player today, or you can buy the models, that not only play vinyl records, but have the ability to copy the music from the vinyl onto a CD. Some players also record from the radio and from cassettes. Some players also have docks for I-Pods or a connection for MP3 players. So those players are capable of playing the radio, records, compact discs, cassettes and the music from a MP3 player.

 

There is little chance of being stuck with vinyl records again, since so many manufacturers are not only making the vinyl records, but also are making the record players to play them on.

 

For instance, Amazon.com has a total of 1,338,799 vinyl records for sale as of today. Ebay.com has even more records listed with 3,857,050 vinyl records for sale. That is a total of over 5 million vinyl records for sale combined at amazon.com and Ebay.com. Over 493,000 of the vinyl records at sale at Ebay.com are new.

 

Remember Jimmy features Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell and the great Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

 

I bought the Jimmy Dorsey album Remember Jimmy pictured above at a thrift store in Sulphur, Louisiana for $2.98. That same album is being sold on ebay.com today for $40.49.  The main reason I bought the album was because it included the classic song Tangerine, which was one of my all time favorite big band songs.

Helen O’Connell later would be known for being the host of the Today show.

 

It looks as if vinyl records will be with us for a long time to come. Ebay.com lists a 1982 John Cougar album for only 99 cents. Not bad for a 31-year-old vinyl record. The most expensive album for sale, at Ebay is a $125,000 Michael Jackson album that is autographed and is ultra rare, according to the description. 91 offers have been made for the album, but none have been accepted yet. It is listed at $125,000 or best offer. The album is the first album released by Michael Jackson and titled You Got To Be There.

 

Technology has changed over the years, but we can still hear music, from a phonograph 136 years, after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, which was only 12 years after the Civil War ended.

 

 

Technology – Yesterday and Today

My grandpa who lived on a farm in Allendale, Missouri had a radio similar to this one and I listened to some Kansas City Athletics games on his radio console and will never forget how good the sound was, that emanated from that radio.
Phonograph records have never really went away completely. Now many manufacturers are building modern versions of the record players we grew up. Those being built today play records, CD’s, cassettes and even have an input, for MP3 players to play their music over the phonograph system.  Some record companies are still making vinyl records. Just went to eBay and found that there are 1,328,915 records for sale, so there will be a need for record players for years to come. Surprisingly, over 489,000 of those albums are new.  I was fortunate about three or four years ago, to find a bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee selling record albums for 25 cents each. You can build up a collection fast at those prices since $10 buys 40 record albums.
Eight track players technology went right on by me, since I went straight from vinyl to cassettes. I never owned an eight track player or eight track tape. Not sure if eight track players are still being made today. If they are I have not heard about it.
Compact disc players can be found in portable CD players, CD boomboxes, CD shelf systems and some CD players today can be found in phonograph combos, that play CD’s, cassettes, records and have a AM-FM radio, plus either have a dock for an I-pod or a line in for a MP3 player. Some even have the capability of recording from a record, cassette or radio to a CD.
This Ipod Classic 160 GB player is the ultimate player, for those who like to record music, videos and store photos. This player can record 40,000 songs, which is equivalent to having 4,000 albums, with 10 songs each stored in this player. However, if you want to store videos and photos, then that would reduce the storage place for music. Who has 4,000 albums anyway? This player may not have all the bells and whistles, of an iPod Touch, but an iPod Touch is not going to have near the capacity of this player. One drawback to the 160 GB version is that the screen is only 2.5 inches, which is small, compared to the newest IPod Touch, which has a 4 inch screen.
Technology has come a long way from the phonographs of the early days, to machines that can hold 40,000 songs and play any song, almost instantaneously, after going through the folders to find the song you want to play or you can watch videos of movies and TV shows.
This is a Maytag ringer washing machine. There may be still be people using these machines, but they have to be few and far between, with the technology today, that lets the operator turn the machine on and put some soap in the machine and leave it to wash the clothes and come back an hour later or so and put those clothes into a dryer.
When is the last time you have seen bottles of milk, on your porch when door to door delivery of milk was popular? I remember when our milkman had only a four number telephone number on his truck.
When is the last time you saw someone actually typing on a typewriter like this Underwood Typewriter? There are probably some holdouts still using typewriters like this, but there can’t be a whole lot of them.
I can still remember the days of the nickel coke. The bottles may have been only 6 ounces, but today you spend at least $1.50 most places for 20 ounces of Coca-Cola. Back in the old days you could buy 24 ounces for only 20 cents. A $1.50 back then would buy 30 bottles of 6 ounce Cokes. So if I am figuring right, then that comes out to 180 ounces of Coca-Cola, which would be equivalent to about three 2 liter Coca-Colas today. Not many stores today sell three liters of original Coca-Cola for $1.50. Today it is usually cheaper to buy a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola for a $1-$1.25 or more, than to spend $1.50 or more on a 20 ounce Coca-Cola.

Timeline for Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy arriving at Love Field in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

 

 

 

President John F.Kennedy riding in motorcade with Jacqueline Kennedy and Governor John Connally moments before the president and governor were both shot.

 

 

 

Jacqueline Kennedy crawling on the back of the limousine after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas on Friday, November 22, 1963..

 

It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Friday, November 22, 1963. It is ironic that November 22 of 2013 also fell on a Friday.

My day started like any other day at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I was subbing for the regular company postal clerk, who had taken leave to New York. I happened to have my transistor radio playing that morning, when I heard a news flash saying that President Kennedy had been shot. I immediately told the commanding officer and then shortly after heard that President Kennedy was dead.

Air Force One touched down at Love Field in Dallas at 11:40 PM CST and President Kennedy and his wife Jackie were greeted enthusiastically at the airport. The motorcade cars were lined up at the airport, but the motorcade started late because of the late arrival of Air Force One.

President Kennedy was slated to make a speech at the Dallas Trade Mart at 12:15 PM, but the motorcade didn’t enter Dealey Plaza till 12:29 PM.  The first shot hit President Kennedy at 12:30 PM and chaos ensued in Dealey Plaza as those there to see the motorcade ran to safety or fell to the ground to protect their children from the gunfire.

Jacqueline Kennedy started crawling on the back of the limousine, after literally holding her husband’s brains in her hands.

Governor Connally was also seriously wounded, by what some would say was the same bullet that hit President Kennedy. The bullet entered Connally’s back, hit his ribs and exited through his chest and his right arm’s wrist bone was shattered into seven parts, plus he had an entry wound in his left thigh.

James Tague, a bystander was hit by a ricocheting fragment of a bullet in the right cheek.

12:33 PM -Lee Harvey Oswald, who was later charged with the assassination of President Kennedy was seen in the second floor lunchroom about 90 seconds after the shots were fired, from the sixth floor window, of the Texas School Book Building. Oswald was questioned by Dallas motorcycle policeman Marion Baker,in the lunchroom and said Oswald showed no sign of being under duress or breathing heavily.

1236 PM – The first national network to broadcast the news of the assassination was ABC radio. when Don Gardiner announced, that three shots had been fired at the presidential motorcade.

12:38 PM – The presidential limousine bearing President Kennedy arrives at Parkland Hospital. We can only imagine the chaos there, as the physicians and nurses scrambled, to see if they could save the life of the president.

12:40 PM – CBS is the first television network to report the assassination.

1:00 PM – Lee Harvey Oswald arrived at his boarding room and left again soon after.

1:00 PM – President Kennedy was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital and spokesman said that there was never a chance of saving his life.

1:15 PM – Officer J.D. Tippit is gunned down by Lee Harvey Oswald, according to witnesses at the scene, which was only 0.86 miles from Oswald’s boarding room.

1:33 PM – White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff makes the official announcement of the death of President Kennedy.

1:35 PM – Johnny Brewer, the manager of a shoe stores sees Lee Harvey Oswald heading toward the Texas Theater.

1:40 PM – Brewer notices that Oswald entered theater, without paying and notified Julie Postal the clerk, who then called the Dallas police.

1:50 PM – Oswald is arrested by Dallas police, after attempting to shoot a policeman and punching one inside the Texas Theater.

2:00 PM – The body of President Kennedy is driven to Air Force One after a confrontation, between Secret Service agents and Dallas authorities, who wanted to perform an autopsy, before releasing the body of President Kennedy.

2:38 PM – Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in by Sarah T. Hughes,as the 36th President of the United States aboard Air Force One.

500 PM – Air Force One arrives at Andrew Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., with the body of President Kennedy and with President Johnson as the new president.

7:05 PM – Lee Harvey Oswald is charged with the murder of Officer J.D.Tippit.

11:26 PM – Lee Harvey Oswald is charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

That ended a day in which President Kennedy was assassinated and Governor Connally was seriously wounded, James Tague a bystander was injured and Officer J.D. Tippit was murdered.

A day which had started out so well with the adoring crowds welcoming President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline ended in tragedy. The day was to have ended with the noon speech at the Trade Mart, a speech in Austin and a weekend with Vice President Johnson at his ranch. Instead the day ended with President Johnson in the White House and the Kennedy presidency had come to an end.

Marilyn Monroe Could Have Saved JFK’s Life

It was only 15 months before when Marilyn Monroe threatened to expose the Kennedys. She was planning to expose the Kennedys and tell of the philandering ways of both President Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

If she hadn’t found dead due to an overdose of pills she would have told, of the philandering ways of President Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy.

If she had been allowed to tell the truth,about the Kennedy brothers there would have been no Dallas visit by President Kennedy, who almost certainly would have been removed from office and no presidential campaign in 1968 by brother Bobby,who also would have been out of politics, as early as 1962 or 1963.

However, Marilyn Monroe died a mysterious death and her death may have kept the Kennedy brothers secrets safe from political death, but in the end may have cost both of them their lives.

Jackie’s Pink Suit

The pink suit that Jackie Kennedy wore during the assassination won’t be seen by the public, for another 90 years and by the time it is seen it will be 140 years after the assassination. By 2103, when it is made public there will be few that lived in the 1900’s that will still be around to see it.

More importantly it is time to release all records, that have anything to do with the Kennedy assassination. 50 years is long enough to hold onto the assassination documents, since most people who were 50 in 1963 would now be 100, if they are fortunate enough to be alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MP3 Players Popularity Waning

Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 40 GB MP3 Player.

 

It was 2004, when I bought my first powerful MP3 player. It was a Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 40 GB MP3 player that held 10,000 songs. It was much clunkier, than the lighter MP3 players of today.

Have never had a smart phone and don’t have any kind of cell phone today. I would rather use my MP3 players for music, than a cell phone. I doubt that they can hold much music, since smart phones also have cameras to take photos and some phones are capable of taking video.

The best thing about the Creative Nomad MP3 player is that it is used exclusively to play music and in my case, also able to play back old-time radio shows of the past. I even have a 1934 baseball game, between the Yankees and Tigers in the player.

That player no longer works, but may only need a new battery, which when I last checked was about $12. Best thing is that it has a removable battery, unlike most MP3 players, which have built-in batteries.

Another feature is that I could delete radio shows, after listening them from the player itself and not have to remove them using a computer.

Sony NWZ 545 16 GB MP3 Player.

 

The above photo is of my next MP3 player bought about four years ago. It is a Sony NWZ 545 16 GB player that can hold far less music, than the Creative Nomad Jukebox could hold. Unlike the Creative player, I have to be careful to pick and choose what songs to download to it, since it would fill up much faster.

It too lets me listen to old-time radio shows. I usually download a few shows at a time. Then I have to go to the computer to delete shows, that I have already heard.

The best thing about the MP3 players is that they don’t have to have a wi-fi connection to play the music. We have made a lot of trips to VA hospitals in Alexandria, LA and Houston, TX and listening to old-time radio shows and music make the long trips a little more bearable.

Apple iPod Nano 8 GB 6th Generation

 

While recuperating at home from cancer surgery my sister from Colorado sent me a gift of a Apple iPod Nano, which only weighs a pound  and is 5×5 inches. The earphones that come with the Nano have a great sound and you really can hear the stereo affect from the song being played.

My sister also sent a speaker that doesn’t come with the Nano. It is not a huge speaker, but it pumps out a lot of sound, without being overly loud.

Not Much Mention of MP3 Players

I have noticed that you don’t hear much mention of MP3 players online. If you go to the tech section of an online sight there will be little or no mention of MP3 players. Most of the articles are about the latest cell phones coming out.

Apple has had two huge events announcing new products, but no mention was made of new iPods being released in the near future.

Personally, I hope there will be a market for MP3 players for years to come. Not everyone wants a MP3 player in their cell phone. I like MP3 players better as standalone products, rather than incorporating them into other electronic devices.

Another thing I have noticed is that most of the MP3 players being released today are 8 GB and 16 GB players, while the players with 32 GB and 64 GB are less common, than they were in the past.

The Apple iPod Classic 160 GB

 

The Apple iPod Classic 160 GB player is the Cadillac of MP3 players, for those who like to record a lot of music. The player has the capacity to store 40,000 songs, 25,000 photos and 200 hours of video.

The player has 1,133 five-star reviews at amazon.com, while only 141 reviewers give it a one star rating. A selling point for the player is that the battery can play for up to 36 hours.

Most users of the Classic will be hard pressed to fill up this player with 40,000 songs, which is equivalent to having 4,000 albums with 10 songs each. Of course the capacity depends on how many photos and videos are downloaded into the Classic.

There are rumors that the Classic may be discontinued in the near future. I think it should remain in production, for those fans who could store only a fraction of 40,000 songs in a cell phone.

We could see the popularity of MP3 players continue to decrease in 2014. The fact that MP3 players are seldom even being mentioned today tells me, that someday they could become another extinct electronic device that disappears from the landscape like reel to reel tape players and eight track players. Very few new cassette players are being made today, except with phonographs and we should have vinyl records for a long time, since we have seen a resurgence in their popularity.

 

Pineville, Louisiana in the 50’s and 60’s

Entrance to Louisiana College campus in Pineville, Louisiana.

 

I was born in 1944 in West Lafayette, Indiana and moved to Pineville, Louisiana, before my 2nd birthday in 1946, so my dad could teach chemistry at Louisiana College.

My first memory of Pineville was starting the first grade at Pineville Elementary in 1950 and walking the mile to school. I did ride the bus in the second grade, until the day I didn’t get off, at my stop and wound up in Libuse, Louisiana, which was about a ten-mile walk back home. Needless to say I never rode a bus to school after that incident. The bus driver was Harold Price, who drove a school bus many years.

I remember being in the class of Mrs. Eva Price, if I recall her first name right. One of my best friends in first grade was Robert Cavanaugh, who would later run track for Pineville High School and LSU. Then later Dr. Cavanaugh would become the chancellor of LSU in Alexandria and was responsible for it becoming a four-year college.

One thing I remember about the first grade is the ten-cent lunches. The price has probably gone up to 15 cents some 63 years later.

The second grade through fourth grade years sort of ran together, with no standout memories from those years. I do remember my second grade teacher being Mrs. Frankie Reed, third grade teacher being Mrs. Clarice Ellis and fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Effie O’Neal.

My fifth grade teacher was Mrs.Mabel  Powell and my main memory of that year was that I played my first Little League game the last day of school. I played for Bates Insurance Co. team that year and made a shoestring catch in that first game off of a ball hit by Luther Richardson. Think I was more surprised, than  anyone else that I caught the ball.

Mrs. Scivique (sp) was my sixth grade teacher if I remember right, but can’t remember her first name. Grady Harper was my seventh grade teacher and I think Robert Cespiva was my eighth grade teacher, but not sure of that.

1957 was a year that stood out, since that was the year Hurricane Audrey hit the Pineville area that June. I can remember Jim Gaines of KALB radio giving the latest reports about the hurricane. One memory is that we had no power for three days and my dad went to Jimmie Hoyt’s to buy some dry ice.

1957 Trip To Maine

My most vivid memory of 1957 didn’t take place in Pineville, since my dad and my older brother took a trip to Maine that summer. The trip was an education in itself, as we stopped at tourist stops like Rock City and can remember the signs saying SEE ROCK CITY on the roofs of barns along the way. We also saw many Burma Shave signs on the trip.

Stopping at Mount Vernon was one of the highlights, while  Washington, D.C. was the place that I remember best. We went inside the Capitol building and saw Congress in action, saw the U.S. Mint making bills and visited the National Archive building. We also visited the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Institution was particularly interesting, where we saw the Spirit of St. Louis hanging from the ceiling. The last place I remember seeing was the Library of Congress.

Having been an avid baseball fan it was a thrill to see a major league game in Connie Mack Stadium, which was my first game to ever see. Saw future Hall of Famers like Roberto Clemente and Richie Ashburn in the game that, plus another Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that landed on tin roof above us in left field bleachers.

We also went to the planetarium in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell.

New York City was a place I will never forget and have not been there in the last 56 years. The main thing I can remember is seeing drunks lying on sidewalk in the Bowery District. That is something a 12 year-old kid always remembers.

We drove on to Beverly, Massachusetts, which was our next destination, since my Dad was there for the American Chemical Society convention there. I remember stopping at a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant with the famous orange roof and was impressed that they had 31 flavors of ice cream.

While in the area we were able to see the House of Seven Gables and Cape Cod.

The convention dealt with such topics as radiocarbon dating of trees and many other topics, that a 12 year-old would never comprehend.

Then we went on to Maine to see my Uncle John for the first time and I think the only time. It would be the only time to see my Maine relatives, since my cousin Jim would die in Vietnam in the 60’s, while piloting a helicopter and was shot down.

We stopped in Millville, New Jersey to pick up my Dad’s mom and while there saw my Grandpa Godfrey for the first and only time, while he was in the hospital. That reminds me of the times pranksters would call his grocery store and ask if he had Prince Albert in cans and then when he said yes, they would say then let him out.

The first and only stop on the way back home was Warsaw, Kentucky and Dad drove almost non-stop from there to Pineville, since school started the same day we got back home.

Random Memories

I don’t remember this but my mom told me I had gotten out of the A&P Grocery store at the age of three and walked down to the Murray Street Bridge. George Huffman a Pineville policeman, according to my mom said when he took me off the bridge that he was going to put me in jail, if it ever happened again. I probably didn’t even know what a jail was at that time, since we wouldn’t even have a television till six years later.

We didn’t have a television till I was about 9 years old and the only reason we got one was because, of my sister’s eye doctor prescribed it for her, so she could use both eyes and we had a polaroid screen on one side to make her use her “lazy” eye.

Being on Cactus Jack with Jack McCall hosting the show on KALB TV was one of my memories from this period and being in the Cub Scouts was another and I can remember riding in the Alexandria Christmas Parade one year.

George Huffman was part of another memory, when we thought our cat may have had rabies, so he tried to shoot at it with a shotgun under the house, but missed and the cat lived happily ever after.

My folks liked to go to Berwick’s Drug Store in downtown Pineville. The dilapidated building was not like Walgreen’s stores of today, but they must have had good prices on prescriptions.

Plane Crashes During Little League Game

One night we were playing a Little League game at Sandy Canyon, when I heard someone say “That plane’s going to crash” and we could see the plane heading downward and it landed near the Memorial Cemetery for veterans about a block from Main Street in downtown Pineville.

Pineville Elementary Burns Down

Pineville Elementary burned down shortly after I finished the eighth grade. This photo shows the firemen battling the blaze:

The story as it appeared in the Alexandria Daily Town Talk the next day:

Will never forget riding the mile from home to the fire that night. News traveled fast back then, even without any media coverage to speak of.

Fast Thinking Commercial Spokesman

Will never forget Larry McHale of KALB TV, who was ordinarily a newsman, but was advertising the virtues of a certain brand of cigarettes. Then in the middle of the commercial he starts coughing and thinking fast said “Just the thinking of those other brands makes me cough”.

Daredevil Over Red River

One memory that stands out is when a motorcyclist ran across the Red River on a some kind of contraption, that enabled him to ride a motorcycle. Anyone there that day is welcome to give their version of what happened that day.

College Drive Baptist Church Founded in 1947

Think we were living on Lawrence Boulevard, when College Drive Baptist Church was founded in 1947. It is now 66 years old and was located close to Louisiana College. I can remember J. Taylor Walworth as the founding pastor, when we joined in 1948. He is one of the few people in my life that never changed and looked the same shortly before his death many years later.

Can remember when Harvey McGraw was the education superintendent and a Sunday, which had 237 people present in Sunday School. It was a different time back then when fewer Louisiana College students had their own car, so they naturally walked to the church, which was closest to the college. As the years went by and more students had their own vehicles attendance started to fall. Students then could drive to the bigger churches in Alexandria and Pineville.

Starting Pineville High School in 1958

It was a huge change going from elementary school to high school and it took time to get used to moving from class to class all day at Pineville High. Went to summer school for three years, but graduated from Pineville High in September of 1962.

State Football Champions in 1960

The highlight of my high school years was when the Pineville High Rebels won the state football championship in 1960. Coach Jimmy Keeth and assistant Coach Vernon Beall led the team to a year, that the coaches and players will never forget. I think Coach Gene Millet was also a coach that year, but not positive. There has not been another championship football team from Pineville High School in the last 53 years making that year even more special.

Said Goodbye to Pineville in October of 1962

I joined the United States Army Reserve in 1962 and went to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. Finished basic shortly before Christmas, then about two weeks later boarded a train at the Missouri Pacific station for Indianapolis,Indiana and headed for the brutal Indian winter, with snow on the ground in Indianapolis, when I arrived in January of 1963.

Returned home again from the Adjutant General School in Indianapolis in April of 1963. It didn’t take long to get tired of going to Army Reserve meetings, so joined the Regular Army for a three year enlistment in May of 1963 and would only come home in October of 1964 and 1965, before being honorably discharged in May of 1966 after a tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam.

Town Talk Employment

It was later in 1966, when I would be employed by the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, not having any idea that I would be working there for 36 years with two years working for the Monroe Morning World from 1974-1976 leaving Town Talk for an $8 a week raise, but Monroe paper had me working so much overtime, that I earned $5,000 more than I had earned with Town Talk the year before. Elvis Presley, indirectly helped me get the job in Monroe. We were in Monroe to see Elvis Presley and happened to drive by the newspaper and I wound up mailing in a job application, which was accepted.

More Memories of Pineville in the 50’s and 60’s

I remember we didn’t worry about how hot it was, because we didn’t know what air conditioning was and didn’t have one till the late 60’s. We only had one television station the first few years, before Alpine Cable came to town.

We would go out Highway 28 on our bicycles, since there was not much traffic. Nowadays it would be foolish to try to ride a bike on that same road today.

I can remember the Star Theater on Main Street catching on fire and Chief Crazy Horse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were on the marquee that day.

Think it was still in the 60’s when Louisiana College ended their football program, due to lack of attendance at the games. I can remember the names of some players from back then like Clayton and Harry Bullard, Bill Mount, David Corley, Harry Ingalls, Frank Mobley, Gene Southern, Jim Jossick and Moose Munyan and of course Hamburger Harrison.

I remember George Huffman and Gus Perry from the Pineville Police Department and for some reason those are the only names I can recall.

Will never forget T.C. Brister who owned a sporting goods store letting me pay $6 for a $6.50 Nokona baseball glove, because that was all the money I had with me.

Can remember going to the display window of Jimmy Walker’s Appliance to watch television at night. I can remember visiting neighbors who had a television, which only got a New Orleans station and the picture was mostly snow, but a better picture would appear from time to time.

Trips to A&W Root Beer stand in Alexandria were a special treat. Those frosty mugs filled with root beer always hit the spot.

It is good to know that the same Martin Library we used to go to in the 50’s and 60’s is still operating many years later.

Remember well walking to Jack’s to buy the Sporting News baseball newspaper for a quarter on way home from high school.

Can remember the KALB radio record hops with the Big Bopper appearing a year or two before his death in a plane crash,which also killed Buddy Holly in Iowa.

Who can forget Mr. Pendergrast walking down the street with his top hat? There were rumors that he was rich, but not sure if he was or not. He sure didn’t live like a rich man.

Hope this article revives memories of what it was like growing up in Pineville in the 50’s and 60’s.

 

 

 

 

Classic Television: Perry Mason

Raymond Burr 1917-1993

Raymond Burr was primarily known for Perry Mason and Ironside television series. The Canadian actor originally tried out for the job of Hamilton Burger, who was the district attorney for Los Angeles, but ended up playing the lead role of Perry Mason.

Burr had portrayed a criminal in the Alfred Hitchcock class Rear Window in 1954, as he was the mysterious neighbor that Jimmy Stewart’s character watched from his wheelchair by the window of his apartment.

The radio version was broadcast from 1948-1955. Radiogoldindex.com lists 246 episodes in the radio version. Perry Mason became a television series two years later in 1957 and it was on television till 1966. It was interesting how the stories developed, then the show would end in a courtroom, as Mason would almost always win his cases.

Some interesting Perry Mason trivia from imdb.com:

When Burr was unable to act because of illness actors like Mike Connors, Bette Davis and Hugh O’Brian would replace him.

Only one episode was filmed in color, with the rest being filmed in black and white.

Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason series appeared in the final episode as a judge.

1957 Ford Skyliner

 

Mason drove a 1957 Ford Skyliner during the first season. He also drove GM cars during the first season driving a Cadillac, when he wasn’t driving the Skyliner. Some of the other characters also switched from Ford to GM cars, in different episodes.

All 271 episodes were titled “The Case of………, depending on the title of that episode.

Juries were seldom used in the episodes, so most of the courtroom scenes were from preliminary hearings, in order to save hiring 12 extras as jurors.

This morning I watched the episode named “The Case of the Melancholy Marksman” on the Hallmark Movie Channel and it was like old times watching Perry Mason in action.

It reminded me of television at its best, as I got caught up in the story and it kept my interest till the final courtroom scene was over.

Burr would go on to star on Ironside from 1967-1975, then in 1985 would appear as Mason in Perry Mason TV movies till 1993, the same year he died.

Perry Mason can be seen at various times on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

 

Groucho Marx Kept Us Laughing

The elderly lady in this photo from You Bet Your Life program asks Groucho Marx to put out his cigarette in one of the funniest moments in the history of the show.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx was born October 2, 1890 in New York City. He appeared as a 15-year-old singer on stage in 1905 and had an excellent soprano voice.

Marx appeared in every entertainment venue , as he was in vaudeville, burlesque, radio, television and movies. He was part of the Four Nightingales singing group with his brothers. A performance in Nacogdoches, Texas would prove to be a turning point in their careers, when they started cracking jokes, which was better received by the audience than their singing.

The Marx Brothers became a major hit when they entertained at the Palace Theater which epitomized success in the vaudeville era.

It would be 1921, before the Marx Brothers made their first silent movie Humor Risk, which was so bad that it was only shown once. Eight years would pass before they appeared in Cocoanuts in 1929 and would be followed by Animal Crackers in 1930. Groucho would appear in his last movie in a brief cameo, when he appeared in The Candidate in 1972.

From 1921 to 1968 Groucho appeared in movies and also was heard in 379 episodes of various radio shows from 1933-1975 with his last five shows having no date shown for those broadcasts. His most famous show You Bet Your Life was on the air from 1947-1956.

Television would become the new home for the show, but it was being heard on radio and seen on television simultaneously from 1950-1957. Marx appeared in 84 episodes of the television show from 1950-1961, but very few episodes were filmed in any of those years.

The show included a quiz, but the show was best known for the humorous banter, between Groucho and his guests. The best way to appreciate the humor in the shows is to watch one of the shows on YouTube.

I can remember when going to summer school back in my high school days, that I would return home and watch the show.

One of my favorite memories of the show was when Groucho asked a girl from India, if she knew who was buried in Grant’s Tomb and she replied “Me??!!” which caught everyone by surprise. He was trying to ask her an easy question and she still missed it. Another easy question was “What color is the White House?” Groucho was one of the best ad-libbers in show business and his ability to ad lib is what made this show so much fun.

Groucho was the very first guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show in 1962.

Some of Groucho’s quotes:

Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?

While shooting elephants in Africa, I found the tusks very difficult to remove. But in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa…

The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.

Even more quotes from Groucho:

The last years for Groucho were not happy ones, as his caretaker Erin Fleming treated him harshly, which is best described in this Wikipedia article:

Relationship with Groucho Marx

Fleming’s influence on Marx was controversial. Many close to him admitted that she did much to revive his popularity; these efforts included a series of one-man shows, culminating in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall which was released on a best-selling record album and an honorary Academy Award he received in 1974. Also, some observers felt the apparent relationship with a young starlet boosted Groucho’s ego, adding to his vitality. Others, including Marx’s son, Arthur, described her in Svengali-esque terms, accusing her of exploiting an increasingly senile and frail Marx in pursuit of her own stardom.

In the years leading up to Marx’s death in August 1977, his heirs filed several lawsuits against Fleming. One allegation leveled against Fleming was that she was determined to sell Marx’s favorite car, a Cadillac, against his wishes. When Marx protested, it was said, Fleming threatened, “I will slap you from here to Pittsburgh.” Another allegation had her dancing nude around Marx, fondling herself and asking “Don’t you wish you could have some of this?” Many people close to Marx believed Fleming was abusive towards him. Arthur wanted temporary conservatorship of his father, and took Fleming to court. According to the book Raised Eyebrows by Groucho’s secretary Steve Stoliar, Fleming had several personal problems; he stated in his book that she used drugs, had mood swings, and was given to inappropriate outbursts, both in public and in private.

The court battles dragged into the early 1980s, but judgments were eventually reached in favor of Arthur Marx, ordering Fleming to repay $472,000 to the Marx estate.

Arrest

Fleming’s mental health deteriorated in the 1990s. She was arrested once in the Los Angeles area on a weapons charge, and spent much of the decade in and out of commitments to various psychiatric facilities.[citation needed] She was also reportedly impoverished and homeless in her final years, living on the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Death

Fleming committed suicide in 2003 by shooting herself.]

Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977 of pneumonia. His death wasn’t given much publicity, due to the fact that Elvis Presley had died three days earlier.

Frankie Valli Still Going Strong At 79

Frankie Valli earlier in his career.

Frankie Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. The 79 year-old singer appeared on American Idol singing his classic hits Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You and Grease in the Season 12 American Idol finale.

Frankie Valli shown with Curtis Finch, Burnell Taylor and Lazaro Arbos on the stage during the Season 12 finale for American Idol.

Valli was enticed to sing after seeing Frank Sinatra in concert at the Paramount Theater in New York City. He appeared with various groups, but his main claim to fame came during his time singing with the Four Seasons. The group had monster hits like Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry, which all went to No.1 on the Billboard charts in 1962 and 1963. Another 1963 hit Candy Girl peaked at No.3. Dawn (Go Away) would also climb to No.3.

His first hit as a soloist was Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, which reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard charts. My Eyes Adored You went to No.1 in 1974, then he had his last No.1 solo song with Grease.

An interesting note of trivia is that the Four Seasons were named after a New Jersey bowling alley.

When Valli recorded solo albums he sang in his regular voice, not the falsetto he used with the Four Seasons. Valli sounded good whether singing in falsetto or regular voice.

The Four Seasons and Valli weren’t affected by the British invasion, as they didn’t alter their sound to fit in with the Beatles craze.

The late 70’s would see Valli battle otosclerosis, which causes loss of hearing. He would have to sing from memory during this time and but would regain his hearing in 1980.

He would record his first solo album in 27 years in 2007 and is still active today 62 years after he first became an active singer.

A crowning achievement for Valli and Four Seasons was their induction, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

These are some 30 second clips of the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli hits:

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/frankie-valli-mn0000794449/songs

Four Seasons singing Working My Way Back To You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pI1BgbYIPk

Four Seasons singing a medley of Dawn, Rag Doll and Bye Bye Baby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmFFsBCHLB0

Ryan Seacrest who is usually shorter than most of the singers on American Idol had to be happy, to stand next to the diminutive Frankie Valli who is five foot five, so Seacrest towered over him at five foot eight.

It is great to know that 79 year-old Valli is still active, with no signs of retiring anytime soon.

American Idol: America Got It Right With Choice of Candice Glover

Candice Glover is the new American Idol of Season 12.

It has been evident since the Final 10 were chosen by judges, that Candice Glover was the best singer among those singers in the Final 10.

American Idol fans confirmed that she was the best, by choosing her as the new American Idol for Season 12. The only surprise would have been if Candice had not won. Kree Harrison finished second and Angie Miller was third in Season 12. I look for Kree and Angie to have successful careers, but Candice should have her first album released long before either of them, since her album should be in stores for months, before Kree and Angie release their albums.

The producers are smart to release the first album of Candice much sooner than usual. Most albums by the current American Idol are not released till November, so the summer release will let fans of Candice have her music, in their MP3 players and phones sooner rather than later, plus many albums should be sold on the American Idol tour this summer.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=frankie+valli+on+american+idol+finale&view=detail&mid=DE2CA8D5E78046F9CAD9DE2CA8D5E78046F9CAD9&first=0&FORM=NVPFVR.

There were many guest artists on the finale, but none of them came close to matching Frankie Valli and him singing with the five guys on I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You and Grease. Valli commanded the stage like giants of entertainment do when they enter the spotlight. Valli turned 79 earlier this month and was born a year before Elvis Presley. Valli has been singing since 17, which was 62 years ago.

Aretha Franklin also sang but her singing didn’t have the impact of Valli, since she was singing from New York, but she sang some of her biggest hits, which were received well by the audience.

It was great to see Candice become the first girl  to win American Idol since Jordin Sparks won in Season 6.

Randy Jackson said his goodbyes to fans of American Idol last night. He is the only one of ten judges to remain with the show the first twelve seasons. Latest rumors say that the other three Idol judges could be leaving too, but it could be several months, before any changes to the judging panel will be announced. There are even some reports that the show could return to a three judge format.

It is too early for ratings results for the finale, but it is almost a foregone conclusion that the ratings will be the lowest for any finale in the 12 year history of the show.

The Voice Season 4 will be ending soon, then Season 5 of The Voice will return in the fall along with Season 3 of X-Factor, so three music competitions will end before American Idol returns in January.

 

 

 

 

American Idol: Candice Glover Should Be Next American Idol

http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/candice-glover-performs-i-who-have-nothing/17womoku7

It will be complete shock if Candice Glover isn’t crowned as the next American Idol. The above video escalated Candice to a whole new level of excellence. Kree Harrison is a great singer, that should have a long and successful career, but she is not the singer that Candice is.

Her rendition of I Who Have Nothing the Ben E. King classic showed that she is the best singer on American Idol this season. However, her chances of winning depend on how her voting base voted last night.

American Idol needs a win by Candice, since she is a powerhouse singer, that should sell millions of records and draw thousands to her concerts. Kree may sell a lot of albums, but she will never reach the star power of Candice, who delivers the big moments in her songs, that the Idol judges are looking for.

There are rumors that Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey will not return as judges, while Randy Jackson has already announced he won’t be returning for Season 13.

Simon Fuller: Creator of American Idol

Simon Fuller the creator of American Idol was criticized last night, for the songs he chose for Candace and Kree to sing last night. Randy Jackson disliked his song choices and Ryan Seacrest interjected, that he only said that since he would be leaving the show after tonight’s finale.

Randy was wrong to even mention song choices, since Candice and Kree only sang the songs and had no part in selecting them. Why criticize the man who created the American Idol juggernaut and paid Jackson millions of dollars since the first show?

We can expect many changes in American Idol in Season 13. Another year of lower ratings demands that changes be made.

There is way too much emphasis on the celebrity of the judges, when the focus should be entirely on the contestants. Paying Mariah Carey $18 million, Nicki Minaj $12 million and Keith Urban $5 million was not able to attract viewers in larger numbers and in fact this season had the lowest ratings in the history of the show.

There are already rumors that Jennifer Lopez may return as a judge in January, but can’t see the producers signing another high salary celebrity.

I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the previous winners join the judge panel, who wouldn’t have the clout to demand huge salaries, plus they would understand better, what the contestants are experiencing during the life of the show.

Former American Idol contestants currently have albums in the Billboard 200. The Voice may be attracting more viewers, but their winners are not selling albums and downloads like winners or also-rans from American Idol. That makes American Idol the king of the singing competitions, till the other shows start producing singers that sell albums in the millions.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/idolchatter/2013/05/15/american-idol-sales-finale-week/2164287/

American Idol: Angie Miller Goes Home, All Four Judges Reportedly To Be Fired For Season 13

Angie Miller went home on American Idol leaving Candice Glover and Kree Harrison to compete on the last performance show next Wednesday for the coveted title of American Idol.

 

It was an almost foregone conclusion for me at least, that Candice Glover and Angie Miller would be the last two standing on American Idol but the voters chose Kree Harrison to face Candice in the last performance show next Wednesday night.

There was no doubt that Kree is a good singer, but to me she was not a singer of the caliber of Angie Miller. I don’t think Kree can connect with an audience nearly as well, as Candice who clearly has to be the favorite next week, but even she is not a sure winner, unless her supporters take time to vote her the next American Idol next Thursday night.

All Four Judges Could Be Fired

The latest reports circulating in the media are saying that all four judges will be fired, before the start of Season 13 next January.

In fact, Randy Jackson announced he is leaving the show in a Thursday statement. It would have been no surprise if Nicki Minaj or Mariah Carey had been fired or both, since their feud was a distraction during Season 12. Nicki Minaj telling Mariah to “simmer down sir” was a prime example of their dislike for each other.

Mariah has fired Randy as her manager, so that may have been a cause of a reported dustup between the two.

However, doubt many observers thought that all four judges would be fired. I thought Keith Urban did a good enough job to be retained for another season.

Even executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is reportedly in line to be fired. Ryan Seacrest could be the only familiar face to return next season.

The days of the high priced divas may be over for American Idol, after paying Mariah $18 million and Nicki $12 million, for this season.

Worst of all the May sweeps ratings determine the prices that sponsors are  charged and with only 11.11 million tuning in last Wednesday night the show won’t have the money to pay the high salaries in Season 13. The 11.11 million viewers were the fewest viewers watching American Idol this season.

Season 6 ratings averaged around 30 million, so that is an indication of how far the ratings have tumbled since Jordin Sparks was the last woman, that was voted the winner of American Idol six years ago.

We should hear from American Idol management in the coming months, if these latest rumors are true. The show really has no choice, but to make changes in light of the extremely low ratings. There is almost no chance of the show being cancelled, since it is one of the top money-making shows on television.

So if you watch American Idol next week soak in the atmosphere, because it is almost a sure bet, that there will be major changes in Season 13.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/american-idol-producers-set-fire-judges-report-article-1.1339251

 

 

George Jones Dies at 81

1931-2013

George Jones has died in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 81. He had been admitted into the hospital, with fever and irregular blood pressure.

Jones was a traditional country singer in the purest sense. He was far removed from the uptown country sound heard so much today. When a country music fan thought of the greats of the past Jones was one of the first to come to mind.

George Jones shown early in his career.

The first George Jones song to make the Billboard charts was Why Baby Why which went to No.4 in 1955. Three years later White Lightning would be the first No.1 hit for Jones.

Tender Years would reach No.1 in 1961, then She Thinks I Still Care was No.1 in 1962. Five years later Walk Through This World With Me became his last No.1 hit in the 60’s.

The Grand Tour and The Door were his only No.1 hits in the 1970’s and both were released in 1974.

The 1980’s would see him release his signature song He Stopped Loving Her Today in 1980 and followed by another No.1 song Still Doin’ Time in 1981. 1983’s I Always Get Lucky With You was his last No.1 hit in the 80’s.

It has been 30 years since Jones recorded a No.1 song, but he did release three No.1 singles with Tammy Wynette, which included We’re Going to Hold On in 1973, Golden Ring and Near You in 1976.

He recorded Yesterday’s Wine another No.1 song with Merle Haggard in 1982.

It is hard to believe that Jones only had nine solo No.1 hits, but this is all that showed up on Wikipedia as being No.1 songs.

George Jones had a tumultuous life, but this is no day to go over his past. This is a day to remember one of the best pure country singers during our lifetime.

George, Thanks for the memories.

American Idol: Judges Praise Angie, Trash Kree

Candace Glover, Angie Miller, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb will find out who is going home next on American Idol on the results show tonight.

 

The judges may not have that much influence on American Idol voters, but if they do make a difference in the voting, then Angie Miller and Candace Glover should be in Top 2 and Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb should be in the Bottom 2. However, we can only guess what the actual results will show, when Ryan Seacrest reveals the results tonight.

Kree Harrison got trashed, hammered and battered by the judges after she sang the Susan Tedeschi song Hurt So Bad. I was thinking how good of a job, that she had done with the song, but the judges hated her rendition of the song. It was plain to see that Kree was shocked at being attacked so mercilessly by the judges. I thought she did a creditable job on A Whiter Shade of Pale, but the judges were not impressed by that either.

Keith Urban seemed to think the one hit wonder songs should have been recorded in the last 10 years. The contestants are not mind readers and shouldn’t be expected to know what timeline the judges were wanting the songs from.

I can understand A Whiter Shade of Pale being a one hit wonder, since it was the only hit of Procol Harum, but Cry Me A River recorded by Julie London 58 years ago in 1955 would not be considered a one hit wonder, since London recorded many more albums after its release. It has been covered many times over the years, including my favorite version by Diana Krall in her Look of Love album released in 2001.

Candace received mixed reviews from the judges, while Angie received more praise, than any of the other three contestants. It would be a tremendous shock if Angie is in the bottom two and it would show that the opinions of the judges were not affecting the voting results.

Jimmy Iovine did not like Amber singing MacArthur Park, which was written by Jimmy Webb. Iovine called the song corny, probably because of the lyrics saying “Someone left a cake out in the rain and I’ll never find that recipe again” which was corny. Interesting side note about the song: Webb wrote the song after breaking up with Linda Rondstadt, since they had met many times in MacArthur Park.

Kree and Amber clearly got the worst feedback from the judges, so it looks like Angie and Candace should be the top vote-getters.

Vote For the Worst website has Kree as the one to vote for this week, which might help her stay another week. There is speculation that Ryan Seacrest’s surprise tonight may be that nobody goes home, since the judges haven’t used their save.

So the surprise may be either that the judges use their save or that Ryan will announce nobody will go home. The bad thing about that scenario is that fans cast millions of votes for nothing, so it would make sense if the judges are allowed to use the save, rather than just announce nobody will go home.

I don’t think the judges should even have judged the two group songs. The group songs are only filler anyway and it gave the judges a third chance to trash Kree. I don’t know if Kree can recover from hearing how much the judges hated her singing to become the American Idol.

There is no sense in American Idol having a two-hour show for four contestants and next week it will again be two hours for three contestants, unless the judges use their save to keep all four contestants for another week.

Next week’s show could be the next to last show of Season 12, unless everybody stays another week tonight.

Rumors have been flying around the internet that Mariah Carey might be fired, before the completion of Season 12, to boost the ratings, but those rumors seem to have been unfounded.

For a more complete recap of last night’s show:

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/04/25/american-idol-amber-holcomb-judges-argue/

 

 

George Beverly Shea Dies At 104

George Beverly Shea 1909-2013

George Beverly Shea has died in Montreat, North Carolina after a brief illness at the age of 104. He was born on February 1, 1909 in Winchester, Ontario, Canada.

Shea is best known for being a soloist with the Billy Graham crusade from 1947 till almost 60 years later when Graham was no longer physically able to stand and preach.

George Beverly Shea shown with Billy Graham at a crusade.

His recording career lasted from 1951 till his death and he recorded 70 albums during his recording career. I can still remember hearing him sing How Great Thou Art and It Took A Miracle and many other songs during the televised crusades.

He was an accomplished musician playing the violin, piano and organ.

Shea was married a combined 70 years to his first wife Erma Scharfe who died in 1976 and his second wife whom he married in 1985 and survived him upon his death.

George Beverly Shea may be gone, but he will never be forgotten by the many of us who saw him sing so many times over the years, with the Billy Graham crusade. His music will live on for years to come.

Comedy Icon Jonathan Winters Dies At 87

Jonathan Winters 1925-2013

America has lost another comedy icon of the early days of television, with the passing of Jonathan Winters today at the age of 87 in Montecito, California. Winters was born in Dayton, Ohio on November 11, 1925.

The thing I remember most about Jonathan Winters were the funny faces he could make. He first made a name for himself in stand-up comedy and released 22 comedy albums from 1960-2011.

His first television appearance appearing as someone other than himself was when he appeared, on Omnibus in 1954. He was heard on one old-time radio show Monitor in 1959, before old-time radio died on September 30, 1962.

Winters appeared in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1963. This is physical comedy at its best as Winters levels a service station singlehandedly and he earned $130,000 for his appearance in the movie. :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzZsp8SvJj8

He later appeared as Mearth on Mork and Mindy television series. His last movie appearance was as Papa on Smurfs 2, which is in post-production. He was to have appeared in Big Finish, but it is in pre-production, so he won’t be seen in that film.

Many of his best known television appearances were Tonight Show, Jack Paar Show and Hollywood Squares.

The world has lost of the best improvisational comics ever. Jonathan Winters will be missed by a legion of fans.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/arts/television/jonathan-winters-comedian-dies-at-87.html?pagewanted=all&amp&_r=0

American Idol: Nicki Minaj Going Overboard……Again

Nicki Minaj tweeted that ousted contestant Devin Velez needed to be gracious after being voted off the show last week and that she wasn’t going to use the save on a boy contestant.

Nicki Minaj took to Tweeter lecturing Devin Velez that he should be gracious for being on the show. When Velez sang I Can’t Help Myself on Wednesday night, with Lazaro Arbos and Burnell Taylor Minaj compared their singing to that of Hollywood week. Even worse, she ordered the group off the stage, which to me was extremely mean. They had to feel bad enough, after being trashed by Minaj, without her ordering them off the stage.

Nicki Minaj tweeted to Devin Velez last week, after he tweeted that Minaj was not very professional in ordering the group of Velez, Lazaro Arbos and Burnell Taylor, off the stage after their rendition of I Can Help Myself. Velez did admit the performance was sub-par, but thought Minaj acted unprofessionally, when ordering them off the stage. Minaj tweeted back that Velez needed to be gracious for his shot on the show.

Nicki Minaj was angered by a tweet by Devin Velez, after he was voted off the show and tweeted back to him that he should have been gracious for even being on the show. She went on to say in her tweet, that she was not going to save a boy, since the girls are much better singers. Velez said he didn’t mind being criticized by Minaj after the group of Velez, Lazaro Arbos and Burnell Taylor performed I Can’t Help Myself, but thought she acted unprofessionally, by telling the group to get off the stage.

I don’t think that the group singing should have even be judged on Wednesday night. It was just more filler to justify having eight singers sing in a two-hour show. Fox could have easily cut the show to half and hour, since each song takes about a minute and a half and then the judges do their critiques for 3 or 4 minutes, so each song and judging of that song should last no longer than 6 minutes. That comes out to 48 minutes for 6 songs. That left an hour and 12 minutes for commercials and filler material. Can’t wait till they get down to 6 songs, so maybe they will cut the show down to an hour and a half.

The first poll question is if Nicki Minaj is helping or hurting American Idol ratings in Season 12:

The second poll question is which of the remaining 7 contestants will become the American Idol of Season 12?

I think Minaj has been a major factor in Season 12 of American Idol losing so many viewers. Last Thursday night’s results show was the lowest ratings of the season. I do agree that the save will not be used on a boy, when it could be used on a girl with real talent.

My personal picks for top three to win and not necessarily the one I want to win would be between Candace Glover, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison.

There are even rumors that Ryan Seacrest may not return for the next season, but if I remember right he is in second year of three-year contract paying him $15 million a year.

Mr. Ed Still In Reruns 52 Years Later

Mr. Ed the talking horse shown with owner Wilbur Post who was portrayed by Alan Young.

 

Mr. Ed a comedy series about a talking horse debuted in January of 1958. The owner of the horse in this show was Wilbur Pope, while Alan Young would portray Wilbur Post, when the show became a regular show on the CBS television network.

Mr. Ed was originally named Bamboo Harvester, after being born in El Monte, California 64 years ago in 1949. His name was changed to Mr. Ed after appearing on the show.

Imdb.com says that Mr. Ed died in 1979 at the age of 30,33 or 34, but other sources say that Mr. Ed died in 1968, 1973 or 1974, so in other words nobody seems to really know the date of his death.

Larry Keating, who portrayed Roger Addison the next door neighbor died in the third season and was replaced by Leon Ames of Topper fame and portrayed Col. Gordon Kirkwood.

Katy Rose a singer grew up in the home Mr. Ed lived in many years after the show ended.

The show was owned by George Burns McCadden Production and Burns chose Alan Young to play Wilbur Post, since he seemed like the kind of guy a horse would talk to.

Mr. Ed was a golden Palomino who would only respond to his trainer Les Hilton, since Mr. Ed would not respond to his co-stars.

His daily diet consisted of 20 pounds of hay and a gallon of sweet tea to wash it down. If he got tired Mr. Ed would simply walk off the set. Anyone else would get fired for such insubordination, but not Mr. Ed who was the real star of the show.

Allan “Rocky Lane” a cowboy star was the voice of Mr. Ed.
Alan Young and Connie Hines with Mr. Ed in the background.

 

 

Alan Young who portrayed Wilbur Post and Connie Hines who played his wife Carol Post on Mr. Ed shown a few years later.

 

Mr. Ed was the kind of show that was entertaining, without being controversial. It may have been silly nonsense, but who cared if the viewers enjoyed it. I still record it off the Hallmark Channel, then watch the shows later so I can zip past the commercials.

This is typical of the dialogue heard on the show:

Wilbur Post: [after Ed finds a straw hat] What are you going to do with a straw hat?

Mister Ed: I’ll wear it till it goes out of style. Then I’ll eat it!

Alan Young was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England on November 19, 1919. He was heard in the old-time radio show on the Alan Young Show. I recently heard one of the shows for the first time and the show was surprisingly good, since the show is not mentioned much in old-time radio circles. The show kept me entertained from beginning to end.

Young later would be the voice of Scrooge McDuck on the Duck Tales series.

Alan Young is now 93 and lives in Laguna Niguel, California.

Connie Hines who played Carol Post was born in Dedham, Massachusetts on March 24, 1931 and  was seen in the Whirlybirds series for those of us who go that far back.

Hines only acted three more times after Mr. Ed ended, with appearance in one episode each of Bonanza, Love American Style and her last appearance in Mod Squad in 1971. She didn’t appear on TV or in the movies the last 38 years of her life.

She died due to a heart condition on December 18, 2009 at the age of 78.

Mr. Ed may have left the air in 1966, but is still in reruns 52 years later. Mr. Ed was and still remains one of my favorite shows. The interaction between Mr. Ed and his owner Wilbur Post is the highlight of the shows.

This is one of the few remaining shows on television, that you can watch with no bad language and no double entendre jokes, that are so prevalent today on the situation comedies of today. Shows like Mr. Ed, Andy Griffith, Father Knows Best are a refuge, from the shows being shown on the networks today. Some of the older shows, that were so entertaining are seldom seen on television today. I haven’t seen an episode of Amos and Andy, Ozzie and Harriet, Red Skelton Show, Life of Riley and others for years and years. Those reruns are not being shown for some reason. There may be stations or networks telecasting some or all of those shows, but if they are I am not aware of it.

Thanks Mr. Ed for still being around to bring back the memories of years gone by.

 

 

Net Worth of Petula Clark, Fabian, Prince Jackson, Connie Francis and Gordon Lightfoot

Petula Clark – $10 Million

The Celebrity Net Worth website lists 80 year-old Petula Clark as being worth $10 million. Clark has now been singing for 74 years. When I think of Petula Clark I think of her hit song Downtown.

Fabian – $25 Million

Fabian Forte known only as Fabian by most rock and roll fans was 70 last February and although he may not have a lot of hit songs he made his mark in the movies, appearing in a total of 45 movies and TV shows from 1959-1996. Celebrity Net Worth lists Fabian’s net worth at $25 million.

Prince Michael Joseph Jackson – $100 Million

 

Prince Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. may be only 16, but he is already worth $100 million.. He may or may not have access to that money now, but his financial security is insured, if he doesn’t go through his money too fast.

Connie Francis – $25 Million

The net worth of Connie Francis is listed at $25 million despite the fact that she only had three No.1 hits in her 70 year career. The 74-year-old Francis had her first No.1 hit in My Heart’s Got A Mind Of Its Own in 1960. Her next No. 1 hit was released in 1961 when Together was No.1 on adult contemporary chart and her last No. 1 hit was Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You which reached No.1 on the Billboard charts in 1962. Francis has not even released an album since 1969.  One of her best known songs was Who’s Sorry Now, but it peaked at No.4 for her first Top 10 hit in 1957.

Her biggest regret was not marrying Bobby Darin, after her dad chased Darin out of a building at gunpoint. He then said Darin was out of their lives, when the news of his marriage was broadcast on the radio. Francis said she wished their car had been filled with water, while driving in the Lincoln Tunnel and hoping her father would both be killed.

Gordon Lightfoot in 1967 – $30 Million

The 74 year-old Gordon Lightfoot is listed as being worth $30 million.  Lightfoot has been singing since 1956 at the age of 18. Bob Dylan said Lightfoot was one of his favorite songwriters. He wrote Early Morning Rain, which was covered by many well-known singers including Elvis Presley.

His first No.1 song was If You Could Read My Mind, which reached No.1 in Canada in 1970. His other No. 1 hits on Canadian pop charts were Sundown in 1974 and The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald in 1976. Lightfoot had nine songs reach No.1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary charts. Sundown was the only Lightfoot song to reach No.1 on the U.S. pop charts, but he placed four songs on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts.

He released his last album All Live on Rhino Records in 2012. It includes most of his most well-known hits in this list from Wikipedia:

  • All Songs Written By Gordon Lightfoot

Remembering Roy Orbison 25 Years After His Death

It doesn’t seem like this December will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Roy Orbison. Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas on April 23, 1936 and died in Madison, Tennessee on December 6, 1988 at the age of 52.

Orbison has left behind a rich musical legacy with his signature songs like Crying, Only the Lonely and Oh, Pretty Woman. He also was a songwriter writing songs like Claudette, which was recorded by the Everly Brothers.

1960 would bring his first Top 10 hit Only the Lonely which reached No.2 on the Billboard charts. Orbison would release  his first No.1 hit in 1960, when he recorded Running Scared and then would also see Crying reach No.2 on the charts that same year.

His main hit in 1963 was  Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) which topped out at No.4 on the Billboard charts. Blue Bayou, one of his better known songs only reached No.29 in the United States, but went to No.1 in Australia. Mean Woman Blues peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard charts that same year.  In fact he only had two No.1 songs on pop charts in the United States, but had nine No. 1 hits in Australia.

Oh, Pretty Woman was his last No.1 hit in 1964, but he released It’s Over, which topped out at No.9 on pop charts, but claimed the No.1 spot on adult contemporary charts in 1964.

Orbison would not record another No.1 hit in the United States in the last 28 years of his singing career.

Opened For Beatles In United Kingdom

Duane Eddy was scheduled to appear in United Kingdom in 1963, but he was replaced by Roy Orbison. He opened for the Beatles and he performed without moving and yet the fans liked him so much that they asked for encores fourteen times. By this time the Beatles finally had to physically hold him back, so they could go on stage.  The crowd was chanting “We want Roy” which was a surprise, since the fans came to see the Beatles that night.

Orbison didn’t even know who the Beatles were and asked what’s a beetle and John Lennon said “I am”. The Beatles and Orbison became good friends later as they admired Orbison for commanding a crowd, even though he hardly even moved.

Wife Has Affair With Contractor

Orbison’s wife Claudette had an affair with the contractor who built their Hendersonville, Tennessee home. Claudette did join him that fall on a tour to England. She gave Orbison the idea for his hit song Oh, Pretty Woman, when she told him that she was leaving for home. He asked her if she needed money and she said ” Pretty woman never needs money” and it was only 40 minutes later before the song Oh, Pretty Woman was finished.

Personal Tragedies

The first of a string of tragedies began for Orbison during a 1965 tour in UK.  He broke his foot in front of thousands of screaming fans and had to perform in a cast. He reconciled with his wife Claudette after the accident, but she would die the next year when she was hit by a semi-trailer while she and Orbison were riding home on separate motorcycles on June 6, 1966.

Tragedy struck Orbison again on September 16, 1968, when he learned his Hendersonville, Tennessee home had burned down and his two eldest sons had perished in the fire. Orbison had now lost his wife and two sons in 27 months time. He would marry Barbara Jakobs of Germany on March 25, 1969.

Orbison would have to have a triple heart bypass on January 18, 1978.

Career Revived in 1987

Roy Orbison started to revive his music career in 1987, after being pushed into the background by the British invasion. He joined the Traveling Wilburys, which played a major part in reviving his career. His stage name was Lefty Wilbury in honor of the late country music star Lefty Frizzell.

Death and Aftermath

Orbison would travel to Europe in November of 1988 and some observers noticed that he looked ill, but he continued to perform. He then returned to Hendersonville to rest, before embarking on another trip to London this time, to film two videos for the Traveling Wilburys.

However, the trip would never take place, because he would fly model airplanes with his son on December 6, 1988 and then visited his mother for dinner and died after dinner that night. Ironically his wife Barbara would die on the same date 23 years later on December 6, 2011 from pancreatic cancer.

Legacy

Roy Orbison left a rich musical legacy behind for his fans. Only Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison have had two Top 5 albums at the same time.  He will be forever remembered for singing while not moving, wearing his sunglasses and being dressed in black. His music is still being sung today as evidenced by Kree Harrison, an American Idol contestant sang Crying last Wednesday night, which reminded me of Orbison singing the original version which can be heard below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls2lC7DQFMI

American Idol Popularity Waning: Almost 20 Million Less Viewers Than in 2007

American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban are shown with host Ryan Seacrest in the center. The show is staggering into Season 12 as viewers leave the show in droves.

The first American Idol show was telecast on June 11, 2002 with 9.85 viewers watching The 2003 premiere show attracted 26.50 million viewers almost tripling the viewers from 2002. The 2007 premiere show attracted a record 37.44 million viewers, but there has been a steady decline of viewers since then, bottoming out at 17.93 viewers to start Season 12 last January. The show has lost close to 20 million viewers in the last six seasons.

Surprisingly the season finale topped out in Season 2 in 2003 at 38.06 million viewers and last year’s finale only attracted 21.49 million viewers, which is the all-time low for a finale.

With The Voice being telecast twice a year and X-Factor being shown in the fall it appears singing competition shows have reached the saturation point.  With American Idol starting about a month after the last X-Factor show has been shown, fans are not getting much of a break.

The Voice and X-Factor winners don’t get near the publicity of the American Idol winners. Quick, name all three winners of The Voice and the two winners of X-Factor. Only the most devout fans of either show could give you those names, without stopping to think it over.

Melanie Amaro who won X-Factor in December of 2011 has yet to release her debut album, which will be released next month. Meanwhile Phil Phillips the Season 11 winner of American Idol has already sold 700,000 copies of his debut album Dark Side of the Moon which has received 361 five-star reviews, while receiving only 5 one star reviews. I have to admit that I didn’t think Phil Phillips would go far as an artist, but he could be on the cusp of a great career.

Phil Phillips has been opening shows for Matchbox 20.

Season 12

American Idol went from a three judge panel of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson in Season 11 to a four person panel of Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey in Season 12. The show got off on the wrong foot, before the first show aired as Nicki Minaj threatened to knock out Mariah Carey at the Charlotte auditions. They tangled more along the way to the opening show, but in recent weeks they have both calmed down and don’t talk to each other. Minaj is said to have said that if she had a gun she would shoot Carey, but later denied ever saying that.

Placing two divas on the judging panel was a recipe for disaster and that was what it turned out to be. I am sure the producers have told them to cool it, because most viewers like me don’t like a lot of attention being placed on the judges. Nicki Minaj seemed to be harsher with contestants a few weeks ago but seems to have calmed down and show more compassion for the contestants.

Keith Urban has really surprised me with his knowledge of American music and has very well thought out critiques of the singers. Randy Jackson has apparently appointed himself as the villain among the panelists, as he seems to be more critical of the singers, than the other three judges. Mariah Carey is taking over the Paula Abdul role as the judge who seldom says anything critical of most singers.

Ellen DeGeneres was by far the worst judge in the history of American Idol. She seemed to be more intent on cracking jokes, than on making meaningful critiques of the singers. It was no surprise, that she was a one season and out judge. I think even she sensed she didn’t belong on American Idol as a judge. Know that has nothing to do with Season 12, but just felt compelled to mention her judging skills or lack of.

It is too early to have a favorite or even to mention any names of the Season 12 contestants, since there are many eliminations ahead before the Final 10 is announced.

Apparently the tradition of judges going to rooms with contestants and telling which rooms are going home and which ones are advancing has been dropped, but that could change before the Final 10 is chosen. I liked that the Hollywood group week contestants were sorted into groups by American Idol executives. It ridded the show of the drama of singers begging to join a group or being dismissed by a group. I will never forget the season when the young boy from Louisiana was dumped by one group and him having to find a new group.

I don’t know if the tradition of contestants taking the long walk to talk to judges and being told their fate by the judges will be repeated this season. I am hoping by the end of this week, that we will know who the Final 10 singers are. Right now I think that the girl singers are better and should have more singers in the Top 10, but the producers may want an even number of girls and boys in the Top 10.

TV By the Numbers shows that both Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest attracted more viewers than American Idol last Thursday. The show is no longer the juggernaut it used to be, but it still is one of the most-watched shows on television.

It will be interesting to find out who the Final 10 will be composed of and we should know by the end of Thursday night’s show.

Magazine Ads From the Past

These ads will bring a lot of memories to the old-timers among us and will let the younger generation know about the days, when you could buy a Coca-Cola for 5 cents and a pack of gum for 5 cents.

Smokesational! Radiolutionary! Smokerette-Radio by Stewart Warner: The only combination smoker and radio set. Magazine Ad, later 1940’s
A combination radio-smoker which provided smokers with a place for their cigarettes, cigars, pipes and tobacco, while listening to their favorite radio programs on this $49.95 radio.
This is the precursor of the Sony Walkman for only $7.95, before shipping and federal tax.

 

A one pound bag of Bazooka Bubble Gum will set you back $7.99 today after inflation kicked in.

 

 

You could look up and down every aisle of every grocery store in the United States today and not find these prices. Two boxes of Wheaties probably cost at least 25 cents nowadays and two pounds of coffee has probably doubled to 50 cents.

 

Barber shop prices of the 1900’s on the left. No date given for the prices on the right.

 

Barber shop prices over a 100 years later. The shave and a haircut of the 1900’s cost a total of 60 cents. That same shave and haircut today costs $33.00.

 

Ralph Emery : 79 And Still On Television

Ralph Emery in his early years on television.

 

Ralph Emery got his start with radio station WTPR in Paris, Tennessee in 1951, while earning a salary of $39.50 a week. By 1953 Emery was working for WSIX with shows on both radio and television in Nashville.

Emery has been in radio for 62 years and in television for 60 years and will be 80 on March 10 of this year.

I bought my first AM-FM radio stereo, which was about five feet wide in 1967 from Tony’s Appliance Center and  I remember listening to Ralph Emery on WSM out of Nashville. I enjoyed the way he interviewed the country stars and played the great country songs of that era. It was like being in another world, when listening to the most famous country music disc jockey ever in Emery. He would work briefly in 1956 for WLCS in Shreveport, Louisiana, before returning to Nashville.

 

Moves to WSM Radio in 1957

When Emery was hired by WSM radio in Nashville it was a huge career advancement. He was now being heard on a 50,000 watt station, that reached many areas of the country. He worked the graveyard shift at WSM from 1957-1972.

Emery was seen on WSM-TV off and on from 1963-1991 on various country shows that he hosted. He also hosted a syndicated show named Pop Goes the Country.

He brought country music to the forefront when he hosted Nashville Now on the The Nashville Network from 1983-1993.

Ralph Emery interviewing Merle Haggard on Nashville Now.

Nashville Now did more for country music, than any other television show before or since. Country music fans could see their favorite singers sing and be interviewed by the best country music host Ralph Emery. He was the glue that held the show together for 10 wonderful years.

One thing I will always remember is Randy Travis singing as Randy Ray on one show, then he appeared as Randy Travis the next time he appeared on Nashville Now. His real name is Randy Trawick, so finally settled on Randy Travis as his name.

Fans loved that the show was on five nights a week and gave them a chance to really know the singers, when they were interviewed by Emery. This show was a first class production with regular backup singers and musicians, which complemented the singing of the stars.

 

Emery Can Be Seen on RFD-TV

Ralph Emery started a new show Ralph Emery Live which started on the RFD television cable network in 2007.

For example last week T.G. Sheppard was on the show and Emery asked Sheppard about his days with the Memphis Mafia, that stayed at Graceland. Sheppard was then Bill Browder who worked promoting RCA artists. Elvis Presley was surprised to learn that Bill Browder was recording under the name of T.G. Sheppard. Elvis asked why he didn’t tell him and was told that Browder was afraid of being fired by RCA if the secret came out in the open. Elvis then says “I am RCA” inferring that Browder didn’t have a reason to worry about losing his job. Sheppard tells how he heard about the death of Elvis. He said he got a call from J.D. Sumner, which was unusual in itself, but he had an idea that Elvis had died and told Sumner he knew why he was calling.

Sheppard is then asked questions by viewers who call in to the show, which was interesting as they asked him what songs he liked the most, of the songs that he recorded.

You could tell Sheppard was in awe of Emery and knows what he did for the careers of many country music stars. From the graveyard shift on WSM radio to the television show on RFD TV Emery has been an ambassador for country music.

Have recorded the next show when Emery interviews Lorrie Morgan. In fact Lorrie owes a lot of her success to Emery who hosted a morning show in Nashville, in which Lorrie often sang.

Life has not always been a bed of roses for Emery,  as he had a very rough childhood and entered the world of country music, to escape an unhappy situation at home. His marriage to Skeeter Davis who recorded The End of the World was a rocky one that ended in divorce. Emery has written  his autobiography and other books about country music.

Ralph Emery to me epitomizes country music and what it stands for and he may be the best interviewer ever in any entertainment spectrum.

 

It would be 56 years after his first radio job, before Emery was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Memories of a Lifetime: 1961-1965

1961 – Entered the 12th grade, after spending two years in the 10th grade at Pineville High School, due to going to summer school for the third straight year.

John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president on January 20.

Remember listening to Chicago White Sox games on KSYL AM, out of Alexandria, Louisiana, with Bob Elson and Milo Hamilton as the announcers. This was the summer that Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were battling to break Babe Ruth’s season home run record of 60. Bob and Milo would give updates during the White Sox games, about what Roger and Mickey were doing in the home run race. Maris would hit his 61st home run on October 1, which broke the 34-year-old record of Ruth. Surprisingly only 21,000 fans were present to see the achievement of Maris.

The ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion ended two days later. It was a failed attempt to remove Fidel Castro from power. He had taken power in 1959 and is still in power today 54 years later.

1962 – K-Mart would open its first store in Garden City Michigan on March 1 and the company is now 51-years-old. July 2 would see the first Wal-Mart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas.

My senior class graduated in May, but it would be September before I received my diploma, because I had failed English IV.

I joined the Army Reserve in Alexandria, Louisiana and was sent to Fort Polk for basic training in October. We were kept so busy at Fort Polk during basic, that we had no clue of the magnitude of the Cuban missile crisis that October. The only clue we had been what we said when we marched:

I don’t know but I believe

I’ll be in Cuba by Christmas Eve

Little did we know we were on the brink of a nuclear disaster and we didn’t know about it till we finished basic training in December.

I won’t mention any names, but a soldier from Wardville thought it would be fun, to yell from the barracks upstairs at a sergeant saying “Hey nutbrain”. That was not a smart thing to do on his part. That sergeant did not waste any time, as he made his way up in the stairs in record time. The soldier was told in no uncertain terms, that calling his sergeant “nutbrain” was not acceptable behavior.

1963 – Was on leave when the year started, but would board a passenger train for Indianapolis, Indiana at the Missouri Pacific depot in January. That depot was later torn down, but assembled in a new location in downtown Alexandria.

I can remember seeing snow falling when we went through St. Louis, then after arriving in Indianapolis saw several inches of snow on the ground. I learned what a Indiana winter was like, while being stationed at the Adjustant General’s School at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Some soldiers called it “Uncle Ben’s Rest Home”. Attended the postal school there from January through April, before returning to Louisiana having finished my six months of active duty.

It took attending a few Army Reserve meetings, before I decided to join the Regular Army and joined in May of 1963. I requested to be sent to Germany or Hawaii and received orders for Hawaii. Was flown to San Francisco and took a helicopter to the Oakland Army Terminal.

Spent eight days at the terminal before boarding flight to Hawaii. We were on a slow MATS transport plane, so the trip took several hours. When I arrived at Schofield Barracks the home of the 25th Infantry Division I heard some of the soldiers talking about having just a few days left before being discharged. I figured out that I had only 1,095 days left and they got a big kick out of that.

Hawaii is a beautiful state and liked being stationed there. The Army Service Club conducted tours of the island of Oahu and would take us on a bus trip around the island. Wish I had taken some color photos of the scenery, but only took black and white photos.

One of my first memories was seeing the Beach Boys at Conroy Bowl, the arena where entertainers appeared. Remember seeing Johnny Cash and June Carter and Sue Thompson there. It was a highlight for me, when Sue Thompson shook hands with me, while singing one of her songs.

I loved going to the beach, since the Service Club took the soldiers on busses to the different beaches each weekend. I would listen to music on my radio, while looking across the ocean toward California. Surf music was at its height in 1963 and even today I Heart radio has a station, with only surf music being featured.

By far the biggest event of 1963 was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22. The regular company postal clerk was on leave, so I was the temporary clerk while he was gone. I had my radio on in the post office, when I heard the announcement that JFK had been shot. I immediately informed the company commander, who had not heard about it yet.

Meanwhile the postal clerk on leave to New York was flying standby and his flight was rerouted from California to Texas, which landed in Dallas about the same time as the assassination. So he got caught in the middle of all the commotion, even though he wasn’t even thinking of having to go through Dallas.

Just missed by a few minutes of seeing Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down in the Dallas Police station on the TV, in the dayroom but not too disappointed since I didn’t really want to see it anyway.

A few days later we would march in a memorial observance of JFK’s death and it was a surreal experience, knowing that the president of the United States had been assassinated and marching on the parade grounds brought it home.

Went to a Christmas show in December, that really made me homesick, when they sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”.

1964 – Went on temporary duty to Molokai, the island on which Father Damien established his leper colony. The ride there on a boat was a rocky one and wound up getting very sick, even if was only a 20 something mile trip from Oahu.

Can remember it pouring down that week a lot and that I heard on the radio, that Lyndon B. Johnson had defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election.

I can remember flying home to Pineville in October of 1964, my first trip home since leaving in May of 1963. I took my leave in October, so I could see the World Series while I was at home. I think it was this trip, that when flying back saw professional wrestler Sputnik Monroe aboard the plane. Coincidentally, he and his wrestling brother Rocket both lived in Alexandria and had performed at Jimmie Thompson’s Arena. That reminds me of the time when my brother, who knows sign language saw a deaf wrestler Silento Rodriguez being knocked from the ring and went over and signed to him, asking if he was OK and the wrestler signed back that he was OK.

1995 – This was the year that I was sent to the Big Island named Hilo, to work at the Camp Pohokoloa (sp) post office. I remember one payday, that we sold $28,000 worth of money orders and that I came up $107 short at the end of the day. The other postal worker working that day later was court-martialed, for stealing money from the post office, so I have always wondered if he didn’t take the missing money. Worst thing is that my wages were garnished till the $107 was paid back to the post office.

The post office was at a high altitude and I could see snow-capped mountains in the distance. It was cold there, even if it was Hawaii. Tsunamis hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960 killing 160 and 61 people respectively.

Saw a missionary from Pineville who was living in Hilo at this time. My mom had told me where to find her and I had a nice visit with her.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: