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Category Archives: Rock and Roll

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. 

 

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American Idol Draws 4 Million Less Viewers

American Idol returns for its 14th season in 2015 with judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez

and Harry Connick, Jr., with Ryan Seacrest who has hosted the show since its inception.

American Idol started its 14th season, by drawing 4 million fewer viewers, than they attracted for the first show of Season 13. That was a decline of 25 percent from the Season 13 premiere. The show reached its peak in Season 6, when they attracted 37.44 million viewers for the premiere that year in 2007.

The premiere this year attracted 26 million fewer viewers, than watched the show in 2007.

Randy Jackson, who was a mentor during Season 13 won’t be seen in Season 14, unless it is in a guest appearance, since he is no longer employed by the show.

There should be no Coca-Cola cups at the judge’s table in Season 14, since Coca-Cola no longer is a sponsor.

The Voice Providing Competition

The Voice on NBC has attracted more viewers recently, than American Idol, but The Voice has had less success in launching careers of their winning contestants.

Season 8 of The Voice premieres on February 23, 2015, so the two shows will be on different nights.

I have watched American Idol since Season 2, so will probably go down with American Idol ship, when it sinks out of sight in the next year or two. I like the chairs turning around gimmick on The Voice, but not a fan of the battle rounds competition. Not to say it isn’t a good show….it is just my loyalty to American Idol  supersedes that of The Voice.

Aftermath for American Idol Winners

American Idol has had some winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, that have sold millions of albums, but then they have their share of singers like Phillip Phillips who made second albums, that didn’t sell nearly as well as their first album, as shown in this Billboard.com review of his sales for his second album:

Phillip Phillips, Behind the Light

First-Week Sales: 42,000

Previous Album’s First Week: The World From the Wrong Side of the Moon, 169,000

Year-to-Date Sales: 123,000

Why It Looks Bad: The American Idol champ’s debut was buoyed by a hit single, “Home,” something his second has yet to produce. And more than a regular artist, people expect a sophomore slump from an Idol champ — so his low first-week tally wasn’t a good look.

Counterpoint: Like 50’s album, the year-to-date total sales for Behind the Lightaren’t terrible. In fact, with the holidays approaching, sales for Phillips’ second are higher than they’ve been in weeks, suggesting there’s life in the album yet.

Scotty McCreery is now 21, after winning Season 10 four years ago. His album and single sales have done well, with him his first album Clear Day going platinum and his second album Christmas With Scotty McCreery earning a gold album certification.

Caleb Johnson Season 13 Winner

Caleb Johnson, who won Season 13 has seen his singing career get off to a very slow start, as indicated by this entry about his first album at Wikipedia:

Chart performance

The album debuted on Billboard 200 at No. 24 with 11,000 copies sold in its debut week, giving him the distinction of having the lowest first week sales and inaugural chart position of any American Idol winner.[8]Johnson also has the distinction of being the first American Idol winner to have their Idol coronation song, “As Long as You Love Me,” fail to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

On the other hand Kelly Clarkson has released six albums and all six have gone platinum and have peaked at either #1, #2 or #3 on the album charts. She has recorded four #1 hits.

Carrie Underwood has recorded 12 #1 hits on the country charts.

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 10 years, since Carrie Underwood won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. All four of her albums have gone platinum. It is hard to believe, that she hasn’t recorded an album since 2012, so we should see another Carrie Underwood album released, in the not too distant future. Her 12 #1 hits is the most recorded by any of the American Idol winners.

Results Show Shortened To Half Hour

The Fox network will be shortening the Thursday night results show of American Idol, to half an hour in Season 14. It will be a welcome relief, to American Idol fans, who were tiring of all the filler used in the results show in past seasons. Ryan Seacrest won’t have so much time to stretch out the drama, of who will be going home that night.

Ryan Seacrest has promised that Season 14 will have great talent, but American Idol fans will believe that, when they see and hear the shows.

I personally believe this is the best set of judges since the debut of the show. It will be nice to not hear “Yo dog” and “In it to win it” in Season 14, even though we didn’t hear it in Season 13 either. It is a huge improvement over the train wreck of a judging panel, when Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey took their battle public and overshadowed the contestants, by their constant bickering.

The back stories for  the contestants are what make American Idol so great in my book. Like the blind man, who sang a Spanish song for Jennifer Lopez on last week’s show. He may not be the next American Idol, but he will be one of the highlights of Season 14 for me.

So far this season the focus has been more on the talented singers, and less on the singers who have no talent. We know the judges just see a small percent of the singers, since they have others, that weed out the less than prime-time ready singers.

The Voice may have passed American Idol in the ratings, but American Idol will be the show I watch, till it fades out for the last time.

By this time next year we should know if Season 14 has produced another Caleb Johnson or another Carrie Underwood, or a singer somewhere in the middle of the two singers.

 

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Classic Television: Green Acres 1965-1971

Green Acres 1965-1971

First Row – Eva Gabor, Eddie Albert, Eleanor Audley

Second Row – Alvy Moore, Tom Lester, Pat Buttram

Green Acres was one of the cornier CBS country comedies of that era, but at the same time it was one of the most entertaining. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were involved in the main plot, for each episode but the comedy ensemble backing them up is what set the show apart.

Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert as Oliver and Lisa Douglas who gave up big city life to move to Green Acres.

Who can forget county agent Hank Kimball played by Alvy Moore? Then Tom Lester the farmhand who was portrayed by Tom Lester. Mr. Haney kept us entertained as the con man, who sold Oliver Douglas useless items, that didn’t work often during the life of the show.

Green Acres - 03x30 A Star Named Arnold is Born (2)

Arnold the pig studying movie script for next movie. 

Fred Ziffel played by Hank Patterson, on the show owned a pig named Arnold. It turned out that Arnold like to steal scenes, from the humans appearing the show. Arnold would be about 50 this year, if still living at the Retired Home for Animals Who Acted.

The rumor that the cast had a luau after the last episode was aired, with Arnold as the main course was completely untrue.

Mr.Haney the fast talking con man trying to pull over on Oliver. 

Eva Gabor portrayed Lisa Douglas the wife, who didn’t really want to live on the farm, but put up with it for the sake of her husband Oliver Douglas, whose dream was to own a farm. He never would have followed his dream, if he knew ahead of time that he would be dealing with a shady con man in Mr. Haney, a inept county agent in Mr. Kimball, a pig that liked to watch television and a farmhand that didn’t know a wheelbarrow from a hay wagon in Eb.

Eddie Albert revealed that he had a 10 percent interest in the show, so probably reaped a rich dividend, when the show went into reruns.

Grave marker for Alvy Moore better known as Hank Kimball on the show. 

Mr. Haney according to imdb.com based his character on Col Tom Parker, who reportedly took 51 percent of the income of Elvis Presley, with Elvis having to eke out a living on the other 49 percent.

Oliver usually wore business clothes, even when working on the farm.

Some funny quotes from the show from imdb.com:

Lisa Douglas: Why do you want to irritate your corn?

Oliver Douglas: Irrigate. It means put water on it.

Lisa Douglas: Won’t that irritate it?

 

Eustace Charleton Haney: [after learning Oliver and Lisa are going to be out-of-town for a few days] While yer away on yer trip, I thought you might like to avail yerself of Haney’s Farm Mindin’ Service.

Oliver Wendell Douglass: HANEY’S FARM MINDING SERVICE?

Eustace Charleton Haney: Yessir, at Haney’s Farm Mindin’ Service, for a nom-yew-nal fee we will move into yer house, eat yer food, drink yer likker, and turn away any unwanted relatives that might show up at yer door.

 

Oliver Douglas: Why don’t we give away this one?

Lisa Douglas: No that’s the dress I graduated from high school in.

Oliver Douglas: How about this one?

Lisa Douglas: That’s the dress I wore the first day of college.

Oliver Douglas: [holding a black, low-cut dress] What about this one?

Lisa Douglas: That’s the one I got expelled in.

 

Green Acres was a victim of the CBS purge of rural comedies, because CBS thought the shows were only attracting rural and older audiences. Just writing this article makes me want to watch one of the Green Acres shows, but not sure if it is even shown anywhere on TV today.

Sadly most of the cast is no longer with us. These are the main cast members and their birth and death years, with the alive cast members at the bottom:

Eddie Albert 1906-2005

Eva Gabor 1919-1995

Pat Buttram 1915-1994

Frank Cady 1915-2012….played Sam Drucker the grocery store owner

Alvy Moore 1921-1997

Hank Patterson 1888-1975….was 83  when show started and 87 when it ended

Sid Melton 1917-2011….portrayed Alf Monroe on the show. He also appeared in 93 episodes of Make Room For Daddy, in which he played Charley Halper. 

Mary Grace Canfield 1924-2014….was Ralph the wife of Alf on the show. She also played Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend on an episode of Andy Griffith. 

Tom Lester 1938-present….only surviving cast member of the show and is now 76 years old. 

 

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My Hometown: Growing Up In Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana is located across the Red River from Alexandria, Louisiana. It has a population of 14,555 according to the 2010 census.

Front of Alexandria Hall the main building at Louisiana College. 

Louisiana College where my father Dr. Paul R. Godfrey taught chemistry for 24 years was founded in 1906 and is now 108 years old. 

I was one year old, when our family moved to Pineville, Louisiana from West Lafayette, Indiana in 1946. Our first home was located on 110 Lawrence Boulevard if I remembered the correct house number. We later moved to 1608 Holloway Drive and then moved to 313 Burns Street in February of 1952.

We started attending College Drive Baptist Church on College Drive in Pineville in 1948. The church was originally comprised, of Army barrack buildings moved from Camp Livingston. I remember apple boxes being used as pews in the early days of the church, before the modern building shown in the photo was built. The church was founded in 1947 and is now 67 years old. I can remember driving home for supper one night and the Masters V gospel singing group had their bus in front of the church. This was when James Blackwood, Jake Hess, J.D. Sumner, Rosie Rozell and Hovie Lister comprised the Masters V. We attended College Drive for many years and I later led the music there, from 1997-2007, before we moved to Tennessee.

The home at 1608 Holloway Drive was unusual, in that our home was only separated by only a ditch, from the railroad track that ran next to us.

My first year at Pineville Elementary started in 1950 and remember walking to school, with my older brother for about a mile to school each day. I can still remember the 10 cent school lunch back then. The price has probably gone up over the years since then.

Moved To 313 Burns Street

I can remember living at 313 Burns Street. We had a cow, some sheep and chickens back then. It was like living on a farm inside the city limits.

Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey Dick Biondi once worked for KSYL in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Dick Biondi lived in the house behind us for a while, and he worked for KSYL radio station. He would later become famous, as a disc jockey in Chicago and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1998 and is now 82 years old. His main claim to fame is that he was the first disc jockey to play a Beatles song according to his Hall of Fame page. This is his Radio Hall of Fame page, which includes a very short clip of his radio program.

http://www.radiohof.org/dick_biondi.htm

 

I can remember going to see Roy Rogers dock his motorboat on the Red River and he stayed at Hotel Bentley.

Earl K. Long once gave away free chickens at a political rally at the Trailways station in Alexandria.

Faith Ford

Kelly Ripka and Faith Ford

The best nationally known person from Pineville would probably be Faith Ford. She attended Pineville High School many years after I attended there. She is best known for playing Corky on Murphy Brown television show. She also appeared in Hope and Faith.

The middle building is drugstore where we bought our prescriptions.

Veteran’s Hospital where I still go for medical services many years after this photo was taken.

Vincent Price

I can remember the time Vincent Price made an appearance at Louisiana College, with protesters carrying signs that were protesting him appearing in a liquor commercial.

This photo was taken from the Pineville side of the Red River, that was adjacent to Alexandria, Louisiana. The pedestrian walkers going across the bridge had to be careful, to see if there were any missing planks, to avoid falling into the river. I walked across the bridge for many years as I walked to job at the Alexandria Daily Town Talk. One time I was walking across the bridge to work early in the morning, when I was stopped by police and questioned by police, since a murder had just been committed at a night club in Alexandria. I convinced them I was not a murderer and they let me proceed on to work.I never saw the Red River look as blue as depicted in the photo.

I attended this school from 1950-1958 and it burned down in 1959.

I can remember finding out about the fire that night and rode my bike the mile to school. A Town Talk photographer had climbed up the fireman’s ladder, that was attached to the fire truck to get a photo looking down into the fire. I was a sophomore in high school the night of the fire. Had a lot of memories over the years at Pineville Elementary School and it was sad that the building only lasted one year after I started high school.

Summary:

68 years have passed since we first moved to Pineville in 1946. We used to ride our bikes out Highway 28, without encountering much traffic, but today Highway 28 is not the safest place to ride a bicycle, with so many businesses along the route now and many cars traverse Highway 28 today.

We left Pineville in 2007 to move to Tennessee, but it will always be home for us, since I spent most of my life here. It is the perfect size for me. Not too large and yet not too little. Pineville has a lot of businesses for a city of less than 15,000.

Maybe someday we can move back to Pineville. We do come back from time to time, for appointments at the Veteran’s Hospital. I have always been puzzled why the Veteran’s Hospital uses Alexandria as their address, when the buildings are in Pineville.

Thanks for the memories Pineville, since you will always be home to me.

 

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Classic Southern Gospel Quartets – The Blackwood Brothers

This record album was my favorite Blackwood Brothers album. It was released in 1964 and my favorite

songs on the album were I’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Road, The Old Country Church, God Made

                   A Way, In Times Like These and Precious Memories. I played this album so much I wore out grooves on

the record and had to order a new copy.

The Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus which can be found at the Southern Gospel Music Museum at Dollywood.

The original Blackwood Brothers quartet was formed 80 years ago in 1934. The group was founded in Choctaw County, Mississippi and some of the descendants of that group are stil singing, under the Blackwood Brothers Quartet name in 2014.

Roy Blackwood, James Blackwood, Doyle Blackwood and R.W. Blackwood was the original configuration for the Blackwood Brothers in 1934.

Tragedy For Blackwood Brothers in 1954

Tragedy struck the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, when two of its members R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed, in a plane crash on June 30, 1954. Cecil Blackwood would later replace R.W. Blackwood and J.D. Sumner replaced Bill Lyles as bass after the plane crash.

The Absolute Gospel website has an excellent article describing the accident and the aftermath:

http://absolutelygospel.com/index.php?/content/articles/3948

Trendsetters For Southern Gospel Innovations

The Blackwood Brothers were the first southern gospel group, to customize a bus for traveling to concerts.

They also founded the National Quartet Convention which started in 1957 and is still active 57 years later and is held every September.

James Blackwood 1919-2002

I was fortunate to see James Blackwood sing with the Blackwood Brothers many times over the years, when they performed in concerts in the Central Louisiana area. He was an excellent spokesman for the group, during their concerts and was one of my favorite Blackwood Brothers singers.

J.D. Sumner 1924-1998

J.D. Sumner is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records, as singing the lowest note ever sung. I remember in one Bill Gaither video, that he was singing a song, when the organist started to play faster, than Sumner wanted him to. The look he gave the organist was priceless. It may or may not have been a prank on Sumner, but if it was a prank it was not well received.

Two of my favorite Blackwood Brothers Quartet songs featuring Sumner were I’ve Got To Walk Than Lonesome Road and There’s A Light. 

J.D. Sumner on stage with Elvis Presley in 1976, which was a year before Elvis died.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet often toured with Elvis Presley. Still not sure if southern gospel was represented well during this time, since they were singing so much secular music during these years. J.D. Sumner gave credit to Elvis for helping him stop being an alcoholic. Shame J.D. couldn’t return the favor and convince Elvis to stop using drugs. Instead J.D. was more of an enabler and more or less discounted reports, that Elvis was a user, when he debunked those reports at the funeral for Elvis. That was before the extent of drug usage was known by the general public, but Sumner with his close proximity to Elvis probably knew exactly what Elvis was doing with drugs.

The golden era of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are long gone, but their music will live on for years to come. I have a collection of their music from the early days till later years on cassette. It is great to hear the gospel style singing and piano playing, that most of us grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.

James and J.D. and most of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet singers of the past are gone, but they will never be forgotten.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Classic Televison: Donna Reed Show

Donna Reed, Paul Petersen, Carl Betz and Shelly Fabares shown in a scene from the Donna Reed Show.

Donna Reed Show was one of the few family sitcoms, that featured the mother. The show debuted on September 24, 1958 and the last show aired on March 19, 1966.

Reed who was Donna Stone in the series was the wife of pediatrician Dr. Alex Stone played by Carl Betz. Paul Petersen who was Jeff Stone and Shelly Fabares portrayed Mary Stone in the series.

Donna Reed 1921-1986

Donna Reed

Donna Reed was born Donnabelle Mullenger on January 27, 1921 in Denison, Iowa. Her first movie role was in 1941, when she appeared in The Getaway. She would act in two other films that year.

1942 was a busy year for Reed, since she appeared in seven movies that year including The Courtship of Andy Hardy. She is remembered for co-starring with James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life in 1947, which has become a Christmas classic.

Reed would also appear in From Here To Eternity in 1953. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie.

Her first television appearance was in an episode of Ford Television Theatre in 1954. Reed appeared in six more movies and made appearances in three television shows, before she took the role of Donna Stone in the Donna Reed Show.

After the show ran from 1958-1966 she wouldn’t appear on-screen again, till 1979 when she appeared in a TV movie, which was named The Best Place To Be. Reed was last seen as Ellie Ewing in Dallas, in 1984 and 1985 before her death in 1986.

Donna Reed died of pancreatic  cancer on January 14, 1986 at the age of 64 in Beverly Hills, California.

Carl Betz 1921-1978

Carl Betz

Carl Lawrence Betz was born on March 9, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Betz portrayed Collie Jordan on the Love of Life soap opera in 1951 in his first television role. Betz would appear in his first credited movie The President’s Lady in 1953.

He then appeared in five more movies in 1953, then wouldn’t appear in another movie till 1966, when he appeared with Elvis Presley in Spinout. He had barely finished his last episode of the Donna Reed Show, when he was in the cast of Judd For The Defense from 1967-1969. He appeared in 50 episodes of the series as Clinton Judd. Betz appeared mostly in various television series till the end of 1977.

Betz also died of cancer on January 18, 1978 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 56.

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen was born as William Paul Petersen on September 23, 1945, in Glendale, California. Petersen recorded a song She Can’t Find Her Keys during the time he was on the Donna Reed Show. Petersen made his first television appearance at the age of 11 on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in 1956 in the Along the Oregon Trail episode.

He would appear in all 275 episodes of the Donna Reed Show and was the only one besides Donna Reed to appear in all the episodes filmed. He appeared in 83 more episodes than Shelley Fabares, who played his sister Mary.

Peterson appeared in numerous television series, after the show ended its run in 1966.

He will be seen in The Executive which is currently filming and Kathy Garver, who portrayed Cissy on Family Affair will also be in the cast.

The role of Jeff Stone later would cause Petersen much anguish, because he wasn’t being taken seriously, when looking for more mature roles. He had been an original Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 8 in 1955.

Petersen would start an organization named A Minor Consideration, which was a child actor support group.

When he couldn’t find work as an actor Mickey Rooney talked him into attending college.

This quote from Petersen explains why he became a child actor:

“I became a child actor because my mom was bigger than I was.”

Petersen was not happy when actor Bill Bixby took his wife: [on losing wife Brenda Benet to Bill Bixby] I was so angry I couldn’t see straight, and what doubled this pain was that Bill was really visible. You know, he was going great guns and I was going in the toilet.

He has reached out to many former child stars, who needed emotional support from someone like him, who had been under the same stress as they were experiencing.

It is hard to believe that the teenage Jeff Stone will be 70 next year.

Shelley Fabares

Shelley Fabares

Shelly Fabares was born as Michele Marie Fabares on January 19, 1944 in Santa Monica, California.

Fabares has 90 acting credits in her acting resume and continued to receive many acting roles, after Donna Reed Show had left the air.

She was in her first movie The Girl Rush in 1955 and also acted in three television series that year.

Her first major role was when she appeared in 15 episodes of Walt Disney Presents: Annette in 1958. That same year would see her appear in her first episode of the Donna Reed Show. She went straight from making her last appearance on the show in 1965 to appearing in three Elvis Presley movies. She appeared with Elvis in  Girl Happy in 1965, Spinout in 1966, and was also in his 1967 movie Clambake.

Then she appeared in 47 episodes of the Brian Keith Show which aired from 1974-1976. Fabares would appear in 27 episodes of The Practice 1976-1977. She would appear in One Day At A Time 1978-1984 in 23 episodes.

Coach would be her next big show, in which she appeared in all 198 episodes from 1989-1997.

Since then Fabares has acted very infrequently with mostly voice roles since then. Her only acting job since 1997 was Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie (TV Movie) which was shown in 1998, so she has not been seen on a television or movie screen in the last 16 years.

She was married to record producer Lou Adler from 1964-1980, then married Mike Farrell of M

She is the niece of actress/comedienne Nanette Fabray who is now 93 years old.

Fabares would have a #1 Billboard hit with Johnny Angel.

One of her major movie roles was in Brian’s Song 1971 when she appeared as the wife of Brian Piccolo.

Carl Betz portrayed her father on both the Donna Reed Show and in the movie Spinout.

 

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