Old Movies, Old Song Hits, Old Radio and TV Programs
I received a call a couple of years ago asking me to participate in a Nielson ratings survey. I asked what it was about, and the lady explained that they would send me a booklet in the mail into which I was to record my TV viewing for a week. I thought to myself, Boy, they’re in for a surprise when they discover that the only television station I spend very much time viewing is Turner Classic Movies. I’m an old movies fan.
I like that channel for two reasons. I like the older movies, especially those of the 1930s, ‘40s, 50.s, and some, 60s. The other reason being, I’m not subjected to an endless barrage of commercials. I realize commercials are necessary, but please, there is a limit to what one can endure. Six or seven minutes of straight commercials with a maximum of six minutes of programming in between, is a bit much.
But I digress. Back to my original thought. A while back I had the opportunity to watch my old vocal mentor from afar, Bing Crosby and his partner, Bob Hope, in a couple of their many “road” pictures. Legend has it that these two guys drove their directors to distraction with their zany antics. They were known for being quick witted adlibbers. Consequently, it wasn’t long after shooting started, that the script went out the window, and the directors pulled at their hair while uttering the phrase, “what’s the use.”
It is said Dorothy Lamour was very conscientious about learning her lines. The first time she worked with Bing and Bob, not wanting to look like an amateur, she made sure she knew all her lines verbatim. The first day of shooting was very frustrating for Ms. Lamour, because she kept waiting for cues that never came. Bing finally took her aside and told her to just listen to the dialogue and jump in wherever she found an appropriate opening. In other words, just simply join in and take part in the conversation that was taking place. So, I guess that’s how the shooting on most of those road movies went. Bing had some of his biggest hit records from those movies also.
Some old radio shows also come to mind. Comedies like the Jack Benny show, the Bob Hope show, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, and many more.Lux Radio Theater was my favorite drama. They took the hit movies of the day and condensed them down to a one-hour radio broadcast. It was on every Monday night, and was sponsored by Lever Brothers Lux bath soap and Lux Flakes.
Remember the old radio show the Hit Parade? Every week they would perform the top ten hit tunes beginning with number ten and working up to number one. I used to make wagers with my parents as to which song would be number one that week. Being a huge Bing Crosby fan, I usually won, because it seemed every time he stepped up to the post to record, he had a hit. There is a big hype these days about Elvis and how many records he sold, but I think Bing still holds that lifetime record(and if you index it to the population of the two artists’ eras and the number of households with phonographs or playing devices, I think Crosby is way out front). Seems I read somewhere that his recording of White Christmas alone has sold more than 300 million copies, and is still selling.
Later the radio version of the Hit Parade moved to TV and spent many successful years there also. Then there was the Bell Telephone Hour on TV; an hour of glorious music; and it only had one sponsor—Bell Telephone Co. How many remember that?
Oh, how I long for the days when you could watch a TV program or listen to one on the radio, with three or four commercials in the entire show–and all for the same product. The commercials were quite often worked into the show and were almost as entertaining as the show itself. Oh…well, gone are the days.
In the meantime, while you’re here, and if you like nostalgia, why not jump over to upper right of this page to the free download button and click there for a free copy(while they last) of the prologue and first three adventures of Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. They may trigger some childhood adventures of your own.