About Me

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I try to find enjoyment in life's simple things: friends & family, gardening, nature, home projects, etc. The television and radio are generally silent appliances in my home. But sometimes we all need a little help outside of ourselves to lift our hearts with laughter or a song. In my house, that often means switching on "Golden Age" radio shows, classic television or film, or simply turning to a good old-fashioned book.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Handel's Messiah, Online

I was listening to a Vintage Christmas Music Station just a little while ago, and stopped to realize that I was listening to Neil Diamond singing words to Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." Neil Diamond with a faint brush of disco in the instrumentals, singing "And He shall reign forever and ever. . . . King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." (Did he know something of the Mystery he sang?)

Ah, but Handel's lyrics are so wonderfully to the point, and not having my old cassette of the entire concert at hand, I went scrounging for a public domain version.

"And the Glory. . . " from "The Messiah" by George Friedrich Handel, The Choir of the King's College, Cambridge.

MIT Chamber Chorus

Royal Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham, conducting. Recorded 1959.

Comfort Ye My People, Jon Vickers, RPO, Beecham. Recorded 1959.

The Entire Concert of Handel's Messiah as presented on "Friday Night at the Opera" on KXPR Capital Public Radio, Sacromento, 18 Dec 2009.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Radio Listening Log - Danny Kaye on The Jack Benny Show

The Jack Benny Show, "The Life Story of Jack Benny", May 28, 1944

Performers: Guest: Danny Kaye
Regulars: Jack Benny, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Mary Livingstone, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, Dennis Day
Content: Jack and Mary run into Danny Kaye when they go to Warner Brother's offices to talk about plans for a new motion picture on Jack's life. Danny Kaye explains what one learns about acting from the great "Stanislavsky."
Comments: This is Danny Kaye's first appearance on the Jack Benny Show. Writer Milt Josephberg later wrote about how highly Jack and Danny thought of each other. Benny Show writers often picked up on an exaggerated the truth such as this for the script.

A variation on the Warner Brother's Office skit was also performed by Jack, Danny, and Dinah Shore for the Armed Forces Radio Network's "Mail Call" on February 2, 1945 .

References: "Wilkie" - Wendell Wilkie withdrew from the 1944 presidential race on April 5, after being defeated in the Wisconsin Republican primary. Wilkie had been the Republican candidate who unsuccessfully ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940.

Paul Lukas won the 1943 Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Watch on the Rhine.

The Jack Benny Show, "The Kid from Brooklyn", April 28, 1946

Performers: Guest: Danny Kaye
Regulars: Jack Benny, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Mary Livingstone, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Mel Blanc
Content: The cast walks home after viewing Danny Kaye's latest motion picture, "The Kid from Brooklyn" and eventually run into Danny on the way. Later, at home, Jack is visited by four ghosts, including one from one of Danny's earlier pictures.
Comments: Listen closely to hear Jack having a hard time keeping from laughing when Danny Kaye performs. The two have a lot of fun doing this show. Danny performs "Concerto for Tongue and Orchestra." A good, solid Benny Show. (Sadly, a few lines appear to be missing, ostensibly in the transition between recording disks, and other static and additional recording problems mar the recording.)

References: "Mr. Miland" must refer to actor Ray Miland who earned an Academy Award earlier that year for his performance as an alcoholic in the movie The Lost Weekend.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Radio Listening Log - The New Swan Show

The New Swan Show (Bob Hope), November 7, 1948
Performers: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Les Brown and His Band
Content: Bob jokes; Doris does a nice rendition of "My Darling, My Darling" with Les Brown and His Band; Bob and Bing have fun trying to out-do each other with clever insults then with a skit with outlandish German accents.
Comments: I don't typically find it amusing to hear insults hurled back and forth, but here Bing and Bob are too busy laughing at the writers' attempts to come up with more and more outlandish digs back and forth. The "insults" land on the superficial and nonconsequential--and are too ridiculous to take seriously.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Radio Listening Log - Tovarich (Lux Radio Theater)

Lux Radio Theater presents Tovarich, May 15, 1939
Performers: William Powell, Miriam Hopkins, C Henry Gorden, Heather Thatcher, 
Content: Exiled Russian nobility face poverty with a charming mix of good humor and determination to earn and enjoy simple blessings.  
Comments: A slightly slow start, but the couple turns out to be a delightful pair sharing a worthy, happy hour with us.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"South America, Take it Away" - Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

From the Billboard top 30 of 1946, this is one of my favorites for adding in a little dance while doing house or kitchen work--or maybe for a quick mental pick-me-up break at work:

Listen right now with this player, or click here to download the mp3 free from Archive.org.

Aren't those lyrics fun? No love stories here. Just clever twists and rhymes as the singers lament how the newly popular Latin dancing styles are causing such difficulty in their lives.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters Perform

"South America, Take It Away," written by Harold Rome, was first introduced in the post-World War II Broadway revue "Call Me Mister," which opened in the National Theater on April 18, 1946.1 It was the lament of a canteen hostess, performed by Betty Garrett and preserved for us in this photo by Life Magazine.2, 3 Unlike the Andrews Sisters, in the original lyrics, she declares:
"To put it plainly,
I'm tired of shakin'
my Pan American can."

I recall a "Jack Benny Show" radio episode in which they worked in Mary Livingstone humming or singing snatches of this. If I find it, I'll post the link.

Desi Arnaz, whose trademark "Babalu " is referenced in the popular Crosby and Andrews Sisters' recording, made his own musical comedy response, "I'll Take the Rhumba."5 Here he provides his own demonstrations of both rhumba and jive, in both song and dance, and bids the viewer to consider which one is really more harmful to the back:

In addition to referencing "South America, Take Me Away," Arnaz also seems to be parodying "Minnie the Moocher," "Open the Door, Richard," and the scat-singing of American performers popular at the time (possibly Danny Kaye in particular, or perhaps others?). Do you recognize any more? If so, please share below.

Acknowledgements, References, and Additional Links

1Stanley Green, Broadway Musicals, Show by Show,5th ed., Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, WI, 1996, p. 129.

2"'Call Me Mister,' Broadway's Biggest Revue Hit is Written and Performed by Ex-GI's," Life Magazine, May 27, 1946, p.131-137.

3My thanks go to Wordpress blogger Songbook1 for pointing out originating musical and the related Life Magazine photograph.

4This is the Army / Call Me Mister / Winged Victory (Original Cast Album), Decca Broadway

5Special thanks go to Nelson Guirado for bringing Desi Arnaz's response to light in his Cubanocast Blog, "The Swing-Rhumba war of 1945: Desi, Bing, Laverne, Patti, and Maxine," January 3, 2009. You can check out his blog for his (presumably) tongue-in-cheek commentary on this "war," as well as links to an album recording of Arnaz' "I'll Take the Rhumba."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eve Arden in "Stage Door" (1937)

Yesterday evening's viewing started as one of those chance stumbles. I really don't remember what I was looking over at YouTube when I was provided with a side-link to Eve Arden's appearance on "What's My Line. "

What a classy lady. Simultaneously elegant and down-to-earth. (I think she mentions at the end something about living on a farm?)
I know Eve Arden more for her radio work than screen appearances. My mother enjoyed listening to "Our Miss Brooks" in the radio years, before the popular show transitioned to television. It was among the first series I listened to when Golden Age Radio began to become widely available online.

My favorite "Our Miss Brooks" radio episode comes from 24 April 1954: "Cow in the Closet:"

I had heard Eve Arden in support roles on various other radio shows, though, oddly enough, I never sampled radio's "The Danny Kaye Show" until just a few months ago. Likewise, I was unaware of her earlier film and theater work until just recently, so I did not realize how such previous roles had set the stage for the sardonically wisecracking Miss Connie Brooks.
Eve Arden and Ginger Rogers in Stage Door - 1937 Apparently her supporting role in "Stage Door" (1937) was largely responsible for garnering her attention and for setting the pattern for so many of her future roles.

She is shown here with Ginger Rogers and the ever-present cat who was so accommodating in working with her throughout the picture.

That cat was a wonderful device for her part, drawing visual attention and interest to her character. I think it also helped communicate a softer, well-intentioned heart beneath the wisecracks.
Arden is not listed among the opening credits of "Stage Door," but Lucille Ball is.

I have to laugh at myself. I noticed Ms. Ball's name in the opening credits, but then didn't recognize her throughout the entire movie and forgot to look for her! In fact, I kept scrutinizing her, thinking how "that young actress" reminded me so much of another young actress who came much later, in the late 1980's.
Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball in Stage Door (1937)

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Oh, By Jingo (Oh By Gee, You're the Only Girl for Me)"

"All the By-Goshes, with hearts down to their galoshes!"

I found this song while working late one night. Maybe it was my mood at the time, but I was hooked! I purchased an mp3 and was singing and humming this for a week, dancing along while doing housework.

Performed by Danny Kaye and an unknown "Male Quartet," circa 1948:
(Be ready with "boom chik-a, boom chik-a" if you want to sing along.)

I love how you can actually hear Danny Kaye smiling as he sings the end of the first chorus.

The cleaned-up version which I downloaded from Amazon.com is incredible; it sounds like you are standing right there with the singers at the microphone. I highly recommend it.

Scroll down for lyrics and more renditions from "Jeeves and Wooster," Spike Jones, etc.

"Oh, By Jingo (Oh, By Gee, You're the Only Girl for Me)"

1919 Original by Lew Brown / Al Von Tilzer
These lyrics [and improvisations in brackets] are transcribed from the 1949 Brunswick recording by Danny Kaye and Male Quartet, Directed by Vic Schoen.
The second verse is a substitution from the 1919 original and not found in recordings by others. (It sounds like the work of Sylvia Fine, but that is just a surmise on my part.)

In the land of San Domingo
Lived a girl called Oh-By-Jingo.

[Hoh - bow - do-oh-du-lee-dee-oh-bow--wow]
[boom chik-a, boom chik-a, boom chik-a, boom chik]
From the fields and from the marshes
Came the old and young By-Goshes

[Oh - la - ha- luka-taka-saka-maki--laka ma ]
[boom chik-a, boom chik-a, boom chik-a, boom chik]
Though they spoke a different lingo.
They all loved Oh-By-Jingo
And every night They sang in the pale moon light:

"Oh by Gee, by Gosh, by Gum, by Jove!
[Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo.]
Oh By Jingo, won't you hear our love?
[Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo.]
We will build for you a hut.
You will be our favorite nut.
We'll have a lot of little Oh-By-Gollies,
Then we'll put them all in the Follies.
[-] By-Jingo said by Gosh, by Gee,

[Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo, Kitchy-koo.]
[oh] By Jiminy please don't bother me. [Don't bother me.]
So they all went away singing oh by Gee,
By Gosh, by Gum, by Jove, by Jingo,
Oh, By-Jiminy you're the girl for me!"
{original: "By Gee, You're the only girl for me.}
Home they went with spirits wilted
On account of they were jilted

[All the By-Goshes, with hearts down to their galoshes!]
All winter long they brooded-- That is, all but very few did.
[They left to join a fan club for Lana Toyn-a.] [1]
The rest wrote to Beatrice Fairfax [2]
Got the how-to-make-him-care facts
So came the spring
They sailed once more to sing:

"Oh by Gee, by Gosh, by Gum, by Jove!
Oh by Jiminy you're the one we love!
We will build for you a hut.
You will be our favorite nut.
Then we'll have a bunch of Oh-By-Gollies
And we'll put them all in the Follies
[Oh] By Gee, by Gosh, by . . .
[improv segment]

By Jiminy you're the one for me!"

[1] Lana Turner
[2] Beatrice Fairfax was the "Dear Abby" of New York papers at the turn of the 1900's and at least from 1929 until 1945.

For you "Jeeves and Wooster" fans, their rendition:

Spike Jones and his Band have a surprisingly nice rendition, provided here courtesy of Archive.org. Play it on the ribbon player below, or download the mp3 here:

Below is a ragtime piano version, with Tom Brier & Adam Swanson jamming late night at The Annual Blind Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival (date unknown):

Let me know if you find any of these fun!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Intentions for this Blog Space

You have stumbled onto my new blog before I have even had a chance to move beyond this first post!  This area is definitely under construction.

I am hoping to use this blog as a space where I can discuss some of the vintage media which I am enjoying, to compile some of the link lists and assorted facts I've brought together, and to share these with others.  Perhaps others can answer some of my questions, too, or share their own thoughts.

I'm currently enjoying Danny Kaye's work, listening to his radio recordings and viewing his movies in chronological order.  To quote Hedda Hopper, "Wow!"  I'm still in his 1940's work--except for some of his recorded albums and television clips courtesy of YouTube.  No rush.  I'm enjoying this like a good meal:  chewing slowly and savoring every bite!

Most of my vintage media experience is with Golden Age Radio comedy and variety shows, which, in turn, have introduced me to more stars and songs of the late 1930's through the 1950's, and thus sent me back to classic movies and early television.