Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on Radio and TV

Michael Hayde’s latest book, Side by Side: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on TV and Radio, fills in a gap that most biographers tend to overlook – their radio career.
His mother introduced him to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis when they watched Jumping Jacks(1952) on television one afternoon in the early 1970s. “They were much funnier on The Colgate Comedy Hour,” she remarked. That sparked a lovely conversation that planted the seed for Hayde’s love and appreciation for their careers.
In an era where most biographers are preoccupied with the motion-pictures and their bitter breakup, the comedians’ radio and television program have largely gone overlooked or – at best – documented through observations of viewing the programs and listening to the recordings.
Die-hard fans will agree that Martin and Lewis were at their best on the weekly television comedy, and the radio program flopped at first until the fall of 1951 when the same script writers of the television series began writing the radio scripts. (Anyone who listens to those 1950 radio broadcasts and compares them to the 1951-1954 broadcasts will agree as well.)
That is the beauty of Michael Hayde’s book – he fills in the gap that has been overlooked. Heavily researched, with details from salary costs and recorded interviews, Hayde corrects a number of errors that appear in other books and sets the record straight. 
Anyone who has a copy of Michael’s other books (DragnetCharlie ChaplinThe Adventures of Superman) know how well he writers and how far he digs into the archives.  Looking for a Christmas gift? You can buy a copy of the book today at www.bearmanormedia.com

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hopalong Cassidy Meets Judy Canova

As an early holiday gift to everyone, here is the December 24, 1949 broadcast of THE JUDY CANOVA SHOW from a direct disc transfer. 

And the best part? Hopalong Cassidy meets Judy Canova!

1949 was a busy year for Canova. She turned down an offer to perform in a traveling circus but made a large number of public appearances on stage, nudged producer Joe Rines into taping her radio program in advance (rather than broadcast live), signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish the biography of famous relatives to be titled, "A Collection of Canovas," played on stage at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, broke records at the El Cajon Country Fair in San Diego, was mulling over plans for a kiddie album for Decca Records for which she would sing and narrate, and in November she was talking with the Ted Bates Agency regarding making the transition from radio to television in the coming season.

Her radio program was cancelled officially in June of 1949 by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet as a result of the sponsor's insistence that television provided a platform for better promotion, and with the belief that Canova was more of a visual act, but in July she agreed to a renewal for a weekly budget of $8,500. Prior to that her program cost $11,500 per week. Canova realized that without weekly exposure her motion-pictures (including movies being re-issued in theaters courtesy of Republic Pictures) would have less draw appeal. This required Canova to strike deals with Hollywood actors in lieu of a performance fee, helping to maintain budget control.

In early December 1949, William Boyd agreed to appear as a guest on her weekly radio program. Boyd had recently invested his own funds to produce a weekly syndicated radio program of Hopalong Cassidy and the actor wanted to cross-promote through celebrity guest appearances. But then something happened... Behind the scenes Canova's office was besieged with ticket requests, mostly from youngsters. This put her into a tough spot since NBC would not allow children under 14 to enter the studio and view the show. I have not been able to find anything pertaining to whether or not NBC granted an exception but try to hear the sounds of children in the audience when you listen to the broadcast.

In case someone is curious about the count: there is an official list of 78 episodes of The Judy Canova Show known to exist in collector hands, while seven additional episodes supposedly exist. I say "supposedly" because every couple years the broadcast dates for those seven recordings, including this Christmas Eve 1949 broadcast, were made public and multiple people crawl out of the woodwork claiming they have a copy. Multiple people provided a photo image of the disc label, but never provided a recording for various reasons: "No one wants to listen to Judy Canova these days..." or "My asking price is $800 if you want to hear the recording." I doubt Canova's name was the motif behind the ransom prices, but rather William Boyd's continued appeal to baby boomers. When half a dozen people over the years claim to have a recording but no one is willing to prove it, we have to take such claims with a grain of salt.

Anyway, about a year ago a transcription disc was put for auction and noticing it was the Holy Grail of the seven "supposedly existing" episodes, with no hesitation I bought the disc and had a friend do the transfer to digital. Now the official count is 79.