Showing posts with label Bing Crosby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bing Crosby. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26: Happy Birthday, Peggy Lee

Al Jolson, John Wayne, and Peggy Lee were all born on May 26. For Lee, it was 1920, in Jamestown, ND. Lee is celebrated as a gifted songstress who brought to life such hits as Fever, Why Don't You Do Right? and Elmer's Tune. 

Lee sang in Benny Goodman's orchestra from 1941 til 1943 before moving on to a solo recording career and roles in several hit films. She would then win a Grammy in 1969 for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for her song "Is That All There Is?"

Naturally, Ms. Lee spent her share of time on the radio, appearing on Bing Crosby's Philco Radio Time many a time, as well as Crosby's Chesterfield Presents the Bing Crosby Show. She also appeared in many sustaining broadcasts.

Lee contributed to the world of music as a bombastic vocalist, a shining star of the Big Band Era.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14: Burl Ives

Whether it was his irascible personality in various motion pictures or as an animated host for playful reindeer, people instantly knew who Burl Ives was. Mr Ives had the voice that played to the radio audience because of its intrinsic calming quality and valued variance of intonation. Born June 14 of 1909, Burl Ives captured the American stage, movie and radio enclave with an almost operatic enhancement. One could say his first public performance was of him singing to a group of old soldiers. His uncle asked him to sing before the group and immediately his talents were noticed.

His early days had him partnered with the Boy Scouts of America as a spokesman and a former scout. Radio was a big part of Burl Ives, beginning with his first 1940’s radio program called The Wayfaring Stranger, where Ives first heard the news of WWII. Mr Ives continued to work on radio guest-starring on programs such as Bing Crosby, Martin and Lewis and Command Performance. He continued to parlay his hand with folk music, becoming part of the “The Almanacs”. As the war with Germany was going on, Burl Ives and his group could be seen around the country supporting the war effort and urging Americans to stay strong.

In 1947, Ives paired with the Andrews Sisters to record for Decca Records and held for weeks one of the highest selling recordings of the day. Although cleared of any communist sympathies, Burl Ives had to face the charges during the 1950s.

During this period, and into the 60’s, Mr Ives performed in various motion pictures. Into the 90’s, he was a great lover and performer of country music, stay involved in films and lent his voice to animated characters. He is probably most remembered as the host snowman for the classic , “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer”. Burl Ives was married twice and one son.

In 1995 he passed away from complications dealing with oral cancer. It has always been a well-known belief that Burl Ives personified joy and happiness in everything he did...and lived.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9, 2013: Happy Birthday Les Paul


If you are a guitarist and know what a “lick” or a “trill” is, than you undoubtedly know Les Paul. Les Paul, born in 1915, is the world’s most renown guitarist to date and influenced the work of many of the big names of today. In fact, Les Paul had an influence on guitars as the inventor of the full-body electric guitar. His playing style formula surpassed the guitarists of the day and drove towards innovations, such as the overlay of sound upon sound. In 1934, Paul got involved in radio with an interest in piano, but that changed and he became fascinated with the arena of the guitar. His jazz style drove him to form a band and he got a gig on Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians radio program.

During the 1940’s Paul had opportunity to perform with some of the big names like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole  People were becoming more familiar with the music man and his variations on the traditional way of play. What was not lost was that Les Paul stepped out from the norm and created instruments that transitioned into the rock and roll realm of instrumental resonance. In the course of his life Les Paul was married twice and had four children, plus one adopted. His second wife, Mary Ford, became a part of his on-air presence when he hosted the Les Paul Show for NBC. Later, he moved the program from radio to television and renamed it the Les Paul and Mary Ford Show. Les Paul died in 2009 from complications with pneumonia.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 1905:Happy Birthday, William Gargan


William (Bill) Gargan was born July 17, 1905. He would become one of America's most prolific choices for playing the tough private detective. Whether it was on the screen or radio, Gargan made an impression of the tough Irishman. Gargan’s on stage and screen work, in a way, resembled his activities in true life. After he finished school, Gargan dealt with bootleg whiskey during the Prohibition years.

 Later he got a job with a detective agency which may have added color to his years as a performer of law and crime. Truth of that fact played into one of his most popular portrayals, as Martin Kane, Private Eye. This ran from 1949-1951 on both radio and television. NBC radio brought gargan over to a similar radio detective from 1951-1955. This character was Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator.  In the Craig persona he narrated much of the radio series, adding extra color to the program.

The names may have changed but his performances of the tough determined detectives definitely carried similar impact. Many people will remember his as the affable Joe Gallagher on the Bells of St. Mary’s with Bing Crosby. His irish background added considerable effect to his many characters. He continued to perform over the years until 1960 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer and his larynx was removed. He passed away on 1973 while on a flight across country.

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26: Happy Birthday Al Jolson


Al Jolson was one of the most famous Broadway performers of his day. He was spontaneous and daring, improvising at will and giving audiences long segments of his song and dance stylings. He is, of course, known to history for his blackface routines, which have suffered disrepute, widely considered racist.

Jolson's early alter ego, was Gus, a wily underdog who survived on his wits. Jolson played Gus in such revues as "The Honeymoon Express" and "Dancing Around."

Off stage, Jolson was known to bet on the ponies and on boxers. He was known for his volatile personality.

Jolson lit up the radio airwaves with appearances on Bing Crosby's Chesterfield Show and Kraft Music Hour. He also had a brief run with his own Al Jolson Show.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3: Happy Birthday, Bing Crosby


A stirrer of the imagination, a soother of souls, a gentle and loyal companion, Bing Crosby is a crooner for all-time, a superstar of the twentieth century. Known for his songs "White Christmas," "Surrender Dear," and "Sweet Leilani," the baritone was called "the most admired man alive" by Yank magazine.

From 1935-'43, Crosby appeared regularly on Kraft Music Hall. He also made many appearances on Command Performance and Philco Radio Time. These performances, in addition to showcasing his now-legendary vocal skills, allowed him to work with the biggest names of the day, including Peggy Lee, Boris Karloff, Al Jolson, Groucho Marx, and Fred Astaire.

The story has it that his nickname Bing (he was born Harry) came from his infatuation with the comic strip Bingville Bugle.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10: Happy Birthday, Fred Astaire


"Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." So read the RKO screen test of none other than...Lassie! No, not really. We're talking about today's birthday boy, Fred Astaire, who soft-shoed into the world today, 1899.

Astaire went into the world of dance with his older sister on the Vaudeville circuit. By 1917 the duo was appearing in big-time musicals on both sides of the Big Pond. Fortunately for all of us, his sister married a British aristocrat and decided there'd be no more professional dancing for her. This left the little brother to re-invent his career. He landed work in a Cole Porter musical, Gay Divorce. From there--failed screen test aside--it was on to celluloid.

As far as the world of radio, in 1936 he hosted the Packard Hour, whose colloquial name was "The Fred Astaire Show." He also graced Bing Crosby's variety program late in his career. Let's salute Fred Astaire!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7: Happy Birthday, Gary Cooper


Lux Radio Theater was one of the chief homes of the radio work of Western film star Gary Cooper. On the legendary program, he starred in adaptations of his hit films "The Virginian," "The Pride of the Yankees," and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington."

Mr. Cooper lent his talents to Screen Guild Theater with adaptations of "Sergeant York," "A Farewell to Arms," and "Along Came Jones."

In 1947, the actor appeared on The Charlie McCarthy Show. In the same year, he also graced Philco Radio Time, hosted by Bing Crosby. The debonair screen star showed that he could shine on more than one medium. Let's give props to the star, born on this day in 1901.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 10: Happy Birthday, Jimmy Durante

February 10: Happy Birthday, Jimmy Durante


Actor, personality, voice-over expert and owner of a famous "schnozzola," Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893. Jimmy's calling card was his raspy, urbane voice. He hosted the Durante-Moore Show with partner Garry Moore and went solo with The Jimmy Durante Show in 1947. "Dat's my boy dat said dat!" was a catchphrase on the first iteration of the program.

Like many shows of the era, The Jimmy Durante Show featured comedy and music. Do you remember guest appearances by: Lucille Ball, Victor Moore, Bing Crosby, and Al Jolson?

After his radio career, Durante voiced the Narrator of the 1969 cartoon special "Frosty the Snowman." He died in Santa Monica on Jan. 29, 1980.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 6: Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan

February 6: Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan

Inventing the cotton gin was one of the only things Ronald Reagan didn't do. The actor, governor, and president actually began his career as a radio announcer.

It all began for Dutch Reagan in 1932 when WOC from Davenport, Iowa needed someone to call
the Iowa-Minnesota homecoming football game. He moved on to WHO , a Des Moines NBC affiliate.

Known for sprinkling some humor into his presidential communiques, Reagan honed his comic style, in addition to his television appearances, on the radio. As he became a relatively big name on the tube, he began, as many TV stars did, appearing on some of the big radio shows. His appearance on Lux Radio Theatre teamed him future wife Jane Wyman for an adaptation of Nobody Lives Forever. The Gipper also guested on The Bing Crosby Show, The Burns and Allen Show, Suspense, and Colgate Sports Newsreel.

Later, The Great Communicator would broadcast many presidential speeches.  Reagan was born Feb. 6, 1911 and died June 5, 2004.

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14: Happy Birthday, Spike Jones!


Spike Jones was born December of 1911, but that is not all that there is about this talent of early radio. Besides he being an accomplished bandleader, Jones also inspired a satirical approach to his music by incorporating sound effect into the score. Spike Jones and His City Slickers were hugely renowned as the king of music jocularity. By adding cowbells and catcalls, Jones developed a musical blend and comedy routine that shook the rafters of wherever their venue. His group was especially big during the 1940’s and 50’s. Lindley “Spike” Jones gained his famous nickname because he resembled a railroad spike as a lanky and skinny individual. The sound effect addition came as a result of his youth when he was taught the “art” of pots and pans as added noise makers. He performed on Bing Crosby;’s first recording of White Christmas. Spike gained a radio following when he performed , The Chase and Sanborn Program, for NBC. As Edgar Bergen’s summer replacement, Jones grew in notoriety as more Americans had the opportunity to hear his talent. Mel Torme and Burl Ives were just a couple of the many guest stars that came onto his radio program over a 2-year period. Unfortunately, for America Spike’s life was cut short at the age of 53 when he passed away from emphysema. He may have moved on, but not his legacy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10: Happy Birthday, Dorothy Lamour

December 10: Happy Birthday, Dorothy Lamour


Dorothy Lamour was born in Louisiana in 1914, as Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton. Known as “Dottie” to many of her friends, Miss Lamour maintained an illustrious career as a leading lady and was constantly being sought after by the major studios. Her classical beauty came as a benefit to her in 1931, when she was crowned Miss New Orleans. Many of her famous performances carried through as the beauteous jungle girl or third part of the “On the Road” movie triangle with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Her voice was an asset as well, having sang alongside notables Rudy Vallee and her husband Herbie Kaye. On the radio, she hosted NBC’s “Sealtest Variety Theatre” during the late 40’s. One thing that could be said about Miss Lamour was her ability to spellbind a crowd and that paid in huge dividends for the war effort during the 1940’s raising over 300 million in bonds. Into her later years, Dorothy Lamour still carried herself with dignity and grace as a performer and humanitarian. The world lost her talents in 1996 when she suffered a heart attack. Dottie is one of those enigma’s in the entertainment world that continues to make us laugh, cry or simply swoon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3: Happy Birthday, Connee Boswell

One of the Boswell sisters, Connee Boswell was also a favorite duet partner of Bing Crosby. After forging great fame with her sisters and forging a reputation as one of the great jazz singers, Connee began hosting the Connee Boswell Show in 1944.

The show was Broadcast "from the heart of Broadway...to you," and sponsored by Eversharp Schick Injector Razors.

However, radio listeners also enjoyed Boswell's many appearances on Maxwell House Coffee's "Good News." She appeared more than a dozen times from 1938-1940, on shows also including Lucille Ball, Walter Huston and Louis B. Mayer.

Connee Boswell  would remain friends with Bing Crosby  and would appear on television with him near the end of her career, in the 60's and 70's. She died in New York on Oct. 11, 1976. She will be remembered for entertaining Americans with her hit songs "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," and "Moon Over Miami."