Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sky King : Saturday Mornings

One of the very first TV shows I remember watching as a kid was Sky King, Saturday mornings at noon. I recently watched a few episodes on DVD and enjoyed them very much - simple but effective early TV dramas with a western feel mostly shot on location in Southern California.

Based on a popular radio series, Sky King remains one of the most watchable of the 1950's kid shows with relatively realistic dramatic storylines that work thanks in large part to stoic star Kirby Grant who really gives it his all. Sadly, the show's rarely been seen since the 1960s.

Here's what Wiki says: The television show began airing on Sunday afternoons on NBC between September 16, 1951, and October 26, 1952. These episodes were rebroadcast on ABC's Saturday morning lineup the following year November 8, 1952, until September 21, 1953, when it made its prime-time debut on ABC's Monday night lineup. It then aired twice-a-week in August and September 1954, before ABC canceled it. New episodes were produced when the show went into syndication in 1955. The last new episode, "Mickey's Birthday", aired March 8, 1959. After that, the show turned up on the Saturday schedule, in reruns that played for several years.

Here's an entire episode of Sky King from season 2:

More on Sky King!

Johnny Otis talks Screaming Jay Hawkins, Dinah Washington

This is from 1984. I called in to Johnny ('Hand Jive') Otis' radio program, a phenomenal weekly show where he played Blues, gospel, R&B recordings and the like. I can't believe how meeeeellloooow I sounded then.

I asked Johnny about the legendary Dinah Washington, one of my fave performers. At the time I had no access to any info on her. Imagine my surprise at his answer.

Johnny told me later about Dinah Washington taking Little Eva out for an afternoon. Otis was horrified when they returned and Eva, a sweet innocent young girl, was all painted up like a whore and dressed like a tramp with Dinah laughing hysterically at the whole scene.

The SJH concert Johnny Otis talked about was at Madame Wong's not Club Lingerie, I was wrong.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sammy & Company : The Rat Packer's 1970s Daytime Talk Show

So many entertainers had variety and talk shows in the 1970s, many people don't know that Sammy Davis Jr. had a weekday syndicated program in the same vein as Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore.

The video won't embed but here's a link to an interview from Sammy & Company with another legendary singer, Minnie Ripperton.

Filmed from Vegas and Harrah's Lake Tahoe with orchestra leader George Rose, Sammy & Company never caught on and was gone after two seasons (1975-1977) but what a groovy DVD release that could be. This was Sammy at his peak and there were a wealth of guest stars to provide fascinating television.

Chita Rivera, Richard Pryor, Lola Falana, Wayne Newton and dozens of other casino entertainers appeared. I don't recall but doubt that fellow Rat Packers Dean & Frank ever appeared. Perhaps this series was a bit too Vegas-style for middle America, too nighttime for the daylight.

It didn't air in the area I grew up in, maybe Sammy being black made some Southern stations hesitant to pick the show up. But for two years the television eye captured an immortal entertainer at his peak hosting a wealth of amazing guest stars, let's hope the tapes survived.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Be a Jewish Son - Mel Brooks really runs with it!

Check out this amazing article about David Susskind -  and here's video from Susskind's legendary sit-down with Mel Brooks, David Steinberg, George Segal and others on—How to Be a Jewish Son. Fantastic!