Jack Benny and Dad

jack bennyJack Benny was in the top five of all-time show business personalities. As a kid in the late 1950’s and early 60’s , I watched his tv show and laughed like everyone else. Jack was beloved by all his peers which is unusual in a competitive world. His stage persona was that of a vain cheapskate. This was a scriptwriter’s dream and it did him well for close to sixty years. He died in 1974 at the age of eighty after pretending to be 39 for so many years.

My father celebrated his own eightieth birthday in October, 2002 by falling down and breaking both ankles. He had just left his car and had walked up the stairs to his townhouse. Once inside, he tripped in the foyer and that was that. Somehow my mother helped him into a chair and she called me to come over. I did and it was in the late evening time. A private ambulance service brought him to the hospital of choice. We waited in the emergency area and by 11pm the doctors had done their thing. They bandaged him up as best as possible and told me to take him home.
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There She Went Miss America

I used to watch The Miss America as well as the Miss Universe beauty contests as a kid in the late 1950’s and throughout the 60’s. The Miss America contest would appear in the late summer and the entire family would look forward to it. It was a tv ratings blockbuster. I was too young and innocent to think much about the lure of seeing good looking women in bathing suits. As everyone else, it was a matter of pride hoping that the representative from my state of Illinois would win. There’d also be the endless wait for the moment Bert Parks would sing the signature song “Here She Is….”. And le’ts not forget the time-wasting Toni Home Permament commercials.
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Bring Back What’s My Line

As a kid in the early 1960’s, the tv shows I watched were part of a group decision. There was only one set for a family of four kids (for the time being) and two parental units. My three sisters had their preference for girlie shows, but, we all always wanted to watch what we thought must have been meant for adult viewing. As if we got extra credit for trying to make ourselves seem more sophisticated than we were.

In those days, if a show got good ratings, it stayed on the air for several years. Good ratings meant that they were drawing lots of people on a regular basis. Of course, this was before cable and dishes that give you anywhere from 50 to 150 channels to choose from. In the big cities, you were glad to have five or six channels. In 1973, All in The Family one week drew a 33.7 rating which translated into a 54 share. This meant that fifty-four percent of all tv’s in use were watching Archie Bunker pontificate. Today, the most watched shows are ecstatic to get up to 25 percent of the sets in use.
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Whatever Happened to TV Westerns?

Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there were more than twenty western shows on TV at one time. Each one had a gimmick. There was Bat Masterson with his cane and derby hat, Chuck Connors with a sawed off shotgun, Richard Boone with his unique calling card, Nick Adams wearing a rebel hat and so on…

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