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Category Archives: Cathode Rays

Jingle All The Way

When I was a wee tyke, I loved TV commercial jingles (still love them, don’t kill me). This fact came to mind recently when I was listening to a internet radio station for vintage music and Eddie Cantor singing “Charley My Boy” came on. Although the song was originally recorded in the 1920s, Phoenix residents may recall that it was constantly used as the jingle for a series of cheeseball ads from local tire merchant Charlie Case in the ’70s. The ads I recall employed a male barbershop quartet, but the one below has a lady quartet introducing Charlie. Dig those lush production values, one small step higher than a Tex & Edna Boil SCTV skit:

Watching TV commercials must have warped my brain. Entire conversations I’ve had are lost to me, but I could easily sing all of the local car lot jingles from ’70s-’80s Phoenix. That includes Bell Ford, which if I’m not mistaken is still in use to this day:

Speaking of jingles, the one used at the end of Sun Valley Waterbed was nearly forgotten by me, especially considering that their ads with the perky “Carolyn” were on locally all the time. Blonde Carolyn looked a lot like local newscaster Mary Jo West, so in the back of my kiddie mind I imagined that the two were friends. Whether that was true or not is open to speculation, but I did just learn that Carolyn was once the keyboard player in The Brooklyn Bridge (“The Worst That Could Happen”). I guess tickling the ivories didn’t bring in the same cash that waterbeds later did. All three of these ads come from YouTube user DaddySinister.

Iwant and Gimme

Vintage video dept… a helpful YouTube user has uploaded two commercial breaks from a 1976 episode of Bozo’s Circus, the long-running kiddie show on Chicago’s WGN. Although I never saw this particular program, the commercials are a hoot and total blast of nostalgia. I was eight years old at the time, the perfect age for Lucky Charms cereal and that super-cool hovering Star Trek thingie (we had something similar, although I think it was a normal helicopter and not the U.S. Enterprise). The popcorn with oil and salt in a separate pouch also looks intriguing.

In this second commercial break, what stands out for me is the nice animation on the Cap’n Crunch commercial – a step up from the usual Hanna-Barbera fare of the time (do you recognize June Foray’s voice, too?). Although I remember the Magician Mickey toy, the build-it-yourself plastic straw kit wound up getting lost in the sands of time, for good reason. What a weird toy!

P.S. The title for this post comes from the affectionate nicknames that my grandmother gave my mom and aunt when they were young tykes. Totally appropos, for sure.

Going Gaga for Zsa Zsa

In honor of my review of Dahling: A Tribute to Zsa Zsa Gabor being published at DVD Talk, let’s enjoy Ms. Gabor singing “High Heeled Sneakers” on Shindig!:

OK, so she couldn’t sing, but could she act? Here she is showing that continental flair in a commercial for Lawry’s Seasoned Salt from the same period. I think I’d enjoy noshing on a hamburger with Zsa Zsa.

The Password Is ‘Funnies’

Making out way though our fabboo Best of Password DVD set, we came across this 1965 episode with guest stars Betty White and the elegant Arlene Francis. The Betty White Passwords are always lots of fun. She has a great, flirty repartee with host Alan Ludden (a.k.a. Mr. Betty White) and her fellow players in addition to being a sharp player. What makes this one even more interesting is that the players are well-known comic strip artists of the day, including Al Capp (‘Lil Abner) and Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey). The artists were playing for charity to support a gallery show they put on in response to Pop Artists using their comic book imagery. The artists aren’t too great at playing Password, really, but the episode is an excellent little window into that (white, male, mostly stodgy) world of newspaper comic strips of the mid-sixties.

The fascinating story behind the comic book artists (and the Pop Art show) featured in this episode can be read on this CSBG weblog post from comix expert Greg Hatcher.

Z-Ro, My Hero

One of the Christmas gifts I got for my spouse was the 12-DVD Classic Sci Fi TV: 150 Episodes set from Mill Creek. This set has a ton of old, really cheesy but entertaining TV dramas and serials, mostly dating from the 1950s. These hoary old kinescopes with wooden acting and predictable plots are not for every taste, but we’re digging them.

One of the more intriguing curios on the set is the show Captain Z-Ro. The show was produced locally for a San Francisco station in 1955-56, then syndicated nationwide. It followed the mustachioed Captain Z-Ro and his young sidekick, Jet, as they traveled through time and learned about various historical events on Earth. I was expecting pure cheese from this one, but the show is actually quite fun and nicely produced for a local early TV effort. The Mill Creek set includes a total of 24 episodes of this particular opus, so it should keep us plenty busy.

Question Me an Answer

Lately we’ve been watching this Best of Password DVD that I recently ordered. It’s actually quite fun, with 30 episodes that give a glimpse of famous stars like Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke when they were young (early to mid ’60s).

It reminded me of a game show that didn’t make it, the one that David Letterman hosted in the ’70s. I remember Dave talking about this one rather disparagingly with guest Michael McKean on his NBC show. The show was called The Riddlers (1977), and it’s actually on YouTube. Part one is below. Letterman has a bit of snark, which makes it more watchable than most ’70s game shows.