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How I loved the Hollywood Palace back in the day. It was ABC TV's best
contribution to our culture back in the day. Of course the fact that
the most frequent guest host was the Greatest Entertainer Ever made it
a must see item.
Highlights that I remember would include such things as: Bing Crosby dueting with Sonny&Cher, Nelson Eddy making his last big or small screen appearance, Tony Martin and Rudy Vallee, not singing together, but dueting with the clarinet and saxophone, instruments that both played but put aside when their singing careers took over.
The show was a homage to the old Palace Theatre in New York City. In the days of vaudeville it was the summit of every entertainer's ambition; to play at the Palace Theatre.
It was good that people got to see a lot of these folks. I wish that TV Land would broadcast some of these shows.
Classics every one.
Whatever happened to the variety show? Where today can you see acts
like Senior Wences ('sawrrright? 'SAWRRRIGHT!); the guy who spun plates
on fiber-glass poles to the tune of Khachaturian's "Neighbor's Dance";
the harmonica group who dressed in liederhosen and the midget went
around biting everyone in the knee when he got kneed out by the other
performers; the guy who tried to get his dog to jump through the hoop
and the dog, instead, would slowly droop to the floor anemically; Carl
Ballantine, the magician who had everything go wrong in his magic act;
all those comedians and impressionists; the juggling acts; the acrobat
acts; and a plethora of other folks who did acts in nightclubs and show
rooms all over America? This was the place. We didn't get Ed Sullivan
in our town during my early years, but we DID get the Hollywood Palace
- on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. - just before "The Outer Limits" aired
at 10 p.m.
The theme song was "Put On a Happy Face," played brightly by an off-stage orchestra (originally led by Les Brown). It was a pre-recorded show with a live audience, much like Ed Sullivan, except it had several guest hosts, largely consisting of Bing Crosby and Don Adams.
I remember it as the introduction of Raquel Welch to America. Raquel would come out each week and place a placard on an easel introducing the next act. If I'm not mistaken, she began on the show coming out in something akin to a Bunny suit (as in Playboy Bunny outfit minus the ears) with dark stockings? Anyway, I miss these types of shows. Steve Harvey is the closest thing to this type of show and it's a shame. It's just not "all that" in comparison to "The Hollywood Palace."
AS WE RECALL, this series came to ABC TV Network's Saturday evening
lineup as a "temporary replacement" for THE JERRY LEWIS; which was
halted abruptly following poor ratings.* In spite of one misgivings
from "the Suits" in ABC's boardroom, this Variety anthology was put on
the airwaves. "Who wants a variety comedy-musical show on Saturdays?";
seemed to be the prevailing attitude.
PERFORMING OUTSTANDINGLY WELL, the show stayed for seven whole seasons; controlling the ratings and presenting just about everyone who was anyone in mid 60s showbiz.
IN MUCH THE same vein as ED SULLIVAN'S TOAST OF THE TOWN, the Palace became the gathering place of musical groups, singers, acrobats, jugglers, dancers, animal acts and whatever have you. We can't recall any celebs being seated in the audience and being "surprised" to be shown or interviewed, as was Ed Sullivan's modus operandi; but they probably did anyway.
THOSE WHO CAN recall those halcyon days of bygone network presentation fondly speak of THE Hollywood PALACE and how each and every week brought us a different treat, hosted by special guest stars. This included everyone; everyone, that is, except Jerry Lewis.
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