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"…brought to you in living colour on NBC!"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
25 June 2008

Hooray! After one year of unsuccessfully attempting to update IMDb's database of films, they've finally accepted one of my new title submissions. Considering this TV special featured so many household names in American entertainment, they could hardly have turned me down. 'Some of Manie's Friends (1959)' originally aired in March 1959, to celebrate the life of Emanuel "Manie" Sacks (1902-1958), recording executive for Columbia Records, and vice president of both NBC (National Broadcasting Company) and RCA (Radio Corporation of America), who had passed away from leukemia the previous year. If the names of the show's hosts are anything to go by, Manie Sacks was a highly-influential figure in the entertainment industry, and his generous advocacy and support encouraged the careers of countless singers and television performers. The 90-minute special showcases a long line of notable faces – in alphabetical order: Sid Caesar, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Bob Hope, Harry James, Tony Martin, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr, Danny Thomas, Jane Wyman and Jack Webb – who each pay their respects to a man they very much admire.

Perry Como gets the ball rolling with a very solemn opening monologue; he is, in fact, so solemn that he ultimately neglects to bring any fun to the show. The single exception is an amusing true anecdote in which Manie, in order to spare a young girl's feelings, invents a midnight airport departure to end their date early. When the girl eagerly offers to drive him to the airport, he steadfastly refuses to embarrass her, and, true to his word, boards that midnight flight. Most of the other stars bring some humour to the proceedings, particularly Danny Thomas, with a creative invisible piano routine, and Bob Hope, who hilariously quips that "we hope you enjoy this colour TV spectacular tonight. We have colour scenery, colour make-up, colour tubes, colour cameras and colour cables, so you can all see it in black-and-white!" The special was, indeed, filmed in full colour, and there must be a colour print floating around in somebody's archives – though I was only able to view the show in black-and-white, I also uncovered a full-colour segment of the Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra medley, easily the highlight of the night.

Jack Webb ostensibly appeared on the show to honour the memory of Manie Sacks, but his various brief vignettes on Hollywood television production are basically extended tributes to the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company (better known to you as Chesterfield, L & M and Oasis!). I'd never realised that 1950s product placement so was incredibly unsubtle. Nevertheless, each of the guest stars appear genuinely affectionate towards Manie Sacks, and each surrendered their usual appearance fee (they performed at union minimum rates - $265) to support the Emanuel Sacks Medical Foundation, for which over $200,000 was raised. Sinatra's duet with Dinah Shore, in which the latter is brought to hysterics by the former's roguish offhand remarks, is obviously the most entertaining segment, particularly as I was able to watch it in colour, but special mentions must also go to Tony Martin's virtuoso solo and Kay Starr extravagant duet with Oscar-winner Jane Wyman. At the time of this review's writing, Sid Caesar, Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr and Tony Martin are still with us, though we're all saddened by the death of Martin's wife, Cyd Charisse, just last week.

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