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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Such Devoted Sisters.

Dorothy McGuire died this week.
Remember Dorothy McGuire?
Dorothy McGuire was a wonderful actress.
She was wonderful in two of director Elia Kazan's landmark films:
"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn"
God, she was terrific in that.
And "Gentleman's Agreement"
That one seems a little dated now, but her work was award worthy.

But that's not the Dorothy McGuire who died this week.
That Dorothy McGuire died in 2001.
This Dorothy McGuire was one third of the singing group "The McGuire Sisters"
Growing up, I was far more aware of that Dorothy McGuire than I was of the actress.
That's primarily because they were regulars on the Arthur Godfrey Show in the fifties.
I know there might be many of you who might not remember who Arthur Godfrey was.
I find this astounding.
Because in the 1950's, the man owned television.
I don't mean he owned a television.
I mean, my father owned a television.
Godfrey owned television.
He was everywhere on it.
He had three shows on the air at the same time, and was the ratings king on all three.
He had a morning show, which also aired simultaneously on radio.
Godfrey wore headphones and everything.
It was essentially a radio show that allowed cameras in.
Kind of what Don Imus did later on.
Except Godfrey's was a variety show.
There was much music, some comedy, and an inordinate amount of ukulele playing and
singing by the host.
I'm sure he was responsible for a spike in ukulele sales.
This morning show was on Monday through Friday.
He also had a once-a-week prime time variety show, which was performed standing up, without headphones.
On both of these shows, he had a regular group of performers that he called "The
Little Godfreys"
He seemed to not want these Little Godfreys to become big.
He made every effort to keep them little.
And beholden to him.
The McGuire Sisters were three of the Little Godfreys.
Julius LaRosa, a great singer, was one of them.
LaRosa attempted to become a bigger Godfrey, and was fired on the air for his efforts.
A major brouhaha ensued because of this, and was the beginning of the public turning on Godfrey, who was never as popular since.
Godfrey was for the most part, not well-liked by those who knew him.
He was allegedly the role model for Andy Griffith's character in the ubiquitous Elia Kazan's classic "A Face In The Crowd".
None of the other Little Godfreys became bigger either, except for the McGuire
Sisters, who ran the table with a string of hit records.
They actually got their start on Godfrey's third show, also on once a week,
"Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts"
The McGuire Sisters' hit records were wonderful, and were bigger, and made them bigger, than Godfrey was.
"Sincerely", "Sugartime", and the version of "Picnic" that contained lyrics by Steve
Allen that no one asked him to write, according to the film's director Joshua Logan,
"Something's Gotta Give", "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight", just to name a few.

My mother was a huge fan of Arthur Godfrey's, and watched everything he had on.
This gave me much exposure to him, and to the McGuire Sisters.
The McGuire Sisters dressed identically, were identically coiffed, and identically made up.
I once saw Frank Sinatra appearing in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget, where they created a more intimate room for him to work in.
About four hundred seats.
He could have filled the place twelve times over, but if Frank wanted four hundred seats, he got four hundred seats.
This was in the 1980's.
The McGuire Sisters were seated at a table, not too far from me.
Identically dressed, identically coiffed, and identically made up.
And they weren't working that night.
I imagine that there must have been daily phone conversations that always began with "What are you wearing today?"
As the years took their toll, they identically needed more and more makeup,
and probably had identical facelifts.
But they didn't have identical faces.
Phyllis McGuire was the lead singer.
She was always flanked by Christine on her right, and Dorothy on her left.
They were all uncommonly pretty.
But there was no doubt to this seven-year-old's mind that Dorothy was far and away
the prettiest.
She was, in fact, my first little-boy crush.
It gave my mother the first opportunity she had to try out the word "facchliuppit"
on me.
For the uninformed, "facchliuppit", in Yiddish, means "Consumed to the point of embarrassment"
As used in a sentence "So Mark, Dorothy McGuire. Are you facchliuppit with her?"
This, of course, is what every seven-year-old wants to hear.
It was probably the last time I openly expressed any interest in any woman.
Particularly the unattainable Dorothy McGuire.
That's how mortifying it was.
But it was also probably the first time that I can recall experiencing an erection.
I looked down at my pants and said "What's that?"

Next time, more about the McGuire Sisters, and their place among other female
singing sisters.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******


6 comments:

  1. Very nice piece. Thanks.

    I, too, remember Arthur Godfrey -- yes, even the radio show. I wasn't a fan of his, but my grandmother inexplicably liked him. But even when I see kinescopes of him today, he still seems like a jerk.

    You mention "A Face in the Crowd." I wonder whether you've also seen "The Great Man" (which also is said to be based on Godfrey) and, if so, what you think of it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've seen "The Great Man". It's very good.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It was essentially a radio show that allowed cameras in. Kind of what Don Imus did later on.

    That wasn't Imus emulating Godfrey, though. Ever since the mid-1980s, Don Imus couldn't belch unless Howard Stern had taken an Alka-Seltzer first.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just checking in ......
    FWIW the Renoir film we spoke of was
    The Rules of the Game starring Marcel Dalio (Casablanca-- his wife played Rick's girlfriend Yvonne).

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's a chance you are eligible to get a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You could be eligible to get a Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."