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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shakin' It Up. 3.

Okay.
It's going to be three and out.
But I'm only going to be talking about two.

Charo:

Probably the best representative of "Shakin' it up" that we've ever had.
And probably the least personally damaged by it.
She began her career by marrying Xavier Cugat.
As did Abbe Lane.
Yes, we're coming full circle.
Charo was one of those talk-show guests who made their bones by coming on and
fracturing the language.
This form of talk-show guest always worked best with Jack Paar.
He had his regulars in this regard.
Genevieve, Jack Douglas's Japanese wife Reiko......
Charo fit in to the pattern, although I don't think she was ever on with Paar.
Paar's attitude with these guests was what made it work.
He looked at all of them as if they had three heads.
When Paar went off the air, these language fracturers gravitated to appearing on
Merv Griffin's show, where they were completely wasted.
Because Merv looked at them as if they only had one head.
He enjoyed them.
And that killed it for me.
Johnny Carson would never book Charo as a guest.
She would be relegated to being booked whenever a guest host was there, as were
many other celebrities.
I remember one of my first exposures to David Letterman.
He was guest hosting for Carson.
Charo was booked to appear with Letterman on one of his guest-hosting nights.
She came on, and began being her usual incomprehensible self.
And Letterman looked at her as if she was from Mars.
And I shouted at the TV screen in my living room: "Jack Paar lives!"
For that alone, he deserved his Kennedy Center Honor.

Then, there is the question of Charo's age.
Birth certificates have turned up stating that she was born in 1941.
She has gone to court in an attempt to prove that she was born in 1951.
When I was eighteen, I was a page at ABC in New York.
I was working on one of their variety shows.
Cugat and Charo, newly married, were booked on this show.
I got a chance to get a look at Charo close up.
You know how when you're young, you have this automatic feel for who's older or younger than you?
There was no doubt in my mind that Charo was at least several years older than me.
Hell, if she was born in 1951, that would have meant that she was roughly thirteen
years old when she married Cugat.
I don't think so.
Anyway, she's still out there.
Still kootchy-kootchying.
I understand that fairly recently, the kootchy-kootchying was done in Branson, the
redneck armpit of show business.

Lola Falana:

We will conclude with her.
Lola Falana was the black Joey Heatherton.
I'd seen them both when they worked Las Vegas, and their acts were interchangeable.
One thing about women who shook it up for a living: There was never any ethnic
discrimination involved.
There was complete diversity.
Just in the ones I mentioned, you have blacks, whites, white trash, Jews, and Mexicans.
Yes, Abbe Lane was Jewish, not Latin.
Lola Falana was perhaps best known for being Sammy Davis Jr.'s "protege"
Lola was also pretty much responsible for breaking up Sammy's marriage to Mai Britt, according to some sources.
She is not to be confused with Altovese Gore, who was Sammy's next and last wife, who ended up indigent and dead at 65.
Probably shook it up at one point or another.
Lola was also well known for battling major health problems.
I think she had more than one bout with multiple sclerosis.
It's been a rocky road for her.
But that didn't stop her from also playing Branson, in the late 90s.
Mai Britt is alive, and healthy, and remarried, and great, and pushing eighty.
She never had to shake it up.

So what have we learned from all of this?
That "Shakin' it up" is a precarious profession at best.
And if you can graduate from it, you are better off.
There don't seem to be any up-and-coming "Shakin'-it-uppers"
It seems to have become a lost art.
And if you have participated in it, there is an excellent chance that you were
either married to Xavier Cugat, or worked Branson.
Or both.


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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".
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******

3 comments:

  1. I recently saw Charo on a Disney zitcom. She played the mother of a character that had to be about 50 (or 40) years younger than her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's a chance you're qualified to get a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You might be eligible to get a free 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."