I am a New York City person. I know this for a fact, not only because I love Manhattan and feel at home there, but all of the theatre people I know in the city tell me I belong there.
Unfortunately, my life in the Big Apple was hijacked before I was born. My birthparents were inconvenient enough to have spawned me in a “tourist cabin” on the back Akron-Massillon Road (or someplace like that) and my adoptive parents, thoughtless of my needs, remained in Ohio. My amom, though, for reasons known only to her, decided I should be a copywriter or a graphic artist, neither of which I had much talent for. If I’d followed her command you’d be watching me, not Peggy Olsen on Mad Men–unless I decided to play out a Ronna Jaffe career girl and throw myself out a window or take bottle of Seconal after being used by Don Draper. It didn’t help that I decided to get married when I did, cutting short any chance of ever having a real life. That last sentence is stupid, of course, but that’s how I thought back then..
What does this have to do with New Year’s Eve?
Every year I try to post a relevant New Year video–preferably old.–and Christmas and New Year for me has always been about New York City. That probably comes from watching The Today Show window crowd at Rockefeller Plaza every morning before I went to school. BTW, one of my unmet goals in life is to dine in the Rainbow Room, but it’s gone now.. My parents always did that when they went to New York–except when they took me. Then, it was Sardi’s and the Latin Quarter. Talk about ungrateful!
Anyway, this year I had problem finding something suitable for ringing in 2012, until I came across this rare video of Guy Lombardo’s appearance on the (live from New York) December 31, 1950 What’s My Line. He must have run over to CBS during a break from the Roosevelt Grill, another place I fantasized about. The very name sounds so sophisticated. I prefer, the older version. A good place to meet William Powell..
The What’s My Line panel 61 years ago tonight was an All-Star New York lineup: Betty Furness Arlene Francis, Garry Moore (all of whom people of a certain age should remember), and as a special treat, the poet and critic Louis Untermeyer. Who says TV wasn’t smart back then? (Actually the show had quite a few smart panelists!) I had no idea Untermeyer was a What’s My Line regular–or on TV at all, having spent my formative years with his replacement Bennett Cerf who made me useless for any publisher other than Random House. Untermyer was later forced off the show by commie-hunters and commie-hating sponsors, despite a strong, protracted defense by Goodson- Todman. Gotta watch those poets!
OK, I’ve rattled on long enough, and as soon as I post this I’m going back to living vicariously through What’s My Line. Happy New Year! I’d like to say the new year has to be better than 2011, but I won’t count on it . Let’s do try, though!
Lombardo is on the first half of this video, followed by a civilian who makes seltzer.
|I suppose taking a 17-year old to the Latin Quarter would be grounds for endangerment charges today .|
That was fun! I’m of the age that I used to watch that show with my parents on Sunday nights with chicken sandwiches made from the leftover roast chicken we had for Sunday dinner at one or so, and tea. It felt very grownup to me.
I’m struck by how smart TV used to be. The first time I ever saw Our Town was on Omnibus The play creeps me out to this day and I can’t watch it. I also saw part of Streetcar on Omnibus: the scene in which Blanch talks about her husband’s suicide. Yikes. That was in the early 1950s.
And. of course. all those wonderful live plays every night. The sitcoms were actually funny. Do you remember Jerry Lester and Dagmar? The NBC Opera. Howard Barlow and the Firestone Orchestra.
What’s My Line was urbane and witty and full of New York folks I wanted to be. Alexander Wolcott once wrote that everyone in NYC was actualy from Canton, Ohio That’s where I’m from.
Years ago Americans were rather highbrow, even if they weren’t. Now they’re just vulgar.