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For the most part my interviews were with actors – men and women – who were attempting to call attention to their latest project, usually a television show. However, I'd occasionally meet singers or musicians, and what follows are pieces of five such interviews. Clearly I was out of my depth.

The occasion was a 1964 party for Emmy Award nominees and I was in Los Angeles on what turned into a working vacation while I was the TV editor at the Akron Beacon Journal. That is, I was headed for California, anyway, so the newspaper offered to extend my visit a week if I arranged a few interviews.

Publicists are always happy to cooperate. Unfortunately, I don't have any photographs to document the highlight of my California stay – which was lunch with Mary Tyler Moore.

The photograph I do have was taken at that party where celebrities were sitting ducks. I'm not sure why Andy Williams attended, but his can't-wait-to-get-out-of-here expression is understandable because such events are not unlike speed dating where you have five minutes to figure out if you've just met your One True Love. Only in this case the journalist appears amiable, but what he's really trying to do is extract enough information for a story.

Unfortunately for the celebrity, all journalists tend to ask pretty much the same questions, which can be sleep-inducing. Williams was pleasant, but this particular meeting produced no story and would have been forgotten except that a photographer came along and snapped a picture that was sent to me by the publicist. (My mother's reaction: "When did you start drinking?")

One thing I recall from the interview – though I don't know how the subject arose – was that Williams predicted stardom for Michele Lee, who had become a Broadway star in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," who would reprise her role in the film version. In 1964, however, Lee had only done one thing on camera, and that was a 1961 guest appearance on TV's "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." Williams' prediction for Lee had more to do with her singing than acting.

Another subject concerned an old rumor that Williams had dubbed the song, "How Little We Know," for Lauren Bacall in her first movie, 1944's "To Have and Have Not." Williams was a teenager then, singing in a group with his three brothers. I asked him about it and he told me he was hired to sing it, but that director Howard Hawks decided to stick with Bacall's version. Almost every account I have read since then supports what Williams told me. Bacall's version was almost the same, except she said Williams' voice was used on a couple of high notes she couldn't reach.

[NOTE: Andy Williams and his brothers appear on camera in a charming 1944 film called "Janie," starring Joyce Reynolds as an irrepressible teenager who defies her father and falls in love with a soldier. Through a mix up that would take too long to explain, Janie finds herself unexpectedly playing host to about 100 GIs at her parents' house. Williams and his brothers play GIS who show up at the party and sing. Based on this small sample, I'd say The Williams Brothers could have done very well for themselves had they remained a quartet.]

Andy Williams was the youngest of the singing Williams Brothers. After he went solo, he was part of an interesting rotation on Steve Allen's "Tonight Show" (1954-57). Four singers were used, but none appeared every evening. The others were Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme and Pat Kirby, the only one of the four who didn't later become a headliner in her own right. Lawrence and Gorme later married and became a team, though Lawrence also acted in several movies and television shows.

It was inevitable that after Andy Williams emerged as the most successful singer of the "Tonight Show" singers that someone would get the bright idea to make an actor out of him. In 1964 he starred with Robert Goulet, Sandra Dee and Maurice Chevalier in the movie comedy, "I'd Rather Be Rich." Goulet had had experience acting on the Broadway stage, albeit in musicals, but Williams clearly was lost trying to play someone other than himself. After that he concentrated on singing and hosting TV variety shows and specials.

 

In the early 1960s it appeared that singer Jack Jones he was going to be big. He was the son of Allan Jones, a singer-actor who enjoyed success in movies.

Jack Jones seemed to have the looks to make the switch to movies, so it was inevitable he'd do some acting, but like Andy Williams, Jones was bland and awkward on screen. He is probably best remember today for singing the theme song of "The Love Boat."

He kept record and over the years has enjoyed a lot of success on the middle-of-the-road circuit. Had he come along 20 years earlier he might have been a much bigger star.

What I remember most about the story that came out of the Jack Jones interview was what you might call a rookie mistake on my part. Jones' big record hit at that point was "Lollipops and Roses," written by Tony Velona. The features department at the Beacon Journal included only four other writers or editors. All four were older than me by a generation or two; older and much wiser. As the kid, I was the target of whatever jokes they made about young people and their terrible taste in music.

In order to make a point (that really couldn't be made through the example I selected), I called attention to the lyrics in "Lollipops and Roses." In describing the song, I think I even used the phrase "dripping with good lyrics," whatever that was supposed to mean.

And then I dispensed a sample:

Tell her you care each time you speak.
Make it her birthday each day of the week.
Bring her nice things, sugar and spice things,
roses and lollipops and lollipops and roses.

My co-workers had grown up on Rodgers and Hart or Rodgers and Hammerstein, Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, and Cole Porter. And here I was quoting a songwriter named Tony Velona. As far as they were concerned, I might as well have quoted the lyrics to "Louie Louie."

And as I reflect on it now, I can 't say that I disagree with them.

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Don Adams Patty Duke Ricardo Montalban
Herb Alpert Richard Egan George Montgomery
Dana Andrews Jack Elam Joanna Moore
John Astin Linda Evans Mary Tyler Moore
Frankie Avalon Pat Finley Ozzie and Harriet Nelson
Barbara Barrie Eric Fleming Hugh O'Brian
Bill Bixby Peter Fonda Pat O'Brien
George Burns Anthony Franciosa Gene Pitney
Michael Callan Annette Funicello Martha Raye
Richard Chamberlain Zsa Zsa Gabor Della Reese
Leslie Charleson Beverly Garland Carl Reiner
Petula Clark Jackie Gleason Barbara Rush
Dabney Coleman Merv Griffin Robert Ryan
Robert Conrad Mark Harman Henry Silva
Bill Cosby Patricia Harty Julie Sommars
Joseph Cotten Marty Ingels Barbra Streisand
Bob Crane Jack Jones The Three Stooges
Richard Crenna Jack Kelly The Supremes
Ken Curtis Dave Ketchum Dick Van Dyke
Bill Dana Sue Ane Langdon Jerry Van Dyke
Bobby Darin Sheldon Leonard Robert Vaughn
Sammy Davis Jr. Jack Lord Clint Walker
Richard Deacon George Maharis Ray Walston
Bob Denver Jackie Mason Betty White
James Drury Raymond Massey Andy Williams
  Martin Milner Henry Winkler
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