Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today is the last day of January and the birthday of several famous people now passed away, save one. The one is Carol Channing who turns eighty-nine today. What an amazing performer! It also would have been the birthday of Eddie Cantor. For those of us old enough to remember, Eddie was that wide-eyed, vaudevillian performer whose career transcended into radio, television and movies. He made songs like "Toot Toot Tootsie" "Making Whoopie" and "Ida ("sweet as Apple Cider) absolute hits! His dear wife's name was Ida and he had five daughters, the heartbreak from the death of one of them (Marjorie) at the age of forty-four was the cause of the early demise of them both. But here are two Eddie Cantor stories I bet no one has heard of, One involves downright prejudice refused and the other is censorship battled but ultimately lost.In the 1950s, Eddie Cantor was one of the alternating hosts of the television show The Colgate Comedy Hour, in which he would introduce variety acts and play comic characters like "Maxie the Taxi." However, the show landed Cantor in an unlikely controversy when a young Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared as a guest performer. Cantor embraced Davis and mopped Davis's brow with his handkerchief after his performance. Worried sponsors led NBC to threaten the cancellation of the show; Cantor's response was to book Davis for two more weeks. On May 25, 1944, pioneer television station WPTZ (now KYW-TV) in Philadelphia presented a special telecast featuring Eddie Cantor, which was also fed to the NBC television station in New York City, WNBT (now WNBC). Cantor, one of the first major stars to agree to appear on television, was to sing "We're Havin' A Baby, My Baby And Me". Arriving shortly before airtime at the Philadelphia studios, Cantor was reportedly told to cut the song because the NBC New York censors considered some of the lyrics too risqué. Cantor refused, claiming no time to prepare an alternative number. NBC relented, but the sound was cut and the picture blurred on certain lines in the song. This is considered the first instance of television censorship. Today also would have been the birthday of Mario Lanza. There is no sadder story than of this dear talented man. Mere months after succumbing to a fatal heart attack at the tender age of thirty-nine, in October of 1959 in Rome, his wife moved back to Hollywood and died herself just five months later of a pulmonary embolism. All of Mario Lanza's children died before the age of fifty-eight. His eldest died of a heart attack at age thirty-eight, his daughter was killed in a car crash and his oldest son died of a heart attack at fifty-seven. Did anyone notice the full moon on Friday night the 29th of this month? It was the brightest full moon of the year (30% brighter) , a blue moon-- the second in a month and the widest moon (by fifteen percent. that we will see all year. It was also called a "wolf" moon" Well, I passed my Ford Motor Company certification tests. There are fourteen different vehicles that Ford makes. So now, I am an official car salesman! Go figure! At least here at Sunrise Ford i have a decent chance of making a decent living! If you had told me just last December that my new job would be a car salesman, I would have looked at you as if you were certified crazy! God draws straight with crooked lines-- again! Tomorrow, February first is my first official day as one!