Here’s a scene from the 1957 movie “A Face In The Crowd.” The film was directed by Elia Kazan and it starred Patricia Neal and Andy Griffith. It’s about the rise and fall of a hobo turned loud mouthed TV pundit. The song in this clip is called “Free Man In The Morning.” It was composed by Tom Glazer with lyrics by Bud Schulberg. It’s quite a nice little blues number, which isn’t surprising because Andy Griffith is quite a good musician (though he doesn’t appear to be actually playing in this clip).
I once attended a fascinating lecture about why we humans are so easily manipulated. Don’t worry, I’m not going to regurgitate it here. I’m aware that my definition of “fascinating” is not in step with anyone else, anywhere, ever. Suffice it to say we are born “gullible” and, believe it or not, it’s usually not a bad thing. I do think modern, corporate driven, mass media manipulation sucks pretty big eggs though. I believe that so strongly, in fact that, in a fit of diva pique, I shut off the cable here at House Beautiful. It’s been gone about 5 years now and I haven’t missed it at all. That’s right I’ve broken free of the yoke of my corporate oppressors by streaming the exact same programs with the exact same commercials to my TV through the internet! The internet for which I am now paying double because I no longer have the TV/internet package deal. So yeah, I’m totally fighting the power over here!
Today’s clip comes from a 1958 recording of “Art Ford’s Jazz Party.” The song is “Ace In The Hole.” It was written by Cole Porter for the 1941 musical “Let’s Face It.” It’s performed here by Maxine Sullivan who I’d never heard of until I found this clip. In 1937, she had a hit record with a jazzy version of the Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond” and she enjoyed a fairly successful career as a big band vocalist through the 40’s. In 1958, probably soon after this film was made, she retired from show business and took up a career in nursing. She made a comeback in 1966 and she recorded several well received albums.
Alberta Hunter, one of my favorite blues/jazz vocalists, also retired from music in the 50’s and took up nursing. When I lived in LA in the 90’s, the bus driver who took me to work every day was a former member of a one hit wonder band. I saw Haywood Nelson who played Dwayne on the 70’s sitcom “What’s Happening” hawking long distance phone plans to businesses at the mall where I worked. I also recognized one of the tellers at my bank from his 70s/80s TV appearances. I suspect LA is full of mundane “After They Were Stars” stories and I really want to say they are just as interesting as the crash and burn “True Hollywood” variety but I doubt that’s true. I’m sure, if asked they’d all say “Hollywood stopped calling but the bill collectors didn’t, so I updated my resumé.” Still, I’d love to hear them anyway. Maybe I could write a book about them all. I’d call it “Tiger Beat To Telemarketing: Teen Idol Transitions.” Someone call Oprah. I’m ready to kick off book tour!