Hey pallies, today's Dino-post is more on the MDA Labor Day Weekend Telethon from our pallies over at the Frank Sinatra blog "blue-eyes.com." Mr. Gregg Dispenza shares some of his fondest memories of the Lewis extravaganza over the years, includin', of course, the year 1976 when our Dino reunited with the jer.
As Dispenza shares that amazin' experience, "I can remember watching this and feeling like an incredible historic moment had just happened." Indeed pallies, likes I does believe that this was the most important event ever conveyed through the small screen. We thanks Gregg for sharin' his memories and for usin' to great pixs of our Dino, the Jer, and Frankie.
To view this in it's original format, likes just clicks on the tagg of this Dino-post. And we sez our thanks to our pallies over at "blue-eyes.com" 'cause each and every Dino-day they share a link to the latest happenin's here at ilovedinomartin. With Dino-appreiato, DMP
Labor Day & The MDA Telethon
by Gregg Dispenza on September 7, 2010
“Frank, It’s Labor Day again.” “What do you need and when do you want me ?”. As Jerry Lewis would recount the story most years, that was how he usually described Frank Sinatra’s agreeing to appear on that year’s Labor Day Telethon for MDA.
That kind of a story also harkens back to a different kind of show business; a time when the slogan uttered hourly by announcer Ed McMahon, “Stay up with Jerry and watch the stars come out.” meant a great deal more to even the casual viewer than it does today.
Regardless of the reason, the truly one-of-a-kind “name” performers aren’t seen anymore because that type of in-one entertainment has virtually disappeared. Every generation has its nostalgia, but in my case, staying up to watch legendary or recognizable names in show business, that crossed generations, each year on the telethon was the reason that my best friend and I would plan an all-nighter, with pasta and other food, just to see who might appear. Before the days of home video, one didn’t want to take the chance of missing something, especially because it was also one of the very few LIVE things on the air.
Of course, Las Vegas, where the show has mostly emanated from since 1973, was different then, too. Ensemble glitz and overall spectacle, along with a difference in audience preference today, has replaced the type of nightclub legend that would result in someone like Liberace opening the proceedings, to the wee small hour likes of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, Abbe Lane, Keely Smith and Sam Butera, to the culminating hours with Jack Jones and Ray Charles, with Sammy Davis Jr. usually in the closing spot before the final tote and Jerry’s concluding song.
Watching this year’s telethon made me think about how much has changed. Our local station (one of the original four that made up the “Love Network”), has gradually carried less and less of the overnight hours, and this year presented the first two hours on Sunday and then started again at 5am on Monday.
But, for the moment, it’s 1975 and the heralding of Sinatra’s appearing for MDA is the announcement that Ol’ Blue Eyes will be seen in three mini-concerts. My recollection is that each of these ran an extended amount of time, compared to the other performers, with Sinatra doing about 3-4 songs each time. I also seem to recall, at one point, Sinatra making pledges for different people on his staff or retainer, in fairly sizeable amounts, supposedly without their knowledge.
Of course, the appearance that everyone remembers is from 1976 when Sinatra sang “Stargazer” featuring Sam Butera, and then said he had a friend backstage that he wanted to bring out. When the cameras captured Dean Martin’s entrance, I can remember watching this and feeling like an incredible historic moment had just happened. This was borne out when the segment was replayed via videotape the next afternoon, and it made the papers. People would ask if I had stayed up and seen it live, and it felt like a badge of honor to say yes. Watching Sinatra and Martin just have fun through a long medley, with Dean alternating glances at Jerry offstage, was priceless.
Over the next years, when Sinatra appeared for MDA it was mostly done as a cut-in to his concert that night, or a song or two might also be taped from that same show and then played as a bonus appearance the next day. The one that stands out the most for me was at a time when there was a lot of press about the deterioration of Sinatra’s voice. Needless to say, when Sinatra appeared, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This might have been the telethon when Jerry told Frank that if he had wanted the whole amount raised right then, “I would’ve asked you.” but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that FS nailed “Mack The Knife” so hard that it made one take notice, and then killed with “New York, New York”. The result ? Both the audience at the concert and in the studio stood up and cheered continuously.
A time when the stars, indeed, did come out…