December 27 ~ This Day in Music History

today
• 1879 ~ “Bunk” Johnson, American jazz trumpeter

• 1901 ~ Marlene Dietrich, German singer and actress

• 1903 ~ The barbershop quartet favorite, Sweet Adeline, was sung for the first time, in New York City. The song was composed by Henry Armstrong with the words of Richard Gerard. The title of the song came from a theater marquee that promoted the great operatic soprano, Adelina Patti. Now female barbershop quartets call themselves Sweet Adelines.

• 1906 ~ Oscar Levant, American pianist, composer, writer and radio personality

• 1911 ~ Anna Russell, Operatic parodies

• 1927 ~ The Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) musical, Show Boat, opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. Its star, Helen Morgan, received excellent reviews from critics of the show; a musical about riverboat show people and their romances and disappointments.

• 1931 ~ Walter Norris, Pianist, composer

• 1932 ~ Radio City Music Hall, in New York City, opened. It was the largest indoor theater in the world. The gala grand opening show was a six-hour extravaganza that lost half a million dollars within three weeks. The theater has since been renovated to recapture its original decorative charm. An Art Deco cathedral of entertainment, it seats more than 6,200 people and is still a must-see for those visiting New York. During the holiday season, audiences continue to get a kick out of seeing the world- famous Rockettes perform in precision on Radio City Music Hall’s nearly 10,000-square-foot stage which is a combination movie palace and live theater. It remains a showcase for many exciting musical events. It has a seating capacity of 6,200 seats.

• 1939 ~ The Glenn Miller Show, also known as Music that Satisfies, started on CBS radio. The 15-minute, twice-a-week show was sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes and was heard for nearly three years.

• 1940 ~ Singer Al Jolson and actress Ruby Keeler were divorced after 12 years of marriage. They had separated a year earlier; but Jolson talked Keeler into co-starring with him in the Broadway show, Hold on to Your Hats. She left the show before the opening and then left the marriage.

• 1941 ~ Leslie Maguire, Pianist with Gerry and The Pacemakers

• 1944 ~ Mick Jones, Guitarist with Foreigner

• 1952 ~ David Knopfler, Guitarist, singer with Dire Straits

• 1953 ~ Elliot Easton (Shapiro), Guitarist with The Cars

• 1975 ~ The Staple Singers reached the top spot on the pop music charts for the second time in their career. This time with Let’s Do It Again. The song, the theme from the movie soundtrack of the same name, was the last hit the group would have. I’ll Take You There was The Staple Singers’ first number one hit (June 3, 1972).

• 1980 ~ The John Lennon hit, (Just Like) Starting Over, began a five-week stay at #1 on the pop charts. The hit was from the album, Double Fantasy. Lennon was murdered on December 8th of that year, as the single and LP had started their climb up the charts.

• 2003 ~ Vestal Goodman, a pioneering gospel music singer who performed for half a century, including a stint on “The PTL Club” with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, died. She was 74. Goodman and her late husband Howard “Happy” Goodman were part of The Happy Goodman Family act, which recorded 15 No. 1 gospel music songs and performed more than 3,500 concerts. In the mid-1980s, the couple were regulars on “The PTL Club” television show starring the Bakkers. They left in 1988 after three years on the show, and were not linked to financial improprieties as others on the show were. The Happy Goodman Family was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998. They were original members of “The Gospel Singing Jubilee” syndicated TV program that was a pioneer in gospel music broadcasting, appearing on more than 100 U.S. stations. The Goodmans sang at the White House in 1979 for President Carter.

• 2003 ~ Bobbie Nell Brookshire Gordon, a singer who toured in the 1970s with jazz great Duke Ellington, died. She was 64. Gordon, a Dayton native, was discovered in 1961 while singing at a bar in her hometown. She performed with pianist Betty Greenwood and had come to the attention of Ellington, the noted bandleader. Gordon toured from 1970 to 1974 with Ellington. A newly released digital video disc of a 1971 performance, “Live at Tivoli Gardens,” includes Gordon singing “Love You Madly” and “One More Time.” Gordon was featured as “Nell Brookshire” with Ellington on the cover of Jet magazine in September 1971.

• 2003 ~ Dick St. John, half of the Dick & Dee Dee duo, whose 1961 hit, The Mountain’s High, made No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart, died. He was 63. Dick & Dee Dee’s biggest hit was The Mountain’s High, but they also cracked the Top 25 pop singles chart in 1963 with Young and In Love and 1965’s Thou Shalt Not Steal. St. John, born Richard Gosting, began performing with his friend Mary Sperling in junior high. With St. John as the chief songwriter, the two soon attracted the attention of Liberty Records in Los Angeles. St. John and Sperling, who was renamed Dee Dee by the label, combined elements of doo- wop, soul and R&B in their sound. They toured with the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. Dick & Dee Dee were semi-regulars on such musical shows as “American Bandstand.” St. John also wrote songs that were recorded by Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, the Four Seasons and Quincy Jones, and he contributed music to many television shows.

December 14 ~ This Day in Music History

hanukkah

Hanukkah
Hanukkah Music
Hanukkah Music Lyrics

 

Hanukkah 2017 began at sunset (4:48 at the O’Connor Music Studio) on Tuesday, December 12 and ends on Wednesday, December 20.

 

Christmas Music: O Little Town Of Bethlehem

• 1911 ~ “Spike” (Lindley Armstrong) Jones, American drummer, bandleader of satiric music

• 1913 ~ Dan Dailey, Singer, dancer, actor

• 1914 ~ Rosalyn Tureck, American pianist and harpsichordist

• 1920 ~ Clark Terry, Trumpet, flugelhorn with Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones

• 1928 ~ America’s original Funny Girl, Fanny Brice, recorded If You Want the Rainbow, a song from the play, My Man, on Victor Records.

• 1932 ~ Abbe Lane (Lassman), Singer, glamour actress, photographed in a bathtub filled with coffee, bandleader Xavier Cugat’s ex-wife

• 1936 ~ You Can’t Take It with You opened at the Booth Theatre in New York City.

• 1946 ~ Patty Duke, US film actress

• 1947 ~ Christopher Parkening, American guitarist

• 1953 ~ Fred Allen returned from semi-retirement to narrate Prokofiev’s classic, Peter and the Wolf, on the Bell Telephone Hour on NBC radio.

• 1963 ~ Singer Dinah Washington died in Detroit.

• 1970 ~ George Harrison received a gold record for his single, My Sweet Lord.

• 1983 ~ The musical biography of Peggy Lee opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City. The show was titled Peg.

• 1984 ~ The Cotton Club opened around the U.S. There were nine classic songs by Duke Ellington on the soundtrack of the movie.

• 1990 ~ Opera lovers were turned into couch potatoes. For four evenings, starting on this day, they watched and listened to an unabridged telecast of Richard Wagner’s marathon-length opera The Ring.

• 2001 ~ Conte Candoli, a Trumpet player and staple of The Tonight Show band during Johnny Carson’s era, died of cancer. He was 74. Candoli was recognized for developing a musical style based on Dizzy Gillespie’s bebop playing, with a touch of Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. The Indiana-born Candoli, grew up surrounded by musical instruments and influences. His father, a factory worker, played the trumpet and wanted Candoli and his brother Pete to become musicians. At 16, he worked in Woody Herman’s orchestra during summer vacations. While playing in California, Candoli began his association with the then New York-based Tonight Show. In 1972, when Carson moved the show to Burbank, Candoli joined the band. He left when Carson retired in 1992.

December 11 ~ This Day in Music History

today

 

Christmas Music: Ding Dong! Merrily On High

OCMS 1803 ~ Louis-Hector Berlioz, French composer, conductor, music critic and major force in the development of musical form during the Romantic Era
More information about Berlioz

• 1876 ~ Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Polish composer and conductor

• 1882 ~ The Bijou Theatre in Boston, MA became the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.

• 1908 ~ Elliot Cook Carter, Jr., American composer

• 1916 ~ (Damaso) Perez Prado, Piano, organ

• 1926 ~ Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton, Blues singer

• 1931 ~ Rita Moreno (Rosita Alverio), Dancer, Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress

• 1934 ~ Curtis Williams, Singer with The Penguins

• 1935 ~ Tom Brumley, Steel guitar with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Stone Canyon Band

• 1939 ~ Marlene Dietrich recorded Falling In Love Again on the Decca label.

• 1940 ~ David Gates, Guitarist, keyboard, singer with Bread

• 1944 ~ Brenda Lee (Tarpley), American singer of popular music

• 1944 ~ “The Chesterfield Supper Club” debuted on NBC radio. Perry Como, Jo Stafford and many other stars of the day shared the spotlight on the 15-minute show that aired five nights a week. The show was sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes.

• 1952 ~ An audience of 70,000 people watched from 31 theatres as Richard Tucker starred in Carmen. The event was the first pay-TV production of an opera. Ticket prices ranged from $1.20 to $7.20.

• 1954 ~ Jermaine Jackson, Singer with The Jackson Five, brother of Michael, Janet,La Toya, Tito, Randy, Marlon and Jackie

• 1973 ~ Karen and Richard Carpenter received a gold record for their single, Top of the World.

• 1982 ~ Toni Basil reached the #1 one position on the pop music charts for the first time, with her single, Mickey.

• 2000 ~ Ruth Martin, a writer whose translations of both popular and obscure operas were widely used in American opera houses, died at the age of 86. Martin collaborated with her husband Thomas Martin in translating the librettos of some of the world’s most famous operas, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Puccini’s Boheme, and Bizet’s Carmen. Martin and her husband also translated some of the rarest operas, such as Offenbach’s Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, and Dvorák’s Rusalka. The Martins’ translations were marked by their clarity and singability, and despite the increasing use of closed-captioning systems in major opera houses, their translations are still used widely. Martin contributed articles on opera for Opera News, Aria, and Theater Arts. She also served on the boards of the New York Federation of Music Clubs, the Liederkranz Foundation and the National Opera Foundation.

• 2001 ~ Erik Johns, who wrote the libretto for Aaron Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land, died in a fire at his home in Fishkill, N.Y. He was 74. Born Horace Eugene Johnston in Los Angeles, Johns began his career in music as a dancer. He met Copland when he was 19 at a New Year’s Eve party in New York. In 1952 the two began collaborating on an opera based on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans that describes the lives of several Southern sharecropper families during the Depression. Copland composed the music and Johns wrote the libretto, or the words. The work was originally commissioned as a television opera by NBC but was subsequently rejected by the network. The New York City Opera performed it at its premiere at City Center in April 1954 in a short two-act version. The two later added a third act.

• 2001 ~ Jose Fajardo, a Cuban flutist who was one of the most influential bandleaders in Latin music, died an aneurysm. He was 82. The Cuban native had emigrated from Cuba in 1961, when he refused a request from the Cuban government to continue a musical tour to other communist countries. During his lengthy career, Fajardo recorded more than 40 albums and performed around the world. He was credited with expanding the audience for charanga, a Cuban musical style that backs a singer with flute, violins, piano, bass and percussion. Fajardo started his first group, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, in the 1940s. He later led three bands by the same name. After moving to the United States, he founded bands in New York and Miami and began performing in new style called pachanga, featuring a slightly more assertive rhythm. Fajardo was featured on “Cuban Masters: Los Originales,” an album of performances by leading Cuban musicians that was released November 2001.

• 2002 ~ Kay Rose, the first woman to win an Academy Award for sound editing, died. She was 80. Rose won the statuette for her work on the 1984 film The River. A native of New York, Rose was recognized in March with a career achievement award from the Cinema Audio Society. The Motion Picture Sound Editors gave her a similar lifetime achievement award in 1993. In October 2002, directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg endowed the Kay Rose Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. The chair is the first of its kind in the country. After studying film at Hunter College, she became a civilian film apprentice for the Army Signal Corps during World War II. There, she helped create such training films as How to Erect a Double Apron Barbed Wire Fence and the John Huston documentary Report from the Aleutians. She moved to Hollywood in 1944 and found a job as an assistant to an editor at Universal studios. In 1951, she married film editor Sherman Rose. Together, they produced the 1954 sci-fi cult classic, Target Earth. They later divorced. During her five-decade career, Rose received sound editing credits on such films as The Rose, Ordinary People, On Golden Pond, The Milagro Beanfield War, The Prince of Tides, For the Boys and Speed.

November 12 ~ This Day in Music History

today

OCMS 1833 ~ Alexander Borodin, Russian composer
More information about Borodin

.1920 ~ Jo Stafford, Singer

.1925 ~ Louis Armstrong recorded “My Heart”, starting a career that brought him worldwide fame.

.1939 ~ Lucia Popp, Czech soprano

.1940 ~ Walt Disney released “Fantasia”. One critic called the film “As terrific as anything that has ever happened on the screen.”

.1941 ~ Hot Lips Page performed the vocal for Artie Shaw’s very long and very slow version of St. James Infirmary on RCA Victor.

.1943 ~ Brian Hyland, Singer

.1943 ~ John Maus, Bass, singer with the trio, The Walker Brothers

.1944 ~ Booker T. Jones, Musician with Booker T and the MG’s

.1945 ~ Neil Young, Canadian folk-rock singer, songwriter and guitarist, with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

.1948 ~ Errol Brown, Songwriter with Tony Wilson singer with Hot Chocolate

.1950 ~ Barbara Fairchild, Singer

.1955 ~ Leslie McKeown, Singer with The Bay City Rollers

.1967 ~ Pearl Bailey took over the lead in the Broadway musical, “Hello Dolly”. ‘Pearlie Mae’ was a smash hit in the role.

.1970 ~ After a successful London run, Anthony Quayle starred in the Broadway opening of “Sleuth”.

.1980 ~ John Lennon’s “Starting Over” was released. John and Yoko were seen kissing on the record cover.

.1983 ~ Lionel Richie began the first of four consecutive weeks at the top of the music charts as All Night Long (All Night) became the most popular song in the U.S.

.2001 ~ Broadway composer Albert Hague, who won a Tony for his work on Redhead and who played the part of cranky music teacher Benjamin Shorofsky in the Fame movie and television series, died of cancer. He was 81. Hague composed the music for many Broadway shows, including The Fig Leaves Are Falling, Plain and Fancy, Cafe Crown and Miss Moffat, which starred Bette Davis. He won his Tony in 1959. He also wrote the music for the animated TV classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas and appeared in a number of movies, including the Michael Jordan- Bugs Bunny comedy Space Jam, in which he played a psychiatrist. It was his long-running role as white-bearded, German-accented teacher Shorofsky that brought him to Los Angeles. He played the part for five years on TV. Other TV acting credits included guest appearances on such shows as Hotel, Beauty and the Beast and Tales From the Dark Side. Born Albert Marcuse in Berlin, Hague fled his native Germany for Rome with his mother in 1937 after the Nazis came to power. He eventually settled in the United States, where he studied music at the University of Cincinnati and was adopted by Dr. Elliott B. Hague, an eye surgeon. In recent years, he and his late wife, actress Renee Orin Hague, had a successful cabaret act, appearing at Carnegie Hall two years ago.

.2003 ~ Guy Livingston, a theater maven and journalist who reviewed stage performances for Variety, died. He was 92. After serving in World War II, Livingston became a drama critic for Variety, traveling between Boston and New York reviewing musicals. Later, he became a press agent for many musicals, as well as for musical artists, among them Judy Garland, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Ray Charles.

.2003 ~ Tony Thompson, the driving force behind such groups as Chic and the Power Station, and a drummer whose effortless ability to move from jazz to rock to funk made him a prized session man, died of renal cell cancer. He was 48. The drummer was noted not only for keeping perfect time but also for subtle cymbal syncopation and raw power, talents that kept him in demand as a session player for such stars as Madonna, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle and Sister Sledge. By the late 1970s, Chic was one of the most popular groups of the disco era. The group sold millions of records beginning with the hit single Dance, Dance, Dance in 1977. Other hits included the singles Le Freak and Good Times and the albums C’est Chic and Risque. After the group disbanded in 1983, Thompson kept busy as a session player, appearing on Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album in 1979, Bowie’s Let’s Dance in 1983 and Madonna’s Like a Virgin in 1984. He also appeared on Mick Jagger’s solo album She’s The Boss in 1985. That same year, Thompson and others formed Power Station. The group’s hits included Some Like it Hot.

November 5 ~ This Day in Music History

today

.1895 ~ Walter Gieseking, German pianist

.1912 ~ Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye) ‘King of the Cowboys’, singer, married to Dale Evans

.1929 ~ McKinney’s Cotton Pickers picked and fiddled their way to the Victor studios to record Plain Dirt. Among those pickin’ and grinnin’ were luminaries such as Fats Waller (on piano), Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins.

.1931 ~ Ike Turner, American soul-rock singer, pianist and guitarist, duo with Ike and Tina Turner Revue, owner of a recording studio

.1936 ~ Billy Sherrill, Songwriter, musician: saxophone, record producer, VP/Executive Producer of CBS Nashville

.1941 ~ Art Garfunkel, American folk-rock singer, songwriter and actor, duo ~Simon and Garfunkel

OCMS 1942 ~ George M. Cohan passed away at the age of 64. Cohan was a legendary songwriter whose spirited and star~spangled tunes lit up Broadway and will be a part of Americana forever.
More information about Cohan

.1946 ~ Gram Parsons (Cecil Ingram Connor), Singer with The Byrds, songwriter

.1947 ~ Peter Noone (Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone), Guitarist, piano, singer, Herman of Herman’s Hermits, actor

.1955 ~ The Vienna State Opera House in Austria formally opened, celebrating the end of 17 years of foreign occupation.

.1959 ~ Bryan Adams, Singer, songwriter

.1963 ~ Andrea McArdle, Actress, singer in Annie

.1977 ~ Guy Lombardo passed away at the age of 75. He was a musical fixture for decades, especially on New Year’s Eve. Guy Lombardo, leader of the Royal Canadians, is fondly remembered for many songs he made famous but his most popular remains Auld Lang Syne.

.1986 ~ Dick Clark registered for an initial public stock offering for his TV production company (DCP). On the registration form, he called his product ‘mind candy’.

OCMS 1989 ~ Vladimir Horowitz passed away
Read more about Horowitz

.1989 ~ Barry Sadler passed away

.2000 ~ Frances Mercer, a leading model of the 1930s who went on to star in films, radio, television and on Broadway, died at the age of 85. Chosen as one of New York’s most beautiful models while still in her teens, Mercer made her film debut in 1938 playing Ginger Rogers’ rival for James Stewart’s affections in “Vivacious Lady.” In the next two years Mercer made eight more movies, including “The Mad Miss Manton” opposite Barbara Stanwyck. In theater work, she had costarring roles in the Broadway musicals “All the Things You Are” and “Something for the Boys.” Mercer also had her own New York-based radio show, “Sunday Night at Nine.” On TV, Mercer played a vituperative mother-in-law on the soap opera “For Better or Worse” and surgical nurse Ann Talbot in the 1955-1957 syndicated series, “Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal.”

.2000 ~ Jack O’Brian, a newspaper columnist and Associated Press critic who wrote about television and Broadway gossip, died at the age of 86. O’Brian chronicled soap opera plot twists and celebrities and the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. The cultural figures who met with his approval included Bert Lahr, Perry Como and Walter Cronkite. He took a job as a cub reporter with a Buffalo newspaper and established a reputation for cantankerousness when he skewered the local orchestra’s young accordionists. He joined the AP as its drama and movie critic in 1943. Later, he wrote about television and Broadway for a string of newspapers and a nationally syndicated column. He also hosted a WOR-AM radio show.

October 31 ~ This Day in Music History

Happy Halloween

Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) is an ancient celebration dating back to the sixth or seventh centuries. This holiday combines the Druid autumn festival and the Christian celebration of Hallowtide, long associated with witches, ghosts, devils, spirits, magic … and all scary things that go bump in the night.

• 1896 ~ Ethel Waters, American blues and jazz singer

• 1906 ~ Louise Talma, American composer

• 1912 ~ Dale Evans (Frances Butts), Singer, songwriter of Happy Trails to You, actress, wife of ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers

• 1922 ~ Illinois (Battiste) Jacquet, Tenor saxophone, played with Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Count Basie

• 1927 ~ Anita Kerr, Pianist, singer, record producer, The Anita Kerr Singers, composer

• 1930 ~ In a rare recording, William ‘Count’ Basie sang with Bennie Moten’s orchestra, Somebody Stole My Gal, on Victor.

• 1934 ~ Tom Paxton, American folk singer, guitarist and songwriter

• 1947 ~ Russ Ballard, Singer, songwriter, guitar with Argent

• 1952 ~ Bernard Edwards, Bass with Chic

• 1953 ~ NBC televised “Carmen” on Opera Theatre in living color. It was the first major opera televised in anything other than black and white.

• 1956 ~ Tony Bowers, Bass with Simply Red

• 1961 ~ Larry Mullen, Grammy Award-winning drummer, with U2

• 1963 ~ Johnny Marr, Guitarist with The Smiths

• 1972 ~ Curtis Mayfield received a gold record for Freddie’s Dead from the movie, Superfly.

• 1984 ~ Caribbean Queen became a gold record for Billy Ocean. It was Ocean’s second hit song and the only one of his 11 hits to become a million-seller. He would have two other #1 songs and a pair of #2 hits, but none as big as Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run). Billy’s from Trinidad, and his real name is Leslie Sebastian Charles.

maryorednpurplewitch

October 30 ~ This Day in Music History

today

• 1894 ~ Peter Warlock, British composer and writer

• 1939 ~ Grace Slick (Wing), American rock singer and songwriter with Jefferson Airplane

• 1939 ~ Eddie Holland, Songwriter in the writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. They were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, singer

• 1941 ~ Otis Williams, Singer with The Temptations

• 1941 ~ The song that would become the theme of bandleader Tony Pastor was recorded. It was Blossoms on the Bluebird label. If you don’t remember Blossoms, maybe you remember this one by Pastor: Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking).

• 1947 ~ Timothy B. Schmit, Bass guitarist, singer with Poco, who joined The Eagles, in 1977, (1977 US No.1 & UK No.8 single ‘Hotel California’, plus 5 US No.1 albums. ‘Greatest Hits 1971-1975’ is the second biggest selling album in the world with sales over 30m).

• 1957 ~ Shlomo Mintz, Russian-born Israeli violinist

• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison went gold with his hit single, Oh, Pretty Woman.

• 1971 ~ Pink Floyd released their sixth studio album Meddle in the US. The album features ‘One Of These Days’ and the 23-minute track ‘Echoes’ which took up all of side 2 on the vinyl record. The cover image was photographed by Bob Dowling. The image represents an ear, underwater, collecting waves of sound, represented by ripples in the water.

• 1972 ~ A command performance was given for the Queen of England by Elton John.

• 1976 ~ The group, Chicago, started its second (and final) week at number one on the pop singles charts with If You Leave Me Now. The hottest LP was Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”. The album was number one for a total of 14 weeks.

• 1984 ~ Barry Manilow opened at Radio City Music Hall, New York. His concerts sold out to the tune of $1.9 million, besting (by $100,000) the record set by Diana Ross.

• 1984 ~ Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, aka The Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood), hit the two-million-dollar sales mark with their LP, Briefcase Full of Blues.

• 2000 ~ Steve Allen, the bespectacled, droll comedian who pioneered late-night television with the original “Tonight Show” and wrote more than 4,000 songs and 40 books, passed away. He died at the age of 78 of an apparent heart attack. In addition to starting the “Tonight Show,” Allen starred as the King of Swing in the 1956 movie “The Benny Goodman Story.” He appeared in Broadway shows, on soap operas, wrote newspaper columns, commented on wrestling broadcasts, made 40 record albums, and wrote plays and a television series that featured “guest appearances” by Sigmund Freud, Clarence Darrow and Aristotle. “I’ve known him for almost 60 years. … He is one of the great renaissance figures of today,” comic Art Linkletter said. Said entertainer Dick Clark: “He had a magnificent mind. He was a kind, gentle, warm man. He would be embarrassed for me now, because I can’t put into words the way I felt about this man. I loved him.” His ad-libbing skills became apparent in his early career as a disc jockey. He once interrupted the music to announce: “Sports fans, I have the final score for you on the big game between Harvard and William & Mary. It is: Harvard 14, William 12, Mary 6.” Allen’s most enduring achievement came with the introduction of “The Tonight Show” in 1953. The show began as “Tonight” on the New York NBC station WNBT, then moved to the network on Sept. 27, 1954. Amid the formality of early TV, “Tonight” was a breath of fresh air. The show began with Allen noodling at the piano, playing some of his compositions and commenting wittily on events of the day. “It was tremendous fun to sit there night after night reading questions from the audience and trying to think up funny answers to them; reading angry letters to the editor; introducing the greats of comedy, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood; welcoming new comedians like Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, Mort Sahl and Don Adams,” he once said. Allen’s popularity led NBC in 1956 to schedule “The Steve Allen Show” on Sunday evenings opposite “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS. A variation of “Tonight,” the prime-time show was notable for its “Man in the Street Interview” featuring new comics Louis Nye (“Hi-ho, Steverino”), Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington and Bill Dana. The show lasted through 1961, the last year was on ABC. Among his TV routines: parodying juvenile rock ‘n’ roll lyrics by reading them as if they were sublime poetry, and “The Question Man,” in which someone would give him an answer and he would guess the question – forerunner to Johnny Carson’s “Karnac.” He wrote great quantities of songs, and several were recorded by pop vocalists. His most popular song was This May Be the Start of Something Big. His books ranged from autobiography (“Hi-Ho, Steverino: My Adventures in the Wonderful Wacky World of TV”), to philosophy (“Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality,” to murder mystery (“Die Laughing.”) Steve Allen came by his humor naturally; both his parents, Billy Allen and Belle Montrose, were vaudeville comedians. Steve was 18 months old when his father died, and his mother continued touring the circuits as a single.

• 2003 ~ Franco Corelli, a dashing Italian tenor who once starred alongside Maria Callas, died at the age of 82. Corelli rose to operatic stardom in the 1950s and remained there well into the 1970s. “He was the most viscerally thrilling and handsome tenor of the post Second World War generation,” the late Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan once said of Corelli. Born in 1921, Corelli grew up a keen singer but his opera career did not really take off until 1951. He made his debut that year singing Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen.” Three years later he appeared alongside Maria Callas in Gaspare Spontini’s “La Vestale” in Milan. The Italian’s fame spread and before long his career took him to Paris, Vienna, London and New York. His versatile voice and good looks made him a popular choice for romantic lead roles.