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Allan Sherman: Writer, producer, singer and brilliant comic parodist

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

 

Fun Facts About Allan Sherman

Birth and Death: November 30, 1924 – November 20, 1973

Most known for: An American comedy writer who became famous as a song parodist in the early 1960s.

First album: My Son, the Folk Singer (1962). It became the fastest-selling record album up to that time.

Biggest hit: Sherman’s biggest hit single was “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, a comic novelty in which a boy describes his summer camp experiences to the tune of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.

Allan Copelon?: Sherman took his mother’s maiden name after being abandoned in childhood by his father, Percy Copelon, a stock car racer, mechanic, and inventor. Much later, Copelon offered to pay for Sherman’s education if he would re-take the family name, but when no support was forthcoming, the young man became Allan Sherman once again.

TV Show Writer and Producer: Sherman created a game show, which he called “I Know a Secret.” TV producer Mark Goodson used Sherman’s idea and turned it into I’ve Got a Secret, which ran on CBS from 1952 to 1967. Rather than paying him for the concept, Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions made Sherman the show’s producer. Sherman was reported to be warm and kindhearted to all who worked for him. But sparks often flew between Sherman and anyone who was in a position to try to restrain his creativity.

As producer of I’ve Got a Secret, which was broadcast live, he showed a fondness for large scale stunts that had the potential to teeter on the brink of disaster. He once released 100 bunny rabbits onstage as an Easter surprise for the Madison Square Boys Club, whose members were seated in the studio. The boys were invited to come up onstage to collect their prize. Although the resultant melee made a good story, it did not necessarily make for good TV. The relationship between Mark Goodson-Bill Todman and Sherman became strained to the breaking point when he finally fought to execute an idea that was destined to fall flat. His plan was to have Tony Curtis teach the panel how to play some of the games he had played as a child growing up in New York City. The problems manifested themselves when it became obvious that Tony Curtis had never actually played any of the games that Sherman had brought the props for. The situation might have been salvaged had the props worked as planned, but they did not. The handkerchief parachute failed to open and land gracefully and the pool “tank” which was propelled by rubber band moved painfully slowly. The spot, which aired June 11, 1958, was a disaster and Sherman was fired as producer. His dismissal did not, however, prevent Mark Goodson-Bill Todman from bringing Sherman back many times as a guest on their shows in subsequent years after he achieved celebrity status following the release of his albums.

Sherman also produced a short-lived 1954 game show, What’s Going On? which was technologically ambitious, with studio guests interacting with multiple live cameras in remote locations. In 1961 he produced a daytime game show for Al Singer Productions called Your Surprise Package which aired on CBS with host George Fenneman.

My Son, The Folk Singer: Sherman lived in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles next door to Harpo Marx, who invited him to perform his song parodies at parties attended by Marx’s show-biz friends. After one party, George Burns phoned a record executive and persuaded him to sign Sherman to a contract. The result was a long playing album of these parodies, entitled My Son, the Folk Singer, which was released in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

My Son, The Celebrity: My Son, the Folk Singer was so successful that it was quickly followed by My Son, the Celebrity, which ended with “Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other,” fragments of song parodies including Robert Burns’: “Dinna make a stingy sandwich, pile the cold cuts high;/Customers should see salami comin’ thru the rye.”

Success with Top 40 Hit: In 1963’s My Son, The Nut, Sherman’s pointed parodies of classical and popular tunes dealt with automation in the workforce (“Automation,” to the tune of “Fascination”), space travel (“Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue,” to “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”), the exodus from the city to the suburbs (“Here’s to the Crabgrass,” to the tune of “English Country Garden”), and his own bloated figure (“Hail to Thee, Fat Person,” which perhaps only half-jokingly blames his obesity on the Marshall Plan).

One track from My Son, The Nut, a spoof of summer camp entitled “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” became a surprise novelty hit, reaching #2 on the national Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in late 1963. The lyrics were sung to the tune of one segment of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”, familiar to the public because of its use in the Walt Disney film Fantasia. That December, Sherman’s “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas” single appeared on Billboard’s separate Christmas chart. Sherman had one other Top 40 hit, a 1965 take-off on the Petula Clark hit “Downtown” called “Crazy Downtown”, which spent one week at #40. Two other Sherman singles charted in the lower regions of the Billboard 100: an updated “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh” (#59 in 1964), and “The Drinking Man’s Diet” (#98 in 1965). He “Bubbled Under” with “The End Of A Symphony”, reaching #113 in 1964, spotlighting Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Orchestra.

Decline in Popularity: Sherman’s career success was short-lived: after peaking in 1963, his popularity declined rather quickly. After the JFK assassination, impersonator Vaughn Meader vowed to never again do a Kennedy impression, and perhaps because of this ominous shadow – Meader was a very popular parody impressionist of the day – and the resulting reluctance to book such acts, the public saw less of Sherman’s type of comedy. By 1965, Sherman had released two albums that did not make the Top 50 and in 1966, Warner Brothers dropped him from the label. His last album for the company, Togetherness, was released in 1967 to poor reviews and poorer sales. All of Sherman’s previous releases had been recorded in front of a live studio audience – or in the case of Live, Hoping You Are The Same, recorded during a Las Vegas performance – but Togetherness was not, and the lack of an audience and their response affected the result, as did the nondescript backup singers and studio orchestra.

On and Off Broadway: In 1969, Sherman wrote the script and lyrics – but not the music, which was written by Albert Hague – for The Fig Leaves Are Falling, a flop Broadway musical that lasted only four performances in 1969, despite direction by George Abbott and a cast that included Barry Nelson, Dorothy Loudon and David Cassidy. Still creative, in 1973 Sherman published the controversial The Rape of the A*P*E*, which detailed his point of view on American Puritanism and the sexual revolution.

With Dr. Suess: In 1971, Sherman was the voice of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” for the television special. He also did voice work for Dr. Seuss on the Loose, his last project before his death.

Death: Late in his life, Sherman drank and ate heavily, which resulted in a dangerous weight gain; he later developed diabetes and struggled with lung disease. In 1966, his wife Dee filed for divorce, and received full custody of their son and daughter.

Sherman lived on unemployment for a time and moved into the Motion Picture Home, near Calabasas, California for a short time in order to lose weight. He died of emphysema at home in West Hollywood ten days before his 49th birthday. He is entombed in Culver City, California’s Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

Legacy: Sherman was the inspiration for a new generation of developing parodists such as “Weird Al” Yankovic, who pays homage to Sherman on the cover of his first LP. Sherman’s hit song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” has been translated into other languages. In one notable example, the Dutch-Swedish poet Cornelis Vreeswijk has translated the song into Swedish and adopted it as his own.

 

Video: Hello Muddah Hello Faddah (1963)

Bonus Video: Harvey and Sheila (1963)

 

Special thanks to www.mahalo.com and www.youtube.com
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Toronto: Canada’s Bustling Metropolis and Jewel of the North

Toronto, Capital of Ontario Province, Canada

Toronto, Capital of Ontario Province, Canada

Fun Facts About Toronto

  • Southern Ontario
    Southern Ontario

    Toronto was founded in 1793, by the British because of its protected harbour as well as advantages of vast forests, countless river valleys and fresh water lakes in its territory.

  • Toronto (GTA) is Canada’s largest city and is home to over 5.7 million Canadians.
  • Toronto is the capital city of Ontario, and the most important city in Canada.
  • Toronto is located in Southern Ontario which has shorelines on four of the five Great Lakes.
  • Also, Southern Ontario is located, further south than parts of ten, northern states of the USA.
  • The province of Ontario (415,000 square miles, in area) is larger than the state of Texas (267,000 square miles, in area) located in the southern USA.
  • Toronto residents hold more university educations than in any other country in the world, based on percentage of the population, as referenced from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and last compiled in 2003.
  • Within an afternoon drive from Toronto, seven million, more Canadians live and prosper.
  • Ontario highways are well maintained and link with major freeways connecting Toronto with all of Canada and the USA.
  • Toronto is the largest, financial centre in Canada and the fourth largest, economic centre in all of North America. Only, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, USA have larger economic centres.
  • Toronto is Canada’s cultual, educational, entertainment, financial, high tech, commercial and industrial centre. Toronto is also, the “Silicon Valley” of Canada, and Toronto is known as “Hollywood North”. Los Angeles and New York are larger film and television centres.
  • Toronto’s famous, theatre district is second in size only, to New York city, in the USA.
  • Award-winning, theatre productions enjoy long runs, large audiences and world premieres in the theatre and entertainment district of downtown Toronto.
  • Toronto’s Police Force is one of the most efficient, friendly and respected of all police forces in the world. Also, with respect to your safety and security, the city of Toronto is one of the most clean, safe, peaceful, large, cosmopolitan cities in the world.
  • All major federally chartered, Canadian banks have world headquarters in downtown Toronto, including, the Bank of Montreal which is located at “First Canadian” Tower, in Toronto’s financial district. As well, all foreign banks have their Canadian headquarters in Toronto.
  • Casa Loma (Home on Hill)
    Casa Loma (Home on Hill)

    Canada’s largest general, life and re-insurance companies and other financial institutions have their world headquarters in downtown Toronto. Canada’s version of “Wall Street” is called “Bay Street” in the centre of Toronto’s financial and business district.

  • Within an hour’s drive of downtown Toronto is the greatest concentration of industry and auto manufacturing in Canada. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda and others have Canadian head offices, and large manufacturing plants in the Toronto GTA.
  • Toronto has the only, real castle in all of North America. Most people never forget “Casa Loma” (home on hill) with vista views of the downtown skyline of Toronto, and of Great Lake Ontario.
  • Toronto has beautiful islands protecting its natural harbour. The islands are a mix of parklands, nature reserves and protected wetlands, maintained by the Parks Department responsible for this unique, natural resource. No private vehicles are permitted on the Toronto islands.
  • The Toronto Islands are reached by public ferry boats crossing the Toronto harbour.
  • On the islands, the city seems far removed, and a feeling of being in the country prevails just a mile offshore from Toronto’s exciting, vibrant downtown.
  • English is the primary, and first language spoken in Toronto and in Canada. “French-Canadian” (an old dialect) is Canada’s second, official language. Other minority groups speak over 100 languages in Toronto.
  • The laws of Toronto, and Canada are based on British law and English parliamentary system of government except for the separatist “state” of French Quebec, located three hundred miles (500 km) to the north and east from downtown Toronto.
  • Less than a two hour drive, north of Toronto is the “Muskoka Lakes” Region where beautiful lakes, rivers and forests are set in the wilderness, and as it looked, many hundreds of years ago.
  • One of the wonders of the world, Niagara Falls is just, an hour away by car from Toronto.
  • People are amazed at the great volume of water that spills over the (Canadian) Horseshoe,
  • Niagara Falls, each second, as they stand, less than 20 feet (3 meters) from the “Brink”.
Special thanks to www.personaltours.ca

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