Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DOUGLAS MEMORIES

"Here's Mike!"

I grew up in the 70s, starting high school in 1983. I realize that makes me older than most of my readers (at least according to most blog demographics), but time does that and you'll all be here some day soon.

I remember the Mike Douglas Show, I used to watch it once in a while, along with the Merv Griffin Show. And by "once in a while" I mean I watched it once a season, maybe. We didn't see a lot of TV when I grew up, we were too busy running around playing outside, drawing, building things with Lego, etc.

Mike Douglas always struck me as an old guy trying to be young and hip. Looking back now I realize he was sort of hip for the times, but he was that odd cool that the 70s produced when the establishment was shifting and a lot of older icons put on young-looking clothes and tried to fit in. It never really seemed to work for me, but the show was on for 21 years, until its end in 1982.

Mike Douglas was the voice of Prince Charming in the Disney Cinderella cartoon. Most of his career was lounge singing although he did a stint with the Kay Kyser orchestra. His hipster credentials not very strong, but the show was actually more interesting than I thought as a kid.

For instance, he had Frank Zappa on the show. In fact, he had a lot of really interesting, great acts like ELO, James Brown, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, and the Rolling Stones. Douglas didn't have a set cohost, he had a different person each week, such as Minnie Pearl, Don Rickles, Jimmy Dean, Martha Rae, and so on. Most were singers, others were fellow Vegas-style acts, but it was a long rotation of different people (I recall seeing Rickles on one show).

Tiger Woods at age 2 was on the show showing off his golf swing for Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart.



Harrison Ford (and the other Star Wars cast promoting the new movie in 1977), Red Foxx, Moe Howard, Alfred Hitchcock, Roy Clark, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King jr and many others were on the show. The acts also included the people I most remember, the recycled 70s B level semi talents like Marcel Marceau, Lola Falana, Connie Francis, Charlie Callas and so on. I swear these guys survived only by moving from one talk show to the next with little actual work.

Some of the guests and acts were the zenith of cool at the time, like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but today are awkwardly 70s or just so obscure you don't understand it, such as Professor Backwards or Marylin McCoo.

It is interesting to look back though, and see what things were more like than I recall. I never sat through a whole show, it always would go to a song by Liberace or a conversation between Jerry Vale and Joey Hetherton and I would go outside and play. When Mike would sing some crooner ballad to start out the show that was usually enough to switch channels or leave.


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