November 1, 2008

My Kind of History

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Eight years before I was born, there was a benefit at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis for the Dismas House, a half-way house for ex-cons getting out of prison. Joey Bishop was sick that night, so he had to defer his hosting duties to a young Johnny Carson. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra entertained, sang and got drunk for the crowd.

On my 25th birthday, TV Land aired this benefit. I taped it. Then watched it so many times over the next few years that the tape is now warped. I can't watch it anymore - I'm afraid if I put it in a VCR that I won't be able to get it out and then it will be lost forever.

Sammy Davis, Jr. sang, danced and did a whole bevy of impressions before he turned the stage over to Dean Martin. King of the Road - the way Dean Martin sings it - it tickles my toes. As he's singing it, Frank Sinatra is heckling him from backstage.

It's this little piece of history that comes alive. I remember watching a white-haired Johnny Carson tell jokes at night, but to see him when he's young and dark-haired and cavorting around with the Rat Pack, well, it's a little bit magical.

My two favorite pieces from this concert are Frank Sinatra singing My Kind of Town and the end collaboration with all the participants, which someone so fabulously put up on YouTube.

Someday I'm going to figure out how to transfer my warped video to a DVD, but until then, this clip from the concert will have to do.


Hey, It's Ansley said...

I think you could take apart the case and put the VCR tape and reels in another case.