Monday, March 6, 2017

Coke Time with Eddie Fisher (NBC-TV, aired November 5, 1954)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2017 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

After that I watched an episode of the 15-minute 1954 “Coke Time” show featuring Eddie Fisher — a holdover from the days of radio in which singers had frequently been given 15-minute time slots to fill in the broadcast day, which carried over into early TV. This seems to have been done around the same time as Fisher’s intriguing guest appearance on the Colgate Comedy Hour because he sings one of the same songs he sang on that show: “Fanny,” the title song from the 1954 musical Fanny, based on Marcel Pagnol’s French trilogy of plays set in and around the docks of Marseilles and basically about a young sailor torn between wanting to settle down with his girlfriend Fanny and feeling the Call of the Sea that makes him want to ship out again. Fanny carried over some of the same personnel as the mega-hit South Pacific, including director Joshua Logan and stars Ezio Pinza and William Tabbert, but the cast member featured alongside Fisher on this vest-pocket program was the show’s female lead, Florence Henderson. (In honor of her most famous role listed this episode as featuring “Mrs. Brady.”) She sang the show’s big romantic ballad, “I Have to Tell You” (at least I think that’s what it was called), and joined Fisher on the last chorus of “Fanny.” Fisher also sang a bit of his theme song, “May I?,” a novelty called “Papa Loves Mambo” that had actually been a hit for his rival Perry Como (the other big-name crooner on RCA Victor in the early 1950’s), and Russ Columbo’s hit “Prisoner of Love,” in which Fisher sang with unusual soul for him even though either Axel Stordahl’s arrangement or the sound mix had the orchestra come awfully close to drowning him out.