Feb 28, 2019
By Gene Stevens
With this edition of ‘Vintage Favourites’, I’ll complete a trio of movie-related features. A couple weeks ago, it was ‘Going to the Movies’ with songs all about the movie-experience; last week it was ‘Oscar’s Landmark Best Songs’ spotlight. And this coming Sunday ‘The Singing Actors Edition’. There are many singers who became actors, some were remarkably successful in blending both media – movies and music. We think of superstars like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley who seemed equally at ease in a recording studio and on a stage, as they were up on ‘the silver screen’ – with their legendary names in the marquee lights, as likely as at the top of the pop charts. Many other singers tried the movies less often; either with more difficulty, or perhaps limited desire – names like Neil Diamond, Madonna, Mick Jagger and even The Beatles come to mind.
But the opposite direction – an actor giving singing a shot – has been less common, and certainly less successful. Yet, there have been some exceptions; usually in service of the on-screen performance. Bradley Cooper’s recent performance as a washed-up veteran singer in ‘A Star is Born’ was a ‘one-off’. He’s unlikely to launch a singing career. There have been some spectacular singing efforts by actors over the years – sometimes as a film-role, but sometimes apart from their on-screen work. And frankly, there are also cases where the song would likely not have been such a hit, if it weren’t for the marquee-name and the novelty-factor. I’ll explore that phenomenon with examples from some 6 decades of music (and movie) history in ‘The Singing Actors Edition’ of Vintage Favourites – from legendary blonde bombshells and sexy hunks to crusty old codgers wistfully looking back.
‘I’ll also have some terrific songs about Toronto in celebration of our city’s 185th birthday – March 6th 1834. I’ll also salute two iconic Toronto singers we recently lost – the incomparable Jackie Shane, who electrified the Yonge Street Strip with her unique performances in the 60s, and Frank Busseri, the last surviving member of Toronto’s legendary Four Lads. In the 1950s, The Lads became this country’s first major vocal group, and Frank kept the flame going with other, younger, members ever since. And in your year-long series featuring ‘the greatest groups of our time’, I’ll spotlight Creedence Clearwater Revival. It’ll be another great edition of ‘Vintage Favourites’ – I hope you’ll tune in Sunday at 2. Cheers.