Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1961.…“The Jack Paar show “

In 1961 my husband and I lived in NY City. We had two small children and were in an apartment on the 11th floor of an old building on West 94th St.

Television was coming in to it’s own by then and we loved to watch “The Jack Paar Show” after the evening news. (This, of course, is the TV success that became “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.)

I can remember so clearly a night when I was watching alone and my husband was in the next room doing paperwork. As I recall Jack Paar was not hosting that night and there were no big name guests listed to be interviewed.

Then the temporary host introduced the next guest who was a singer with the strange name of Barbra Streisand. (I was sure that a cast member was responsible for the misspelling !) He explained that this was her TV debut and that she would be singing her interpretation of the old Tin Pan Alley standard “Happy Days Are Here Again”.

This didn’t grab me particularly since, although I liked the lilting tune, I couldn’t see how this was an appropriate song for a singer trying to break in to the “big time”.

Then Barbra walked on stage, the lights dimmed and the orchestra played very softly in the background as she started to sing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She sang this normally upbeat song very, very slowly and each note was pure as a bell. I called to my husband and we listened, entranced, as she continued to sing and ended on a single note that seemed to go on forever. There was dead silence in the room and then the audience exploded … as did we, the two of us sitting alone in our apartment and clapping to beat the band.

I have never experienced another pop singer who impressed me as much as Barbra did that night. I was not at all surprised to read that her debut album “The Barbra Streisand Album”, released early in 1963 and including her rendition of “Happy Days” was voted Album of the Year and won three Grammy Awards.


Blogger kenju said...

Ginnie, I saw that same performance. I never missed Jack Paar in those days - loved him!! I remember being bowled over by the way she sang the song too.

9:37 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Wow, I only remember seeing the Jack Paar show a few times when we were back here in the states - I think it must have been 59 or 60... We did not have TV in the Middle East. I am not sure how old I was when I finally heard of Barbra - but she did have a magical way with songs that no one else could ever duplicate.
Remember when Paar got in trouble for using the term "water closet" on TV? What would he think today when a** and Bit** are used on the 6 o'clock news! To say nothing of the filth on the sitcoms. Amazing. And some folks call it progress.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Even here in Canada we watched Jack Paar. I thought he was a little sappy. It seems he could get sentimental and cry at a moments notice. Before him was Steve Allen who had this show and time slot. I always liked Steve Allen who was very clever and intelligent.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

what a treat that must have been for you Ginnie. I too remember the Jack Paar show but I didn't see that one.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

I can see it now, the two of you loking at the telly and being gob smacked by this awesome singer. Barbara Streisand never fails to captivate me whe she sings..her effortless way of bringing out those long notes..not a quaiver in her throat...she is an angel.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Hi Ginnie,
While I don't remember the Jack Parr show I do remember When Barbara first made her debut! One of y favorite earlier songs of hers was "Second Hand Rose". I remember singing to this as a little girl!
Love Di

7:00 AM  
Blogger Norma said...

I think I remember the same show, living in a 3rd floor apt. in Champaign, Il. What a remarkable voice, I thought.

2:57 PM  

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