Since my family only received NBC affiliate KARK out of Little Rock, Arkansas, I only remember the Perry Como Show from its hour-long format beginning in 1955 and running on Saturday nights from 7:00 pm until 8:00 pm CST through 1959. It then changed to Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm until it left the air in 1963. It was a program I seldom missed, especially during its first few seasons.
The reader might be surprised at the number of hit records Perry Como released in the 1940's and 1950's. Often he charted several songs at the same time. Even with the advent of rock 'n' roll, Perry continued placing songs at the top of the pop charts. He used his show to introduce and to promote his recordings. I remember such hits as "Round and Round," "Hot Diggity," "Catch a Falling Star," and "Magic Moments" being sung for the first time on his show.
His program was almost as easy-going as his crooning. He would begin with "Dream along with me, I'm on my way to a star...." then chat for a few minutes with the studio audience and the viewers at home in a relaxed manner reminding many of President Franklin Roosevelt's famous fireside chats only with much less gravity.
Frank Gallop was the announcer with a deep voice, contrary to Perry's, who always confronted Perry from offstage with some sort of humorous dilemma. Frank became so popular with Perry's fans that he even released a few comedy recordings himself, such as the hilarious "The Ballad of Irving."
One part of the Perry Como Show that was well received by the viewers was the "We get letters" segment each week. A bevy of beauties would serenade Perry with "Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters!" Perry would then attempt to comply with a request from a home viewer, usually a particular song the writer wanted Perry to sing.
Perry's show was such a phenomenal hit that he was able to attract big name guests which made the show even more appealing. Perry would joke around with the guests who in turn would make amusing quips, for example, one guest called him "Perry Coma." Another would comment on Perry being a barber before becoming a singer and so on; all in fun and the audience loved it.
Perry always tried to end on a serious note, usually doing a religious or inspirational type selection. The closing theme was, "You Are Never Far Away." Perry was assisted by the Ray Charles Singers (not the famous soul musician, Ray Charles) and the Louis Da Pron Dancers.
Though I was in my early teens and an avid rock 'n' roll fan, I still enjoyed watching The Perry Como Show as one of the finest variety shows on the tube at the time.
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