The Little Old Lady From Pasadena – Highlights From the 4/3 Rock and Roll Revisited

Up Front:

Antitrust and The OscarsThe Justice Department warns the Academy about limiting Netflix participation. Via @Variety

Avengers: EndgameCrashes Ticket Sites as Theaters Brace for New Record. Via @Bloomberg. And the new Joker trailer is super dark, sparking Oscar talk for Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime.

The automobile is still where most of us listen to radio.. including, surprisingly, millennials. Via @jacobsmedia.

We love our pets. If you’re investing in pet food stocks, you’re feeling pretty good right now. Via @AP

Today in History:

TV Guide’s First Issue

1953 TV Guide magazine was published for the first time at its base in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Desi Arnaz, Jr. was the first “star” featured on the cover.

1959 The British Broadcasting Corporation banned the Coasters’ recording of ‘Charlie Brown‘ because of its reference to ‘spitballs.’ The ban was lifted two weeks later.

1966 Folk singer Peter Tork opened a solo stint at the Troubadour in Hollywood. At that point, Tork had auditioned for, but not yet secured, a role in ‘The Monkees’ TV series.

1968 At Mason Temple in Memphis, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his ‘I’ve been to the mountaintop’ speech, less than 24 hours before his assassination.

1969 The Doors’ Jim Morrison turned himself in to the FBI in Los Angeles. He was charged with inter-state flight to avoid prosecution on six charges of lewd behavior and public exposure at a concert in Miami on March 2, 1969. He was later released on $2000 bail.

1973 The first mobile phone call was made as Motorola executive Martin Cooper called his friend Joel Engel at Bell Laboratories from a New York City street. The inspiration for his invention was Captain Kirk’s communicator from the ‘Star Trek’ TV series.

Mary Ure in “Where Eagles Dare”

1975 Actress Mary Ure, wife of actor Robert Shaw, died of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates at 42.

1981 In San Francisco, the Osborne 1, the world’s first successful portable computer, was unveiled at the West Coast Computer Faire.

1985 After 57 years, the famed Brown Derby restaurant on Vine Street in Hollywood closed.

1989 Pepsi-Cola dismissed Madonna as a spokesperson after her ‘Like a Prayer’ video was called ‘blasphemous’ by the Vatican.

1990 Singer (Broken-Hearted Melody, C’est La Vie, Whatever Lola Wants, Make Yourself Comfortable) Sarah Vaughan died of lung cancer at 66.

1996 Rapper MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy, claiming debts of $10 million.

2007 Rolling Stone Keith Richards denied to MTV his own earlier claim in a New Musical Express interview that he once snorted the ashes of his deceased father during a drug binge.

2010 The Apple iPad went on sale.

2013 NBC-TV announced a late night switch, replacing Jay Leno as host of ‘The Tonight Show‘ with Jimmy Fallon and moving the franchise back to New York City, to be effective in the spring of 2014.

Happy Birthday to:
1924 Doris Day
1924 Marlon Brando (d. 2004)
1941 Jan Berry (d. 2004)
1941 Philippe Wynne (d. 1984)
1942 Wayne Newton
1942 Billy Joe Royal (d. 2015)
1944 Tony Orlando
1946 Dee Murray (d. 1992)

Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting: “Older people shouldn’t eat health food, they need all the preservatives they can get.” ~Robert Orben


The Little Old Lady from Pasadena
Every now and then an idea and an individual collide to create an icon. In 1984 Clara Peller propelled Wendy’s to the front of our consciousness when she asked, “Where’s the Beef?” Twenty years earlier, a 72 year old character actress was the inspiration for a top 10 smash for Jan & Dean.

In the mid 1950s, Kathryn Minner and her husband, Sam, followed their son from New Jersey to Southern California when his insurance job transferred him there. in 1957, at age 65, she made her first television appearance in the “Big Switch” episode of Dragnet. For the next decade, she played the archetypical little old lady in a wide array of television and movie assignments from “I Spy” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” to Disney’s “Love Bug”. She came into her acting prime in the wake of a series of ten TV commercials for the Southern California Dodge Dealers, promoting their popular muscle cars with the tag line, “Put a Dodge in your garage, honey!”

It was the era of the hot rod and when Brian Wilson needed to add authenticity to his automotive lyrics, he turned to future KHJ Boss Jock Roger Christian. Together, they crafted “Ballad of Ole’ Betsy”, “Car Crazy Cutie”, “Cherry, Cherry Coupe”, “Don’t Worry Baby”, “In the Parkin’ Lot”, “Little Deuce Coupe”, “No-Go Showboat”, “Shut Down” and “Spirit of America.”

But Christian didn’t just write for the Beach Boys. The Wilsons were early supporters of the duo of Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, sometimes appearing on double-bills and covering one another’s hits. Christian’s pen contributed to six Jan and Dean hits, including their two biggest, “Dead Man’s Curve” and “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena”.

Christian was inspired by Minner’s Dodge commercials and, writing with Jan Berry, put her character on a hit record. “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” peaked at number three on the Billboard charts. It became Keener’s Key Song of the Week on June 11, 1964, climbing to number eleven on the 2nd of July. A Beach Boy cover version appears on their “Beach Boys Concert” LP.

Minner continued to work prolifically until her death on May 28, 1969. Her final role was in the Andy Griffith vehicle, “Angel In My Pocket“. But her spirit lives every time we take out the Liberty Records 45 that she helped to create. (Video)