Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sounds of America, February 1961

On February 17, 1961, NBC aired a show called "The Sounds of America" which was part of the Bell Telephone Hour (1959-1968). The show was about a group of children visiting Disneyland, traveling by train through Frontierland, by steamboat to hear Mark Twain (played by Dwight Marfield) spin tales of his life on the Mississippi River, and then visiting Main Street U.S.A. to hear the Disneyland Marching Band (led by Vesey Walker). Hermes Pan was the choreographer for this hour long show, and also the one who got a career started for Ruth & Jane Earl, the twins that were featured in this program.

Here's the publicity blurb that accompanied this photo:

FEB. 12, 1961: The Bell Telephone Hour Friday on NBC-TV, "The Sounds of America," was taped in Disneyland. Above, Jacques D'Amboise, Ruth and Jane Earl, and Gene Nelson, left to right, dance down Main Street. Gordon Jenkins wrote the score.

D'Amboise was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, where ballets were especially created for him by famous choreographer George Balanchine. He also had a number of roles in classic Hollywood musicals such as "Carousel" (1956) and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954).

See more vintage & current Disneyland Main Street U.S.A. East Center Street photos at my regular website.


Chiana_Chat said...

Gene Nelson is probably most known today in his role of Will in the 1955 film of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! "I got to Kansas City on a Friday..."

Gordon Jenkins was one of the top 5 classic pop arrangers with particular skills at strings and chorus as well as a composer of some classic songs.

Hermes Pan collaborated with Fred Astaire for most of Astaire's classic films (and also looked a bit like him!).

Major Pepperidge said...

I'd love to see that episode of The Bell Telephone Hour!

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm assuming the area that they are dancing in is East Center St. It looks like they covered the facades of the middle building and the one to the right of it with tarps. I wonder why.

Chiana_Chat said...

Dave do you know if this show still exists?

Daveland said...

Chiana - wish I knew, but I wasn't able to find it on youtube.

Chiana_Chat said...

@ TM! - lack of clearing or conflicts with visible brand names? Alternately, light from and reflections in windows. It had to have been a real quick setup for the shoot and there may well have been no time to address it.

@ Dave - hm not a good sign. Lot of pre-'70s TV history lost or might as well be between the legal burdens and some parties indulging wishful thinkin' given the small markets. How did you find out about this?

Daveland said...

Chiana - I'd never heard of this program until I bought this photo and saw the publicity blurb on the back. A little web research helped give me some of the other info I added to the post. And Chris - I agree...definitely East Center Street. Whatever they covered up with the tarps must have interfered with what they were filming; sponsorship reasons or perhaps there was construction going on at the time.

Connie Moreno said...

Wow, you just never know what you're gonna find!!

disneyphenom said...

This episode was filmed while the park was closed, so throughout the presentation you can see similar tarps and coverings blocking the ticket windows, attraction entrances, etc.

Note that the tarps are blocking the entry to the locker area and the ice cream window. This sort of thing is very obvious earlier in the show when the carousel and the Fantasyland ticket booth are similarly closed up, while dancers perform on the Castle drawbridge and in the Fantasyland Courtyard.

Think of it as the Disneyland version of filming after-hours at a shopping mall. You have access to the main walkways still, but all of the stores have their doors closed or security gates closed.