Bert Parks does Paul McCartney

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Today is the birthday of Bert Parks (1914-1992). He started out as a singer and straight man on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in the early 30s. He went on to host several game shows, and then the gig he was best known for, m.c. of the Miss America Pageant 1955-1979. There was much brouhaha at the time about how he was unjustly fired from that post. But, you know what? No. Just, no. He was the epitome of unhip by that time, and not remotely in a good way. He represented everything that was wrong with mid 20th century show business: was repulsive, unctious, embarrassing. You think those words are too strong? Look at this 1976 clip of him performing the Paul McCartney song “Let ‘Em In”, which was a hit that year for McCartney and Wings. For some reason, Parks turns it into a gay minstrel number. Even more unaccountably, at a certain point in the song, the crowd goes wild!

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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