Enthusiastic attention today for impressionist, comedian and singer Guy Marks (Mario Scarpa, 1923-1987).
The son of a musician in the RCA orchestra, Marks spent his young adulthood in the service, spending two years in the U.S. army and six in the merchant marine. He began performing in nightclubs in his native South Philly with friends and roommates Eddie Fisher and Al Martino. A winner on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, he began to appear frequently on tv starting 1959/60, with his impressions of stars like Humphrey Bogart, Boris Karloff, etc. You could see him on The Tonight Show (under both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson), as well as the variety and talks shows of Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas.
Marks was also a regular on four different sitcoms: The Joey Bishop Show (1962-63), The John Forsythe Show (1965-66), Rango (1967, as a Native American, a role almost analagous to fellow Italian-American Frank de Kova on F Troop), and the Jack Klugman vehicle You Again? (1986). He is also well remembered for guest shots on popular series, as when he played Rose Marie’s boyfriend on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and a Karloffesque horror host on The Odd Couple.
Most relevant to latter-day vaudeville lovers, however, was his 1968 faux-twenties novelty hit “Loving You Has Made Me Bananas”, which is very much in the vein of then contemporary acts of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Tiny Tim, and The New Vaudeville Band (“Winchester Cathedral”).
To learn more about variety entertainment, including tv variety, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.
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