Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
Rhapsody In Rhythm
(On The Radio, Part I)

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on Feb 26, 2020





Rhapsody In Rhythm

During the 1940s and 1950s, Peggy Lee's voice was frequently heard over the airwaves. She guest-starred in a wide variety of radio programming, most of it naturally falling within the musical variety genre -- from network shows such as Songs By Sinatra, Kraft Music Hall Starring Al Jolson, and The Ford Show With Dinah Shore to various original series created by the American Forces, including the well-known Jubilee, Command Performance, Let's Go To Town, and Guest Star shows. Lee also served as the girl singer on two programs hosted by very popular radio personalities (Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante), and she herself (co-)hosted at least four radio series. The first of them, Rhapsody In Rhythm, was broadcast on the CBS network and sponsored by the P. Lorillard company, producer of the Old Gold cigarette brand.

Rhapsody In Rhythm aired over two consecutive summers, of which only the second had Peggy Lee as its hostess. During the first summer, Jan Savitt And His Orchestra, Connie Haines, The Golden Gate Quartet and pianist Skitch Henderson shared time every Sunday at 10:30 p.m. from June 16 to September 15, 1946. Through the fast-paced, music-packed half hour, announcer Art Gilmore kept the proceedings in order. The season's second episode, broadcast on June 23, 1946, has been issued by Collectors' Choice on a CD named after the show and credited to Jan Savitt And His Orchestra. Savitt, Haines, Henderson and the Quartet are all heard.

The second season of Rhapsody In Rhythm aired on a different day (Wednesday) and time (9:00 p.m.). It began on June 11 and concluded on September 17, 1947. Throughout, Peggy Lee served as hostess and female vocalist, while the male hosting-singing spot alternated between Johnny Johnston -- who happened to be one of Lee's Capitol labelmates -- and Buddy Clark -- who had once been, according to one Lee biography, a flame of hers. Under this alternate arrangement, Peggy Lee paired up with Johnny Johnston in the debut episode, and with Buddy Clark in the second episode. Similarly, Lee and Clark were heard in the August 13 episode to be detailed below, whereas Johnston was the man singing with Lee on the installment that followed (August 20). Also part of the second season's cast were a gospel-oriented group called The Jubalaires and the so-called swing harpist Robert Maxwell. Frank Goss served as the announcer on the earlier episodes, Marvin miller on later episodes. Other names listed in promotional ads for the program included Phil Regin and Griffin Williams. Present during both summer seasons was Jan Savitt And His Orchestra. They provided the main accompaniment for the program's vocalists and also played instrumentals on their own ("jived up" versions of classical music, according to a reviewer who will be quoted at more length below, though other data suggests that straight swingers and standards were played, too). Each episode was 30 minutes long.

The July 1947 issue of Capitol News promoted Lee's new gig as follows: "[t]aking over Frank Sinatra's Wednesday night mike for Old Gold ciggies, strictly for the summer season, were Peggy Lee and the Jan Savitt band. The new series was launched on June 11 with two male chanters, Johnnie Johnston and Buddy Clark, selected to alternate every week as Miss Lee's partner. Robert Maxwell, for years featured harpist with Matty Malneck, also is given a fat spot in the weekly stanzas."

Reviewing the premiere, Variety found nothing to dislike, and plenty to praise:  "[t]he 1947 edition of Old Gold's summer show is fresh, easy to take and welcome. A good compilation of popular music items, it has variety in entertainers as in music styles, and is expertly put together, despite the disarming, engaging informal attitude of handling. [The] premiere started off smoothly, apparently effortlessly, in an easy-going introduction of participants, and a brief, attractive singing' commercial, to set the summer's mood and tempo. Johnny Johnston doubled as emcee and singer and did both well. His romantic style blended well with Peggy Lee's sultry type of song, while all the participants came up to par ... Harpist Robert Maxwell had a neat turn ... Most unusual offering, perhaps, was the neat insertion by Savitt of a Bach fugue set to jazz with a great deal of tricky arrangement ..."

A Billboard review of the second episode was not as thoroughly positive.  The program was described as "a smooth, highly professional musical amalgam, sporting class vocalizing by Buddy Clark, Peggy Lee and the Jubilaires with an ace contribution given by Robert Maxwell."  Clark came in for foremost praise on a variety of counts ("one of the top male warblers," equipped with "style, phrasing, first-class diction and projection and pipes").   His skill at "tossing off a line" was rated "okay, too."  As for Peggy Lee, the reviewer opined that she, "too, is up there -- certainly one of the more efficient fem yodelers of the current crop, and who seems bound to finish near the top herself."  But the show was deemed to have two weak spots:  the orchestra lacked the "solid-rock" sound that had characterized it in earlier years and the script's chatter came off as "forced and lumbering, rather than facile and flip."

Of this season's 15 episodes, my session data below will present evidence for the existence of five, most of them not fully preserved, to my knowledge. Their obscurity notwithstanding, full episodes of this relatively obscure summer program might have managed to survive in the collections of dedicated Old-Time radio fans; I would appreciate hearing from any readers able to offer confirmation on the matter.

(As the previous comments should make amply apparent, the Rhapsody In Rhythm data available to me is far from thorough. Some aspects of it might do more to raise than answer questions. On that note, I should clarify that Rhapsody In Rhythm was already on the air back in the 1930s -- or, rather, a show under that name was. A syndicated 15-minute program, it variously featured The Rhythm Rascals, Charles W. Hamp, and Ben Pollock. Some of the details at hand give that earlier show a 1936 date, yet I have also come across entries for episodes dating back to 1930 and 1931. In any case, and aside from the shared name, I have come across no other links between the 1930s Rhapsody In Rhythm and the 1946-1947 show under scrutiny. I am inclined to believe that the former was not an early incarnation of the latter, but I would be glad to be corrected by any readers with a more knowledgeable grasp of the subject matter.

Following the summer run of Rhapsody In Rhythm, its CBS 30-minute spot was taken over by a show co-featuring Frank Morgan, Don Ameche, and Frances Langford. Its musical backing was supplied by the orchestra of Carmen Dragon. Touted as much as the cast was a feature titled "Columbia Record Preview Of The Week," on which label acts such as Dinah Shore would be heard announcing and previewing their new single releases.


Photos above and below: (1) Jan Savitt. (2) A Peggy Lee biographical capsule, from a source unknown to me -- probably a celebrity rag, in currency during the second half of 1947. The tidbits about the roles played by Johnston and Clark in Lee's career are false. Such tidbits come off as attempts at establishing a close connection between the hostess and her co-hosts. They could have been invented by the makers and promoters of Rhapsody In Rhythm. Alternatively, the details could have been made up by a careless magazine writer. (3) Buddy Clark. (4) Robert Maxwell and harp. (5) The Jubalaires, also known as The Jubilaires. Their Capitol 78 rpm recordings are among the sources that spell their name with an a. Yet the above-shown Capitol ad opts for the i spelling. (6) Johnny Johnston. Below: Promotional material and general data about the show, the latter part of a trade review.




Date: June 11, 1947
Location: CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood, California

Jan Savitt And His Orchestra (acc), Johnnie Johnston, Peggy Lee (v)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) A Sunday Kind Of Love(Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Louis Prima, Stan Rhodes)
b. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder(Daryl Hutchinson)
c. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) My Blue Heaven(Walter Donaldson, George Whiting)
d. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket: Irving Berlin Medley(Irving Berlin)
e. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Easter Parade: Irving Berlin Medley(Irving Berlin)
All titles unissued.


Preservation And Data Accuracy

On acetate disc, this episode was originally waxed over three sides, all of them identified as "parts" on the labels of the discs. I have listened only to the episode's first part, which includes the above-listed performance of "A Sunday Kind Of Love."

The available information about the tracks performed on the other two parts is limited. Peggy Lee and Johnny Johnston definitely sing a duet in the second part, and I have tentatively identified that duet as "I Wonder Who." Further discussion about the correct title of that duet will be found below.

As for the third part, I have needed to make a basic deduction on its contents. In 1947, Variety's review of this debut episode stated that "[c]ompany, in toto (including Jan Savitt's orchestra), took part in Irving Berlin selections." Meanwhile, in the present time, I happen to have listened to undated Rhapsody In Rhythm audio on which an Irving Berlin medley is performed by the entire cast. Since it stands to reason that such audio comes from this episode, I have entered its pertinent performances above.

Viewers demanding full certainty on the dating of the Berlin segment should know that I am confident about the validity of my deduction. A moderate degree of support can be gathered from a comment heard on the audio. "Old Gold brings an outstanding feature from last year: Jan Savitt's Classics In Jazz," co-host Johnnie Johnston tells us. The 1947 debut of Rhapsody In Rhythm would have been the likeliest episode to alert listeners to a re-introduction of a feature from the previous year.


Performances And Personnel

1. "A Sunday Kind Of Love"
This number is a Peggy Lee solo.

2. "I Wonder Who'"
As already mentioned, I have been able to audition only two thirds of this episode. The third I am missing includes a number which a Variety review (mis)identifies as "I Wonder Who." According to the reviewer, it is a duet, sung by Peggy Lee and Johnnie Johnston. I have not come across any 1940s (or pre-1940s) song with that exact title. Bearing in mind that reviewers sometimes shorten song titles (or unwittingly rename the songs, picking their catchiest words).

I have tentatively picked "I Wonder, I Wonder, Wonder" as the likeliest candidate. A 1947 hit, that number was recorded by Eddy Howard, Tony Pastor, and Martha Tilton, among others. Most tellingly, Lee does sing (reprise) it on a later episode of Rhapsody In Rhythm.

Other fine songs that were active in the mid-1940s and which I considered -- but ultimately rejected -- were "I Wonder" (popularized by The Roosevelt Skyes) and the catchy Buddy Clark - Doris Day duet "Love Somebody." The latter has two heavy strikes against its candidacy, however: it doesn't quite include the same wording given by the reviewer, and it did not come into currency until late in 1947.

One final candidate under my radar was "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now." That 1909 composition was again in vogue in 1947 due to the summer release of the 20th Century Fox film of the same title (a biopic of composer Joseph Howard). The movie was not actually released until July, but advance word of its premiere could have led to the choice of the already well-known number for inclusion in this June episode.

3. "My Blue Heaven"
The second part of the episode appears to have ended with another duet sung by Peggy Lee and Johnnie Johnston. The duet's very last lines bleed into the third part, and are the only portion to which I have listened: "... makes three? Maybe. Baby, it's you." I have very tentatively identified the mystery number as "My Blue Heaven." My thinking is that the incomplete phrase ("... makes three") comes from that song's line and baby makes three. If so, it would have been re-phrased in this performance as a question, followed by a coda created just for duet purposes ("maybe," sung by Johnston; "baby, it's you," sung by the two singers in unison).

4. Episode's Interpretations From Performers Other Than Lee
Listed above are, naturally, just the numbers in which Peggy Lee participated. The episode also included the following renditions, none of them featuring Lee: "Old Devil Moon" (Johnnie Johnston), "Casey Jones" (The Jubalaires), and two Jerome Kern compositions (Robert Maxwell).

5. Irving Berlin Medley
This medley starts off with Berlin's "Remember," sung by Johnnie Johnston. The orchestra's interpretation of the same songwriter's "Puttin' On The Ritz" follows. Next up are a Peggy Lee solo vocal (Berlin's 'I'm Puttin' All My Eggs In One Basket"), a Robert Maxwell harp solo, The Jubalaires' rendition of Berlin's "When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam" and, finally, Berlin's "Easter Parade," treated as a vocal duet by Johnston and Lee, with backing from Savitt's orchestra.


Photos

Peggy Lee and Jan Savitt at the Hollywood Palladium, where he was performing at the time (November 1945). Also: composer Irving Berlin, whose compositions were celebrated by the cast of Rhapsody In Rhythm during the last part of this episode.











Date: June 18, 1947
Location: CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood, Californias

Jan Savitt And His Orchestra (acc), Buddy Clark, Peggy Lee (v)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder(Daryl Hutchinson)
b. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) You're The Cream In My Coffee(Lew Brown, Buddy G. DeSylva, Ray Henderson)
c. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Would You Like To Take A Walk: Harry Warren Medley(Mort Dixon, Billy Rose, Harry Warren)
d. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) No Love, No Nothin': Harry Warren Medley(Leo Robin, Harry Warren)
All titles unissued.


Photos

Acetate disc containing the first part of the episode under discussion. (Thirty-minute episodes such as this one generally filled a total of three sides. Typically, one disc contained parts 1 and 3 of the same episode. Parts 2 occupied a separate disc.) Also shown below is composer Harry Warren, whose compositions were celebrated by the cast of Rhapsody In Rhythm during the last part of this episode.











Preservation And Contents

The above-listed performances come from this episodes parts 1 and 3, to both of which I have indeed listened. I have not listened to part 2, nor do I know the titles of the numbers performed during that segment.


Performances And Personnel

1. "I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder"
This number is a Peggy Lee solo. Note that the preceding episode appears to gave also featured this number, but in a duet version.

2. Numbers Interpreted By Performers Other Than Lee
Listed above are, naturally, just the numbers in which Peggy Lee participated. The episode also included the following renditions, none of them featuring Lee: "Red Silk Stockings" (Buddy Clark), "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (The Jubalaires), and Robert Maxwell's own "Harping on The Harp."

3. Harry Warren Medley
This medley of Harry Warren compositions starts off with the above-listed "Would You Like To Take A Walk?," sung as a duet by Buddy Clark and Peggy Lee. The orchestra's interpretation of the songwriter's "Lullaby Of Broadway" follows. Next up are solo features for Clark ("September In The Rain"), The Jubalaires ("I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo"), Robert Maxwell ("I Found A Million Dollar Baby"), Peggy Lee ("No Love, No Nothin' "). The medley concludes with the orchestra's playing of an instrumental.


Date: July 16, 1947
Location: CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood, California

Jan Savitt And His Orchestra (acc), Robert Maxwell (hrp), Buddy Clark, The Jubalaires, Peggy Lee (v)

a. Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) All Of Me(Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons)
b. Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) Feudin' And Fightin'(Al Dubin, Burton Lane)
c. Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) The Man I Love: George Gershwin Medley(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
d. Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) Of Thee I Sing: George Gershwin Medley(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
All titles unissued.


Photos

The two announcers of Rhapsody In Rhythm. The earliest episodes (including those already listed) were handled by Frank Goss, who had been active since the 1930s, making a name at KFOX, KNX, and KWFB. From the 1940s to the 1950s, he became especially familiar to regular listeners of CBS shows.

Marvin Miller had taken over the show's announcement duties by mid-July (possibly earlier). He is heard in the present episode, Miller became a better-known name in the industry to his double-duty work as both radio/TV speaker and film actor. In the mid-1960s, his narration for Dr. Seus albums on RCA scored him a couple of Grammy awards.

Also below: Composers George Gershwin (first row, last) and Ira Gershwin (second row, last), brothers who wrote many songs together, including a couple listed above. George's compositions were celebrated by the cast of Rhapsody In Rhythm during the last part of this episode.


















Preservation And Contents

The above-listed performances come from this episodes parts 1 and 3, to both of which I have indeed listened. On the other hand, I have not listened to part 2, nor do I know the titles of the numbers performed during that segment.


Performances And Personnel

1. "All Of Me"
This number is a Peggy Lee solo.

2. "Feudin' And Fightin' "
This 1947 hit is performed as a duet by Clark and Lee, who adopt hillbilly accents for the occasion.

3. Numbers Interpreted By Performers Other Than Lee
Listed above are, naturally, just the numbers in which Peggy Lee participated. The episode also included the following renditions, none of them featuring Lee: "Peg O' My Heart" (Buddy Clark), "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho" (The Jubalaires), and "Hungarian Rhapsody" (Robert Maxwell).

4. George Gershwin Medley
This medley of Gershwin compositions starts off with a Buddy Clark interpretation of "They Can't Take That Away From Me," followed by renditions from Savitt's orchestra ("Swanee"), The Jubalaires ("Liza"), Peggy Lee ("The Man I Love"), and Robert Maxwell ("It Ain't Necessarily So"). The proceedings end with the full cast's participation in "Of Thee I Sing."


Date: August 13, 1947
Location: CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood, California

Jan Savitt And His Orchestra (acc), Buddy Clark, Peggy Lee (v), The Jubalaires (bkv)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Stormy Weather - 3:07(Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)
b. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Ask Anyone Who Knows - 2:45(Alvin Kaufman, Sol Marcus, Eddie Seiler)
c. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Ain't Misbehavin' - 2:34(Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf, Thomas 'Fats' Waller)
d. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) Stormy Weather: Harold Arlen Medley(Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)
e. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) Blues In The Night: Harold Arlen Medley(Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer)
All titles unissued.


Photos

Separate but contemporaneous shots of Rhapsody In Rhythm's Peggy Lee and Buddy Clark. The Lee shot appeared on a November 1947 magazine publication, and was probably taken at one of the summer shows that she hosted, one of them having been Rhapsody In Rhythm. The Clark shot was published on a magazine issued in the summer of 1949. Also below: composer Harold Arlen, whose compositions were celebrated by the cast of Rhapsody In Rhythm during the last part of this episode.










Preservation And Data Accuracy

My acquaintance with the above-listed numbers stems from audio shared by a fellow collector. On his audio, the medley and the other three performances are separately featured. It was the collector who gave the date August 13, 1947 to all of them; I have no proof of the accuracy of his dating. Otherwise, I have no details about the episode itself. As for the numbers interpreted by performers other than Lee, I know only the titles of those which they did as part of the Arlen medley.


Performances And Personnel

1. "Stormy Weather"
2. "Ask Any One Who Knows"
Typically, Peggy Lee's solos on Rhapsody In Rhythm involve one full song and one medley number. It is thus odd to see the two solos listed as belonging to the same episode. For commentary about the reliability of the data, consult the note about Preservation And Data Accuracy right above. Note that, if the data is correct, then Lee would have sung "Stormy Weather" twice on this episode," which seems like an odd course of action. Hence I suspect the collector's dating to be partially mistaken on the matter of "Stormy Weather." Lee probably sang it only as part of the medley. The full 3:07 performance is likelier to belong to a different episode.

3. "Ain't Misbehavin' "
Co-hosts Buddy Buddy Clark and Peggy Lee duet on this number

4. Numbers Interpreted By The Other Performers
In addition to the numbers in which Peggy Lee participated, this August 13 episode is suspected to be the one that included the following renditions, none of them featuring the songstress: "I Never Knew" (Buddy Clark), "Je Vous Adore" (Buddy Clark), "Aye, Aye, Aye" (Robert Maxwell), "Steamboat Bill" (The Jubalaires), "The Hall Of The Mountain King" (Jan Savitt And His Orchestra), and "Fascinating Rhythm" (performer unknown; presumably the orchestra as well). Though such is believed to be the case, there is still need for corroboration that those numbers belong to this episode.

5. Harold Arlen Medley
Two songs from this episode's medley of Harold Arlen are listed above. Here is a full list of the medley's songs and performers:

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - Buddy Clark
Get Happy - Jan Savitt And His Orchestra
Stormy Weather - Peggy Lee
It's Only A Paper Moon - The Jubalaires
Over The Rainbow - Robert Maxwell
Blues In The Night - Buddy Clark, Peggy Lee, The Jubalaires, Jan Savitt And His Orchestra


Date: September 17, 1947
Location: CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood, California

Jan Savitt And His Orchestra (acc), Robert Maxwell (hrp), Johnnie Johnston, The Jubalaires, Peggy Lee (v)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) All Of Me(Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons)
b. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Country Style(Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen)
c. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Something To Remember You By: Arthur Schwartz Medley(Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz)
d. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) A Gal In Calico: Arthur Schwartz Medley(Leo Robin, Arthur Schwartz)
All titles unissued.


Photos

Acetate disc containing the first part of the episode under discussion. (Thirty-minute episodes such as this one were often distributed over three sides. Typically, parts 1 and 3 served as sides of the same disc. Parts 2 occupied a separate disc.). Also below: composer Arthur Schwartz, whose compositions were celebrated by the cast of Rhapsody In Rhythm during the last part of this episode.











Preservation And Data Accuracy

Having auditioned this episode in full (all three parts of it), I can vouch for the accuracy of the data entered herein.


Performances And Personnel

1. "All Of Me"
This number is a Peggy Lee solo. As pointed by co-host Johnny Johnston, this is also a reprise of a number that she had sung in an earlier episode.

2. "Country Style"
This performance is a Johnston-Lee duet.

3. Numbers Interpreted By Performers Other Than Lee
Listed above are, naturally, just the numbers in which Peggy Lee participated. The episode also included the following renditions, none of them featuring Lee: "I Love To Dance" (Johnny Johnston), "Casey Jonest" (The Jubalaires), and "It Ain't Necessarily So/I Got Rhythm" (Robert Maxwell), "You're Not Easy To Forget" (Johnston), and the overture from Bizet's Carmen (Jan Savitt And His Orchestra).

4. Arthur Schwartz Medley
This medley of Schwartz compositions starts off with "Dancing in The Dark," sung by Johnny Johnston, and continued with the orchestra's take on "
Louisiana Hayride." Peggy Lee offers a solo next ("Something To Remember You By"). Following suit are The Jubalaires ("A Shine On Your Shoes") and Robert Maxwell (number yet to be identified). The medley concludes with an ensemble interpretation of "A Gal In Calico."


Sessions Reported: 5

Performances Reported: 22

Unique Songs Reported: 20