Thursday, October 18, 2012

Allan Sherman for Journalists, LA Edition

While idly dreaming of massive press coverage for Overweight Sensation, something on the order of the fall of the Berlin Wall -- because, as my grandmother used to say, "El que quiere poco es loco." He who desires little is crazy. As long as you're desiring, might as well go big -- I less idly decided to produce material for journalists (there are still journalists, right?) that might need a local angle.

(Courtesy of John Burroughs Middle School)

So a news outlet in Los Angeles might want to know that Sherman attended John Burroughs Junior High School and published his first Jewish song parody in the school's 1938 senior class BURR, and that Sherman then attended Fairfax High School and wrote a student newspaper humor column there called "Witz-Krieg."

(Courtesy of Fairfax High School)

Of course, it would be helpful to know that until his last year of high school Sherman was known as Allan Segal, and it might add a little color to the story that Sherman's step-father, Dave Segal, was a con man and criminal once arrested in Beverly Hills for passing bad checks.

Sherman left LA in the fall of 1941 for college at the U. of Illinois and then New York and did not return until early '61. Dave Segal traveled to LA at about the same time. Sherman was producer for a TV show called Your Surprise Package. Segal, with the police knocking on his cheap motel door, put a pistol in his mouth and blew his brains out.

At this point in my daydream the reporter demands his editor grant a longer word count.

Then there's Sherman and his family living in rented luxury on North Saltair Avenue, where he meets and befriends neighbor Harpo Marx. Sherman sings Jewish parodies of Broadway show tunes for Harpo and Harpo's friends Jack Benny, George Burns and other comedy machers from Hillcrest Country Club. They heard "Ollawood!" sung to the tune of "Camelot."

The movie stars all sit around the pool there
The food at Nate 'n Al's is very good
And Sammy Davis Jr. goes to shul there
In Ollawood.

Where every girl can be a movie princess
Where palm trees sway real good like palm trees should
Where Mrs. Eddie Fisher once made blintzes
In Ollawood.

In 1961, he also performs a crude and obscene crowd-pleaser at the retirement party for Warner Bros. Records president Jim Conkling. I found the lost recording. And boy was it lost. I mean gone. But I found it. However, it can't be quoted in newspapers, or almost anywhere else. It's too dirty. So it's not important, except the song is how Sherman first met the top folks at Warner Bros., his future label.

The rest of the story my journalist already knows.

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