Friday, March 29, 2019

Vintage 1950s Toys

Vintage 1950s Toys

          Play-Doh began when Kutol Products, a Cincinnati based soap company, was about to go under in the late 1920s.  Cleo McVicker was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap.

          In 1933 Cleo was at a meeting with Kroger grocery store representatives when they asked him if he made wallpaper cleaner. (This was before vinyl wallpaper.)
          In a bold stroke, Cleo told them he could make the wallpaper cleaner for them (even though no-one at Kutol Products knew how).  Kroger subsequently ordered 15,000 cases of wallpaper cleaner. Sales bloomed. After WWII, sales began to dwindle with sooty coal heaters slowly being replaced by oil and gas furnaces.
          The product was reworked and marketed to Cincinnati schools. In 1954 Kay Zufall, the unsung hero of Play-Doh history and the sister-in-law to Joe McVicker, had a nursery school and needed cheap materials to have her kids make Christmas decorations.  In the process of searching for said cheap decoration materials, she read in a magazine that you could use wallpaper cleaner for this task.  Knowing the trouble her brother-in-law’s company was in, she went out and bought a bunch of Kutol’s wallpaper cleaner, to see if it would work for this application.

          Joe McVicker managed to talk his way into an audience with Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo. McVicker explained to him that Kutol Products had no money for a national advertising campaign nor money to have the product put on the show.  However, if Keeshan would agree to use the product once a week on Captain Kangaroo, they’d give the Captain Kangaroo production company 2% of the sales generated, so long as he continued to show it.  The Captain agreed and Play-Doh quickly became a national hit, even appearing on other children’s shows such as Ding Dong School and Romper Room. In 1958 Play-Doh's sales reached nearly $3 million.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Vintage 1950s Personalities

Vintage 1950s Personalities

Marilyn Monroe changed Ella Fitzgerald's Life

          Marilyn Monroe was working on her singing ability and studied the recordings of Ella Fitzgerald at the advice of her vocal coach.  Monroe was instructed to purchase Fitzgerald’s recordings of Gershwin's music and listen to it 100 times in a row. The continued study of Fitzgerald's work turned Monroe into a great admirer. Reportedly, Monroe respected Fitzgerald so much she scrutinized Ella’s early recordings to help develop her own voice.
          During the ‘50s, one of the most popular venues was the Mocambo Club in Hollywood. Frank Sinatra made his Los Angeles debut at The Mocambo Club in 1943, and it was frequented by the likes of Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Lana Turner.
          At that time, Fitzgerald was not allowed to perform at Mocambo Club because of her race. Then, one of her biggest fans made a telephone call that changed the path of her career for good.

          Monroe heard the Macambo Club banned Fitzgerald and thought it ridiculous. Monroe called the manager of the club and said that she would sit front row every night if Fitzgerald got the job. She promised to pull in not only massive crowds but the press. The manager couldn't bypass such a deal. He agreed and booked Fitzgerald. As promised Marilyn Monroe was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard to cover the club and its celebrity clientele.

          "I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt," Fitzgerald would say later. "After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She (Marylin) was an unusual woman — and ahead of her time, and she didn't know it."

To hear the music that Marilyn Monroe studied, go to:

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Vintage 1950s Music HIGH HOPES

High Hopes

          A popular song first popularized by Frank Sinatra,  music written by James Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn.  It was introduced by Sinatra and child actor Eddie Hodges in the 1959 film A Hole in the Headnominated for a Grammy, it won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 32nd Academy Awards.

          High Hopes was recorded in 1959 in a hit version featuring a children's chorus, which was later included in Sinatra's 1961 album All the Way (this version is not the version that appeared in the film, as the film version paired Sinatra with Eddie Hodges rather than with a children's chorus). The tune reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track peaked at #6 in the UK Singles Chart. Sinatra also recorded a version of the tune with different lyrics which was used as the theme song for the 1960 Presidential Campaign of John Kennedy.

          The song was recorded by several artists. Doris Day recorded a  jazzy version of the song for her 1964 album, With a Smile and a Song. Her version was used in the 1998 animated film Antz.

Here is Doris Day's version of High Hopes:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Vintage 1950s Food Chicken a la King

Vintage 1950s

Chicken à la King

This is an oldie but goodie from Betty Crocker Cookbook!  I so remember eating this every Wednesday in the school cafeteria during lunch.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk (may be part cream if you want a richer sauce )
1 1/4 cups chicken broth 
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken or turkey (Rotisserie store-bought chicken may be used if in a hurry )
1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
3 cups hot noodles, hot rice, biscuits, or toast

Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook bell pepper and mushrooms in butter, stirring occasionally until bell pepper is crisp-tender. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and pimientos; cook until hot.
Serve over hot egg noodles, hot rice, biscuits, or toast
Serves 4