The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography And Videography:
An Inquiry Into The Snader, Studio, And Camay Companies
by Iván Santiago-Mercado
Page generated on Nov 20, 2016
I. Scope And Authorship
This supplementary essay grew out of my work for another discographical page -- a page specifically dedicated to Peggy Lee's TV videos, or telescriptions
. While researching the ten videos which Lee filmed in 1950, I realized that a detailed history of the telescription business has yet to be written. All the consulted texts elicited the same disappointing results: matters pertaining to the world of telescriptions were dispatched within a few short paragraphs, and not always in accurate detail. This page is meant to be a serious step toward rectifying such paucity of information. It discusses the creation, development, and modus operandi of the two companies that were responsible for the production of all known telescription clips. In addition to the Snader and Studio telescription companies, the page pays attention to a third outfit of interest: the record label Camay, which was the first to issue audio-only version of the Snader videos made by Peggy Lee and other artists. (Side note: readers wanting to see pictures of the relevant Lee videos and albums should take a look at this discography's music shorts
II. Historical Definitions Of The Telescriptions
Described by the contemporaneous press as "visual records for television," telescriptions were the tube's earliest music videos. When they were brand new, the business trade also referred to them as "short TV films, about three and a quarter minutes in length, [which] are to TV what open-end transcriptions are to AM" (with AM
being used in this quote as a synonym of radio
.) Other early definitions will be quoted in the ensuing paragraphs.
III. Snader Enterprises: The Main Company Players
The man behind the "telescription" concept was Louis D. Snader, a wealthy real state developer whose properties included various theaters in Southern California. With the advent of television, his main focus of interest had shifted from the big-screen lots to the small-screen arena.
In 1949, the businessman came up with the idea of shooting musical performances to sell to local TV stations. As part of his plan, he entered into a partnership with two other businessmen, Alexander Bisno and Sam Markowich, presumably because such partnership would better allow him to finance the deal. (Bisno seems to have been in charge of sales, in particular.) Also an erstwhile musician, Snader promptly rented space time at a suitable studio, negotiated multiple-video contracts with various artists' managers, and courted favor not only with the press but also with music organizations.
By trying to negotiate fair rates with all the parties involved, the man and his partners garnered a lot of good will from the music industry. An article published in the September 16, 1950 of Billboard
magazine touts Snader as "the first indie pic maker to sign the 5 percent royalty deal [that] the American Federation of Musicians" was demanding at this point in time. A September 30, 1950 follow-up from the same publication makes a point of adding that "of course, [he] has indicated his adherence to the theory that the creators of show business -- the actors, musicians, writers and now publishers -- should be given the opportunity to share in the returns." Furthermore, these two articles state that Snader had already negotiated with Mills Music on the matter of using that firm's songs for TV films and that he was in the process of negotiating with other music publishers. Mr. Snader had also agreed to the Harry Fox firm's $50 publishing flat fee for synchronization rights per telescription (which, by mid-1951, would be raised to a $100 advance against two percent of the gross). All these transactions had taken place shortly before Snader's scheduled New York screenings of the telescription pilot reels, for the viewing pleasure and prospective enticement of TV station representatives, labels' and artists' agents.
After naming himself the project's executive producer, Snader hired Louis "Duke" Goldstone as director, editor, and producer of the films. Joseph F. Biroc was named director of photography, Harold Godsoe production supervisor, and another Duke (Volstomz) was put in charge of general production. Additional names mentioned in the press included Lou Victor (coordinator) and George Van Marter (art director). As for the positions of musical director and talent coordinator, both were held by bandleader and pianist Phil Moore -- but not for long. By late November 1950, Billboard
magazine was reporting that Moore had resigned, and Snader had picked Harry Zimmerman as his replacement, at a $50,000 annual salary. (Zimmerman, known for his work with Dinah Shore, was also the musical director of the Mutual network).
Eager to make a dent on the then-fresh TV industry, Louis Snader also tried his hand at producing TV programs at low cost. To wit: Dick Tracy
(a 1950 half-an-hour series whose target audience was adolescents, and which Snader acquired after its initial 13-run episode; it lasted until 1952, when the star's fatal heart attack killed the series' chances as well), Alexander Korda Features
(British film imports, one of them being the 1950 movie The Wooden Horse
), and a pre-syndicated, 1952 edition of The Liberace Show
. Still further, there were two late 1951 fifteen-minute documentary-style features, one of them called This Is The Story
("famous tales, recreated by Ed Prentiss") and the other Washington Spotlight
(a weekly program with "columnist Morgan Childs as moderator of a round table discussion with two Washington figures"). These TV shows were distributed to local TV stations nationwide under the corporate name Snader Telescriptions, Inc. (later changed to Combined Television Pictures, Inc.), with offices at 328 South Beverly Drive, in Beverly Hills, California.
For Duke Goldstone (1914-1998), these telescriptions seem to have signified his incorporation to the TV medium, too. The man who was appointed to be director, producer, and editor of the telescriptions had spent the previous decade directing and editing mostly short-film projects at Paramount and Universal -- from columnist Hedda Hopper's Hollywood party reels to George Pal's puppetoons (including Jasper's In A Jam
, featuring Peggy Lee). During and after the telescriptions period, Goldstone further worked on Snader's other programs (Dick Tracy
, The Liberace Show
) and in various assorted series which do not seem to have counted with Snader's involvement, such as the young Betty White sitcom vehicle Life With Elizabeth
. Goldstone was an active part of just above every step related to the actual making of the telescriptions, being (partially) responsible for even the set designs.
IV. Filming At Snader Enterprises
Goldstone and Snader began filming their telescriptions in 1950. The cost per transcription in the Los Angeles area was initially reported to be in the vicinity of $1,800. As the months went by, the expense was said to raise to about $2,500, with the price tag being expected to climb to $3,000 if the company proceeded with its plan to film in New York as well.
During the project's earliest months, the press stated that the signed artists were being offered scale deals and a 5% in royalties. The American Federation of Musicians was also receiving a 5% royalty on gross revenues -- as already stated.
The shooting of the telescriptions took place at Hollywood Center Studios, also known as General Service Studios. Hollywood Center was an independent, non-network affiliated lot; it would become a popular location for early television shows, including Perry Mason
and the earlier seasons of I Love Lucy
. (This discography is naturally concerned with the location for the California-filmed telescriptions, among which Peggy Lee's entries are included. The telescriptions that would eventually be filmed in New York were slated to have the Fox Movietone Studios as its location.)
Unlike many musical segments that had been shot for the movies and jukeboxes in the previous decade, Snader's videos used no lip-syncing. The final picture and the final audio were done simultaneously. Praise is often and deservedly given to the quality of these videos' audio. (An online site identifies one of the microphones used as a Telefunken, a brand which does have a good reputation.)
The visuals are, on the other hand, far from remarkable: just basic backdrops, probably already available at the studio rather than newly created. Such backdrops were actually shared by multiple performers. For instance, Herb Jeffries' "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home" and Peggy Lee's "Why Don't You Do Right?" used the same backdrop, with only minor ornamental modifications. Ditto for Jeffries' "Solitude" and Sarah Vaughan's "You're Mine, You."
A budget enterprise, the company would film the videos quickly but still proficiently. Most of them were done in one take and with no editing. A 1951 article in Business Week
states that Snader Enterprises was shooting up to seven performances each morning and five more in the afternoon. Speedy shots were possible thanks to the presence of three cameramen, and thanks also to the presumable professionalism of most of the parties involved. "When you walk on one of our sets," Snader said for an Associated Press interview sent out to participating periodicals in mid-October 1950, "it looks like Gone With The Wind
. You wonder how we can afford so many people."
V. The Snader Catalogue
An article from the June 22, 1950 issue of Billboard
magazine announces that, following a deal set up that same week, Lionel Hampton would be the first artist to film a Snader telescription. It is also stated that he would actually be shooting five of them. As part of his strategy to introduce these debut videos to their best advantage, Louis Snader told the press that he planned to strike mutually beneficial deals with the local TV stations of the areas where Hampton was playing. These initial videos were just offered for free to the stations. As an added bonus, Hampton was asked to film spoken suitable introductions for them -- introductions probably tailored to the stations and areas where they would be watched.
The same June 1950 article mentions that the following acts were scheduled to shoot telescriptions as well: Desi Arnaz, Diana Lynn, Herb Jeffries, and Jon & Sondra Steele. At that incipient period, the set schedule called for the filming of 40 telescriptions per month, with the long-term outlook being the accumulation of 400 videos, to be sold as what Billboard
called a "library service."
By mid-September 1950, Snader and the press were further reporting that he had "completed 50 films to date, averaging 10 a week." Indeed, the number of videos shot per day was increasing, and would reach up to 13 per day during the next year. Decades later, director Duke Goldstone would essentially corroborate this rate as the company's weekly average. In Goldstone's recollection, an average of 10 to 12 telescriptions were filmed daily on an eight-hour basis (often divided between two performers, each one scheduled to be present for 4 hours).
For the remainder of 1950, the press continued to track down the progress of Snader's telescription catalogue. In mid-October, readers learned that the producer had "already made 130 of them and w[ould] have a backlog of 360 in a year." By December 9, 1950, a total of 207 videos was being claimed.
Another list of performers "already lined up" for shooting was distributed by the Associated Press, through various newspaper articles published on or about October 19, 1950: Patricia Morrison, Peggy Lee, King Cole, Diana Lynn, Mitzi Green, Cab Calloway, Mel Tormé, Lionel Hampton and Herb Jeffries -- in that order. The full list would of course keep growing, becoming not only much larger but also musically diverse. Granted that jazz and pop acts made up the bulk of it, the mix also included artists from the realms of opera, country, and rhythm and blues. Here is a generous sample: Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, The Bobcats, Teresa Brewer, Les Brown, Frankie Carle, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, June Christy, Pete Daily And His Chicagoans, Martha Davis & Spouse, The DeCastro Sisters, Clark Dennis, The Delta Rhythm Boys, Duke Ellington, Firehouse Five Plus Two, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen, The Guadalajara Trio, The Ink Spots, Burl Ives, The King Sisters, Danny Kuuana And The Pagans, Steve Lawrence, Nick Lucas, Diana Lynn, The Bob Mitchell Choir Boys, Patricia Morison, Red Nichols And His Five Pennies, The McGuire Sisters, Tony Pastor, The Pied Pipers, Carl Ravazza, Ole Rasmussen and The Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tex Ritter, Rubinoff and His Violin, George Shearing, Arthur Lee Simpkins, The Starlighters, Gale Storm, Jack Teagarden And His All-Star Group, Wesley Tuttle, Merle Travis, Bobby Troup, Miguelito Valdez, Sarah Vaughan, June Valli, The Weavers, Lawrence Welk, The Whippoorwills, Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, Frank Yankovic, and a few others who will be mentioned in the paragraphs that follow.
Each performer tended to shoot at least a handful of telescription videos -- not just one or two. A total of five videos strikes me as the average, especially during the first months. (Indeed, the previously mentioned October 6, 1950 Down Beat
article states that "each group or performer is making five.") That standard total notwithstanding, I am aware of about 10 artists who made more than five. At the top of the pack is Nat King Cole, with 15 (plus additional entries that are alternate performances of three of the 15 titles). Both Jack Teagarden and opera singer Marina Koshetz did at least 12. Ditto for Toni Arden -- some of them solo, some of them in a double billing with her brother Jan. Gale Storm made a minimum of 11. Joining Peggy Lee among the acts who made 10 are Irving Fields, Allan Jones, and The King Sisters. Jon & Sondra Steele may also belong to this select group. Lionel Hampton made at least nine videos. In all these cases, there could be additional performances of which I have no knowledge at the present time (except for Cole and Lee, whose catalogue are reasonably clear to me).
Capitol artists such as Mel Tormé and June Christy seem to have been among the earliest acts to film telescriptions, too. Tormé's five-video batch dates from August 23 and 24, 1950, and was assigned the numbers 1001 to 1005. Nat King Cole's earliest batch is also from August, his second batch from September. Peggy Lee did her telescriptions in September, too. The cases of Cole (15 videos), Lee (10 videos), Tormé (five videos), and Christy (five videos) could seem to point to contract arrangements that demanded their making of telescriptions in installments of five. All these artists were Capitol recording acts, and all of them were probably brought into the Snader project through their common manager, Carlos Gastel.
The grand total of Snader telescriptions made has been established to be 754, all of them dating from the 1950-1952 period. After reading the data available to me, I have come to believe that the majority of these so-called Snaders were filmed in the second half of 1950, and that only a smaller portion is from 1951 and 1952. However, one piece of evidence suggests that my impression about the years 1951 and 1952 could be partially wrong: an article in the July 7, 1951 issue of Billboard
magazine reports that "[p]roduction on three-minute TV films is picking up. Snader on June 22 started production on a new series of 400 films. Many of these are being done in color." (The comment about color is curious. None of the telescriptions that I have watched are in color, except for a 1950 Sarah Vaughan video that appears to have been artificially colored.)
When it comes to dating each of these individual Snader videos, errors have resulted from researchers' and writers' misunderstanding of the telescriptions' opening cards, which often bear 1951 or 1952 dates. While these years would not be far off (sometimes actually happening to be correct), the opening cards are not supplying the year in which the given telescription was shot. Instead, the opening cards provide the year in which each video was copyrighted and/or released for TV consumption. For instance, some of the telescriptions made in late 1950 were actually released in 1951 and 1952; hence the showing up of either 1951 or 1952 in their opening cards. (Case in point: Nat King Cole filmed 10 of his telescriptions in August and September 1950 but, according to his discographer Klaus Teubig, they were not registered until February 19 and April 1, 1951.) An additional source of confusion stems from the fact that the Snader telescriptions were sold to another company -- as will be discussed in one of the sections below. The opening cards of that second company supply the date in which the company copyrighted or came to re-release the material (i.e., 1953 and later).
VI. The Snader Model And Its Target Audience
At a time when radio personalities and radio programming was just beginning to migrate to television, Louis Snader was following a logical trajectory. The entrepreneur originally thought of telescriptions as the tube's equivalent of radio transcriptions: he envisioned a televised show fully dedicated to these three-minute-long visual performances, each of which would be announced and "played" by a disc jockey.
Snader pointed out, however, that a TV audience was not likely to welcome any close imitation of such a format, despite its having worked out so well on the radio. Tube viewers would not be thrilled at the sight of a dee jay spinning records on their screen. Thus radio disc jockeys wanting to infiltrate the tube needed to arm themselves with a more visually powerful tool: his telescriptions.
Snader also had one specific target audience in mind. "The trouble with most daytime television shows is that the wife has to neglect her housework if she wants to enjoy them," he asserted during the aforementioned interview for The Associated Press. "But she can enjoy our shows even if she can't stop to watch them."
A savvy businessman, Mister Snader not only filmed at budget cost but also offered his telescription catalogue at low prices. His price tags attracted the interest of the many local TV stations that had begun to worry about both the high production costs of their own shows and the mounting fees commanded by even non-primetime syndicated programming (e.g., B movies, British films).
On the topic of target audiences, readers of this page might be wondering if television was the only medium in which these videos were shown. According to Peggy Lee discographer Ron Towe, her ten telescriptions "were also transferred in two groupings of five songs each to 16 millimeter film and released to movie-houses as musical featurettes under the titles Peggy Lee And The Dave Barbour Quartet
, the other Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Quartet
. If Towe's comments are accurate, most other Snader telescriptions are likely to have been played at movies theaters as well. (Side note: This paragraph is concerned with the TV distribution of Snader telescriptions on their own, not as segments incorporated to the Showtime At The Apollo
flicks, which will be discussed below.)
VII. Airing: The Disc Jockey TV Shows
To judge from congratulatory notes published in the trade magazine Variety
, the premiere showing of the Snader Telescriptions took place on Friday, October 27, 1950. The showing was scheduled for 10 p.m. at KTLA (channel 5). During the 1950s, KTLA was a nominally independent though Paramount-owned TV station. Back in 1947, it had become the very first Western US station to be licensed for commercial telecasting.
The programming format proposed by Snader (i.e., videos introduced by disc jockeys on the tube) was promptly adopted in the Hollywood area. Gene Norman, a dee jay, jazz concert promoter (and, later, label owner) was among those who pioneered the TV showing of telescriptions. His Gene Norman Show
was simulcast daily from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. by local radio station KLAC (then the property of The New York Post
's publisher, Dorothy Schiff) and by tube station KHJ (an independent TV channel, though loosely affiliated with the radio branch of NBC). The Gene Norman Show
also aired in other local TV stations through the nation. An advertisement placed by Maryland's KNBH in the October 22, 1951 issue of a magazine called Broadcasting
states that "Peggy Lee, The King Cole Trio, Patricia Morison, Tex Ritter, Red Nichols And His 5 Pennies, Cab Calloway, Mel Tormé and a host of other stars appear every week on The Gene Norman Show
. The show is viewed from 10:30 to 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.” This ad (currently available online through the courtesy of The Broadcasting Archives
at the University of Maryland) also describes the Snader Telescriptions as "glamorous ... top-quality motion pictures of well·known singing, dancing and musical novelty acts … filmed in Hollywood expressly for television" and introduced by Norman "[w]ith rare technique."
Thus Norman and station KHJ were among the first to televise the Snader transcriptions, and to understand their possible appeal. "I left television alone until the right deal came along," Norman was quoted on the August 1951 issue of Capitol News
. He continued: "I have always felt unless there was a visual gimmick, records were for radio. The Snader Telescriptions, revolving around records, were what I was waiting for." Interestingly, he makes mention of another pioneering attempt (one about which I do not have information): "these films flopped on another station because they were trying to pass them off as a live vaudeville show. I introduce them and talk informally about the entertainer or have an occasional guest."
Besides KHJ-TV's The Gene Norman Show
and the unidentified program to which Norman alludes in the above-quoted article, several other TV shows can be counted among those which pioneered the airing of telescriptions. Only one of them has been noticed by writers of music books. To be discussed in the next paragraphs, that show dated from 1951 but did not emanate from Los Angeles, nor from New York City.
In early 1951 (or thereabouts) at Philadelphia's WFIL-TV, vice-president Roger Clipp made a program charge borne out of financial necessity. He refused to continue paying the mounting prices that film studios were asking for the movies that the station aired in the afternoons. Seeing the Snader telescriptions as a viable substitute, Clipp purchased the rights to the telescriptions at what was reported as a cheap price ("several thousands") and created a show around them.
Originally called Parade Of Stars
, Clipp's after-school show essentially followed the same concept and format as Norman's: a host introduced Snader telescriptions in a daily program that was simulcast in WFIL radio and WFIL-TV, with the occasional addition of live music guests to the mix. One of the few format differences from the LA originator was the Philly program's combination of the telescriptions with earlier videos or shorts made by the company Soundies. (Those and other music shorts had been originally shown at movie theaters and at commercial establishments with suitable equipment -- e.g., coin-operated film jukeboxes).
On the air by March 19, 1951, Parade Of Stars
had WFIL-TV's sports director Tom Moorehead as its host at that time. By 1952, Moorehead had ceded his hosting post to Bob Horn, a popular disc jockey at WFIL-radio. Because the dee jay's radio program was called Bob Horn's Bandstand
, the TV show was renamed Bandstand
In Lisa Jo Sagolla's book Rock 'n' Roll Dances Of The 1950s
, we learn that the revamped and renamed Bandstand
show premiered "with Horn seated at a table where he conducted an interview with ... trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, followed by a Snader of Peggy Lee singing Mañana
." Unfortunately, the change of host and slight modifications of the format did not elicit any immediate signs of popularity or increased viewership. Hence, after the first few weeks, Horn and company resorted to emulating the format of another show -- a radio show, actually -- in which teenagers were asked to come into the station, dance to popular records of the day, and talk about their schools. This radio-borrowed concept, introduced in the October 7, 1952 episode of the televised Bandstand
, caught on with teenagers immediately and stayed popular for years to come. Four years later, after Horn had been fired and after other personalities had been briefly tested as replacements, another WIFL disc jockey took over for good: Dick Clark. The following year (1957), the local TV program went national, changing its name to American Bandstand
. (Readers interested in this topic are welcome to consult my main source, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
. Although it is first and foremost about Parade Of Stars
, this source should be consulted as a starter because it is more reliable than many a dance 'n' rock 'n' roll book currently in print. Some exceptions aside -- Sagolla's above-quoted text, for one -- the bulk of those books fail to accurately cover or even represent the history of the precursors to American Bandstand
While Philadelphia's Parade Of Stars
was evolving into a dancing show geared toward teenagers, other TV markets continued to air telescriptions within the original disc jockey model. What's more, this model or format was promptly imported. Judging from the information found in an online page created by the Canadian Communications Foundation
, the CBC network bought telescription prints before even going on the air for the very first time (September 1952), and then proceeded to build a show around them. Televised in Canada in 1953, CBC's After Hours
mixed the telescriptions with comedy delivered by Canadian actors.
VIII. Airing: Other TV Formats
Besides the disc-jockey-show format, TV stations used the Snaders as fillers between regular programming. That usage seems to have ended up being the most common. In the tube's early years, local stations did have a steady need to fill empty space between regular shows, the latter not yet being too many. Also, just as nowadays, the finishing time of sports events could not be minutely pre-determined. Due in part to their brevity, telescriptions were considered to be convenient, especially handy time fillers. Since they tended to be sold in large packages, they also constituted an easy way to acquire a serviceable catalogue of visual entertainment.
TV stations could typically air anywhere between one and five telescriptions at a time, depending of course on how much free space was there to fill. Syndicated, pre-packaged telescription programs became one of the alternatives. If 15 full minutes were available, the station had the option of featuring a pre-packaged 3-to 5-transcription program concentrating on a single artist, and presenting such a set as the given artist's show. Or the pre-packaged set could simply consist of telescriptions by various artists. Two examples of such types of sets were Sponsor's Guestbook
and The Music Stand
, both 15-minute syndicated shows that featured telescriptions by, among others, Peggy Lee, and whose prints circulate among collectors nowadays.
"Yes, it's your Sponsor's Guestbook," we hear the announcer of one of these programs tell us in a voiceover at the start of the episode, "with tonight's nationally famous guest star, lovely singing star Peggy Lee. And here's your hostess, the girl who sings them in, sings their praises, and tells you the intimate stories behind their successes, Jean Christian." The hostess indeed offers a fair share of biographical details about Lee, and even suggests that Lee herself shared such details with her. (Since Lee's published interviews had me most or even all of such details available, it is likelier that the show's research team culled them from magazines and other periodicals.) In-between the biographical tidbits, three Snader telescriptions are played: It's A Good Day
, and I May Be Wrong
. After the first telescription has run its course, Christian takes the opportunity to remind TV viewers of their need to shop for the holidays -- an exhortation which suggests this show's original airing time to be within one of the holiday periods of the years 1951-1953. (She also announces that a commercial from the show's sponsor will be seen next. My VHS copy of Sponsor's Guestbook
does not include the commercial, and the originally syndicated print might have not contained any. Most likely, the identity of the sponsor varied from one local TV station to another, and thus each station would have needed to create its own commercial in consultation with its sponsor.) The target audience presumably being the typical housewife to which Mr. Snader had referred in his comments to the press, the episode under scrutiny ends with the hostess' declaration that the next episode's guest will be "handsome young singer Herb Jeffries." Closing credits do stipulate that "the musical portions of this program are produced by Snader Telescriptions" -- a fact further borne out by the upcoming appearance of Jeffries, another vocalist who filmed telescriptions.
The announcer of the other sampled show, The Music Stand
also resorts to a voiceover, during which he introduces this 1954 episode in the following manner: "The Music Stand, starring Peggy Lee and Duke Ellington. Presented by this station and your unit of The American Cancer Society. Number one in our book, Why Don't You Do Right?
. Peggy Lee, please stand by." The show's two other telescriptions are Lee's What More Can A Woman Do
and a rendition of "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington And His Orchestra. Halfway through the episode, the announcer tells us that he has "a message from special guest Burt Lancaster." The Hollywood actor is then shown; he gives a short speech on behalf of the fight against cancer and the need for us to "give generously." After What More Can A Woman Do
ends, the announcer takes the opportunity to proclaim that "every woman can do more and every man as well, when you ask to give to the American Cancer Society." The closing credits state that the "musical sequences [were] courtesy of Studio Films, Inc.," the company to which Snader eventually sold his telescription catalogue.
Other shows that are presumed to have followed similar patterns included the Night Owl Varieties, With Stan Chambers
(Los Angeles' KTLA-TV, telecast at 10:15 p.m. since at least the first week of 1951) and Hollywood Guest Book
(Maryland's WMAR-TV, debuting on June 10, 1951). The latter's airing time was advertised as "immediately preceding and following Film Theatre On The Air
on Sunday afternoon[s]."
IX. The Sale To Studio Films
A second telescription company, called Studio Films, was set up some time in 1952. It seems to have initially followed the same model as the Snader Telescriptions Corporation, thus becoming Snader's emulator (and, perhaps, competitor) in local markets. Originally based in Cleveland but eventually operating also in New York, Studio Films was either owned or represented by Ben Frye, about whom I have found only a few credits -- no biographical information. Frye is listed as co-producer or associate producer of two obscure, unsuccessful Broadway plays that opened in 1960 and 1961. He also produced and/or wrote the scripts for the Studio telescription films which will be discussed below.
In 1952, the full Snader telescription catalogue was sold to Frye's Studio Films for the sum of $600,000. The various book and internet sources that make reference to the transaction state that the sale resulted from the fact that Snader's business had flopped or was facing bankruptcy. However, such statements seem to stem from facile assumptions on the part of the sources' writers, and while not altogether wrong, do need qualification. A report in the January 24, 1953 issue of Billboard
magazine points to a more complicated story. From that report, we learn that Snader had gone to court to "contest ... the Frey sale on the grounds that he had not been consulted, and claimed the deal could not be legally executed since he as a partner had not given his approval." More specifically, Snader was arguing that Bisno and Markowich (his business partners in the telescriptions venture) had sold the catalogue without his consent or involvement. For his part, Bisno alleged that failure to sell would mean the company's bankruptcy, and that Snader had failed to deliver on his promise to top Studio's $600,000 offer. The article also mentions various additional matters in need of legal resolution. One of them was the pending return of the investments that about 200 individuals had made on the Snader telescriptions, and which collectively totaled nearly a million dollars. (At the time, only $200,000 of that total sum had been returned.) It thus seems that the catalogue was indeed sold due to the prospect of bankruptcy, in order to pay the debts to the investors, but whether such was or wasn't the reason, the court case makes it clear that Snader professed to have had no part in the sale, and no desire to honor it.
Unfortunately for Snader, the court ruled against him. Faced with the adverse legal decision, the business' founder acquiesced, and the sale of the Snader telescriptions catalogue to Studio Films was ratified as legal. In return for his capitulation, Snader was given the right to use the brand name "Snader Telescriptions" in any forthcoming musical shorts made under his production.
Meanwhile, Studio Films was granted the right to use the name "Snader Telescriptions" for all the existent, purchased videos. Studio indeed made use of the Snader name, while also making alterations to the film prints. The opening cards of many a Snader print were actually replaced with cards that credited Studio for the given video. Furthermore, the prints' original copyright dates (1950, 1951 and 1952) were changed to 1953 and 1954.
As for Louis Snader, the businessman continued to produce syndicated budget programming. Or he tried to do so. Although the producer claimed in early 1953 that he was already planning to do a new batch of music films, there is no record of any post-1952 telescriptions under his name. Instead, he seems to have concentrated in a syndicated version of The Liberace Show
, which back then was a local LA TV program, created and produced by Snader. The 1953 syndicated edition of the show would prove a national success, but it is not clear if he was still at the helm then. A couple of years later (1955), Snader made plans for an Art Mooney Show
, too. Unfortunately, his plans had to be cancelled due to the high fees that the AFM was asking for shows slated to be kinescoped and syndicated. Thereafter, Louis Snader's track grows cold. (A death certificate was issued in 1971 for an LA-based gentleman named Louis D. Snader, who had been born in Russia in 1897. In the other sources at hand, Snader's only additional appearance pertains to a court complaint made in late 1951 by a 20-year-old aspiring actress named Joan Gilbert. She alleged that the 50-something-year-old Snader had lured her to his home, and that he had attempted to rape her there. About a month after the filing, Snader was declared free of charges.)
X. The Studio Telescriptions
Studio's own catalogue consisted of about 300 telescriptions, most of them seemingly filmed between 1952 and 1954. The very first Studio Telescription might
have been a Jon and Sondra Steele performance of their 1948 hit "My Happiness," which they had re-recorded for Coral Records in 1950. (The song itself dated back to the 1930s.) Studio gave the number 0901 to this telescription. The Steeles were a Hollywood-based married couple who happened to be Caucasian, and whose hit, originally released on their own label, Damon, fell squarely under the sub-genre of old-fashioned pop. The fact that the Steeles had been able to set up their own label a few years earlier leads me to wonder if perhaps they were financial backers of the Studio company, or if they paid the expenses for their Studio telescription. (Alternatively, this video could have been originally shot for Snader, in which case it was simply re-releasing it first under Studio's name. The matter is unclear because my sources do not reliably clarify whether this telescription was originally made by Snader or by Studio. Do notice, though, that The Steeles are among the acts known to have recorded for Snader.)
Unlike "My Happiness," a large portion of the ensuing Studio telescriptions featured African-American acts singing rhythm & blues, doo-wop, and other music genres that were gradually taking over teenage audiences in cities and suburbs. Among the artists who filmed Studio telescriptions were Faye Adams, Ruth Brown, The Clovers, Larry Darnell, The Larks, Amos Milburn, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Washington, and The Paul Williams Band. In addition to those music acts, sketches by bantering comics were shot as well.
Overall, the Studio telescription batch comes as even more of a budget and hurried production than the original Snaders. As already stated, apparent company owner Ben Frye is usually credited as the producer -- sometimes as co-scriptwriter, too. One Joseph Kohn is credited as the director. A third name in the mix is Leonard Reed, a multi-talented artist who was in charge of the comedy sketches -- writing, directing and sometimes acting in them. His main trade was tap dancing; he would dance professionally for the entirety of his adult life. Harlem-based, Reed also wrote songs such as "Holiday In Harlem" (recorded by the Chick Webb Orchestra, with vocal by Ella Fitzgerald), produced stage shows at the Cotton Club, and had a five-year-long vaudeville act with another man who had later gone on to a solo career as well, Willie Bryant, and who will receive further mention below. (In fact, Reed and Bryant are credited with creating the tap step known as the shim sham shimmy.) Reed also became a lasting master of ceremonies and manager at Harlem's Apollo Theater, the renown venue that would start or jump-start the careers of many African-American artists.
XI. The "Showtime At The Apollo" Ruse
Following the Snader precedent, Studio continued to offer the telescription catalogue to local TV stations, for use as filler. The Studio firm also continued (or allowed others to continue) the practice of packaging telescriptions as syndicated music variety shows, exemplified by the above-mentioned 1954 program The Music Stand
. But, by 1955, Studio Films had come with a packaging concept of its own.
In a series of 13 half-an-hour films called Showtime At The Apollo
, telescriptions featuring African-American acts were deceptively presented as segments from live concerts. As part of the deception, the films included stock footage of an audience supposedly sitting at the Apollo, and the soundtrack was peppered with canned laughter and applause. Hired to play the role of the fake concerts' master of ceremonies was Willie Bryant -- the former vaudeville partner of the film's director, Leonard Reed. In each film, Bryant (an experienced showman with previous credits as a bandleader, vocalist, TV host, and disc jockey) would feign being onstage at the Apollo in front of a live audience. In reality, Reed had filmed Bryant's announcements and comments at the Studio company's Manhattan soundstage.
The ruse had viewers believe that various acts were ensconced behind the Apollo's stage's curtains, waiting for their turn to perform. Not so: these supposedly new and live performances were actually just the old telescription videos. As for the audience, there was none with Bryant. (Nor had the original Snader and Studio telescriptions been filmed with a general audience in view.)
Brought in alongside Bryant were a few acts -- comedians, tap dancers -- with whom he interacted, thus making it less obvious the the film's other segments were videos. What's more, a few brand new Studio telescriptions were shot with Bryant present, talking briefly to the given artist, before the performance. It is no surprise, then, that viewers who knew no better fell for the ingenious ruse. (So have, less justifiably, the poorly informed authors of various music books.)
Given director Leonard Reed's aforementioned ties to the Apollo, he might have been the person who came up with the conceit. He certainly seems to have been in charge of the films' non-video segments (e.g., the direction of the sketches). Also pointing to Reed, erstwhile a vaudevillian, is the "revue" format of these fake concerts. They come across as updated vaudeville shows.
As previously mentioned, there were 13 TV episodes of Showtime At The Apollo
, each lasting anywhere between 16 and 30 minutes. The contents consistently combine telescriptions (five to seven per episode) with tap dance routines and/or comic sketches. All the episodes mix Snader and Studio performances. For instance, Showtime At The Apollo: Beale Street Review
includes Snader videos by Cab Calloway, Herb Jeffries, Martha Davies With Spouse, and Sarah Vaughan, along with Studio videos by The Larks and Amos Milburn. Tap dancing by Bill Bailey and comedy routines featuring Nipsey Russell are also featured.
series was shown not only on syndicated television (1955) but also at movie theaters (1955 and/or 1956). The movie versions roll on for over an hour, stitching together the contents of two or more of the half-an-hour TV versions. There were at least four of these movies (Rock 'n' Roll Revue
, Rhythm And Blues Revue
, Harlem Jazz Festival
and Basin Street Revue
). Unlike the TV outings, none of the flicks bear the word Apollo in their titles, and there is no on-screen identification of the venue where the 'concerts' are supposedly taking place.
XII. Popularity (Or Lack Thereof)
Dismissals of the Snader telescriptions can be found in quite a few music books about rhythm & blues and rock music. The authors of such texts tend to characterize Snader's videos as perennially unpopular artifacts, old-fashioned even back when they were current. Those characterizations are overstated. Granted: the Snader telescriptions were not representative of the music favored by the typical teenager of the early 1950s. But then again, Snader's acknowledged target was not the teenage demographic but a potentially more loyal audience. He aimed at catching the attention of American housewives who, homebound for most of the day, were becoming increasingly attuned to the tube as their house chore companion. A measure of that audience's approval can be gleaned from the fact that the telescriptions remained in rotation on TV through the first half of the 1950s.
Some degree of insider support can also be gleaned from a September 6, 1952 Billboard
article which tells us that "Snader Telescriptions were voted the best non-network musical films produced for TV by station executives." We are additionally told that telescription programming drew a 26-point score, "far outdistancing all competition." (That having been said, the author of the article does point out that the category received relatively few votes. In a related ballot for top "non-network TV film show," the telescriptions were among 36 programs which did not make the top ten but did receive votes.)
Although obviously self-promotional, an ad placed on the June 20, 1953 issue of Billboard
magazine is worth our consideration as well. The ad lists 54 stations from across the nation that were "using" the Studio/Snader telescriptions at the time. A photocopy of a letter from a satisfied customer is also part of the ad. Monroe Mendelsohn, director of Sales Promotion at United Television Programs, shares that "[o]ne of our earlier problems, being a comparatively new operation, was to back our programming up into the earlier part of the afternoon, and yet to do so on a solid commercial basis. We started programming from 4:00 to 4:15 PM Monday through Friday using your telescription service, Our plan was to sell this strip in participation spots and then back up our programming as this was accomplished. In less than two weeks after the inauguration of this plan we had expanded the show to a full hour and a quarter and it is completely sold out! ... Needless to say, we feel that your telescription service is one of our most valuable sales assets and look forward to continuing our association through the years to come."
There is reason, then, to rank the telescriptions several notches above the biased categorization of "unpopular."
XIII. Continuity, Decline, And Preservation
After the aforementioned period, the telescription world does seem to have fallen into near oblivion, however. Having combed through TV schedules and TV literature from the second half of the 1950s, I am sorry to report that telescription material is rarely ever mentioned or listed. I have thus come away with the impression that, during the late 1950s, telecasts featuring the Studio and Snader telescriptions took place on a very reduced capacity. Time blocks with few watchers, such as the wee hours and early mornings, might have become niche periods.
At the outset of the 1960s, the trail goes cold. By then, telescriptions had apparently become a thing of the past. (Television's past, that is.)
In trying to understand this phasing out of the telescriptions, various plausible explanations can be brought forth, of course. The most obvious of them would be saturation: after five years, these performances might have been watched one too many times by the target audience. (In general, music video tends to have a rather ephemeral hold on mass audiences.) Two or three of the consulted sources have proposed a more concrete reason: during these same years, the networks started to regulate the length of their programs in a manner far more rigorous than ever before. Enactment of such regulations would have substantially decreased the stations' need for filler material.
And how did the telescriptions fare after television no longer seemed to want them at all? In the words of fellow music fan/researcher Jeff Missine, who first alerted me to the matter: [d]uring the 1960's and early 1970's, thousands of Snader and Studio Telescriptions 16mm prints were sold to "home movie" hobbyists by Blackhawk Films in Davenport, Iowa. They were listed in Blackhawk's catalog as "Big Time Musicals" and priced around a dollar per print in quantities of 3 or more; sold on a "pot luck" basis, no choice of titles; you sent in your money and you got whatever was on the shelf. (Blackhawk, long the licensed 16mm and 8mm distributor of Hal Roach's Laurel and Hardy comedies, specialized in large-scale liquidations of used TV film prints.)
In more recent times, numerous Public Domain labels have kept the memory of the telescriptions' catalogue alive through their release on budget VHS tapes and DVD discs. Unfortunately, such releases are all too often mismatches of telescriptions with clips from Hollywood films and television shows (plus Soundies), jumbled together in a manner that evinces little regard for chronology, order, or historical context. (There are, however, a few well-presented and unified releases of this type out there - e.g., The Ladies Sing The Blues. For a sample of the good, the bad, and the ugly, consult this discography's short visual forms
pictorial page, particularly sections VI and VII).
As for the current whereabouts of the original telescription film negatives, there is cause for deep regret. Having burned down in a fire, none of the Snader negatives are believed to exist anymore. One source of consolation is thus the survival of the aforementioned 16 mm reels, originally sent to TV stations, and eventually sold to hobbyists. (Nowadays, such reels occasionally turn up for auction at eBay.)
But the history of the telescriptions reached past the confines of American territory. During the second half of the 1950s, these music videos actually enjoyed something of a renewal in Europe, where they were watched on jukebox machines. Their temporary trendiness overseas is believed to have contributed to the rise of the next wave of music videos: the Scopitone films, which originated in France (ca. 1959) and went on to blossom on European soil during the 1960s. The Scopitones also established themselves in the United States, where they had a bumpy seven-year run (1963-1969). Like the Soundies from an earlier period (1940-1947), Scopitones were devised to be watched on specialized jukebox machines at public places (e.g., diners, roadhouses, amusement centers, clubs, hotels, pool halls, taverns or barrooms), and customers were often expected to pay for play.
A continuous line can thus be traced in the history of music videos. The line travels back in time from the Scopitone and Cinebox films of the 1960s through the Snader/Studio telescriptions of the 1950s to the prolific Soundies of the 1940s. (Though never attaining comparable popularity, the competition should also be mentioned: in the 1960s, Cinebox and Color-Sonic; in the 1940s, Featurett and, though they tended to specialized in areas other than music, Movietrola, Phonovision, Talk-A-Vision, and Vis-O-Graph.)
However, the Snaders differ from those earlier and later video forms in some key aspects, including the choice venue for which they were primarily intended. Telescriptions were originally meant to be watched in the TV sets of American homes, rather that in the jukeboxes of commercial establishments. For that reason, the Snader is more of a forefather to the MTV video craze of the later Twentieth century than any Soundie, Scopitone or musical short ever was.
An Overview Of Camay RecordsXIV. Camay: What's In A Name
Because of the name that the label under discussion chose for itself, some fellow readers might assume that Camay was a venture set up by Procter & Gamble, makers of the Camay bar soap. I certainly made that assumption at first. Nevertheless, I have found no evidence to support this possibility. Most tellingly, the LPs themselves do not feature any identification or connection to the Procter & Gamble family. Camay also being a personal last name, and the name of various streets or courts in CA, OK, SC, and TX, an alternate possibility would be that such a name was shared by the label's owner, or that the owner had a domiciliary connection to one of said Camay locations. However, I have come upon no evidence pointing in that direction, either. The matter remains unclear, due to the scarcity of available data.
At any rate, the main connection between Camay Records and the Snader/Studio Telescriptions is the fact that the record company issued many of them on audio-only form. In fact, Camay LP Ca 3003 features the audio of all ten Peggy Lee telescriptions. (The same LP can also be found in an abridged, seven-track version.) The history of this company and its marginal, co-lateral involvement with the telescription business will be explored below.
XV: Camay's Founding Period / Camay's 45-RPM Catalogue
According to the online Both Sides Now Discography
, the Camay label was set up in 1961 by men whose last names were Ames (first name Don) and Weiss (first name Hal). At that time, the label issued only singles, a practice that continued during 1962 and 1963 (or so says the same source). Other sources corroborate and add valuable details to this general picture. A brief note in the October 9, 1961 issue of Billboard
magazine states that Camay belonged to the Sinclair Records family of labels — the family's other labels being Whale, Mermaid, and Blast. The same Billboard
note identifies Don Ames as head of Sinclair Records, along with Vinnie Catalano. (Hal Weiss is not mentioned by Billboard
. If the details given in both of these sources are accurate, perhaps it should be presumed that Weiss was running Camay under Ames' stewardship.)
An internet search for Camay 45-rpm singles failed to turn up more than a handful. Three of them are sung by Ronnie Hayden, and re-confirm the connection to Don Ames and Vinnie Catalano. There is Cam 2001 ("S.O.S." / "Too Late"), conducted by Catalano and given a 1961 release date by one of the online pages consulted. Then there are the follow-ups Cam 2002 ("Wyoming" / "The Letter") and Cam 2003 ("You Know You Belong To Somebody Else" / unknown), the latter listing Ames as its producer. I was able to retrieve data for only one additional Camay single ("Man Of Stone" / "I Believe"), sung by Jeff Hunter) and bearing catalogue number Ca 6000.
Having found no traces of any additional singles, I am left to wonder if these four discs constitute the full extent of Camay's 45-rpm catalogue. (Incidentally, the above-mentioned finding of a Camay single numbered 6000 should not be deemed proof of the existence of hundreds of singles preceding it. On the contrary, the fact that the catalogue numbers of all the found singles are within the 00s adds to the impression of a scant audio library. Notice also that all the items in the 2000 series are by just one artist.)
Another disconcerting detail about the Camay singles is their inclusion of a logo akin to a shamrock. It appears in Cam 2001 and Cam 2002. (As for the other singles, I've seen only promo copies of them, neither of which bore the shamrock. But I can neither confirm nor deny that the logo appears in the promos' commercial counterparts.)
This shamrock-like logo is absent from Camay's LPs. The absence arises further suspicions: could the icon stand for an original label owner who, by the times the LPs were made, had sold the company to another party? I am inclined to think that such was the case; some of the comments to follow will point in that direction.
XVI. Camay's LP Catalogue
Camay's LP series made its debut appearance within the last month of 1962.The first two releases, Ca 3001 and Ca 3002, were advertised in the December 8 and 15, 1962 issues of Billboard
magazine. The debut album, Ca 3001, was also the subject of a review in the December 15 magazine issue. (Incidentally, numerous online music auctions give a 1958 date to every Camay album. The auctioneers' source for the 1958 dating is unknown to me. The evidence presented in this page indicates that the year 1958 is much too early to be correct.)
Judging from catalogue listings in the back covers of some Camay LPs, the label released at least 43 albums, beginning with a Country & Western Bonanza
(Ca 3001) and ending along the same genre lines, with a Deck Of Cards
(Ca 3044). In-between, the company's catalogue covered a large variety of genres, without settling for any singular focus or thematic leaning -- other than variety itself. "Music for every taste" was the slogan found in some of the albums' back covers.
In the estimation of the discographers at the label-oriented website Both Sides Now
(David Edwards, Mike Callahan, Patrice Eyries, Randy Watts, and Tim Neely), "most if not all of the material was leased from other labels and not recorded directly by Camay."
XVII. Camay’s Catalogue Alterations And Its Metamorphosis Into A Low-Budget Label
Catalogue matters pertaining to the Camay label are complicated, confusing, and poorly documented. Thanks to the listings in the back covers, all titles and catalogue numbers are known. However, lurking behind such seemingly complete listings is the fact that some if not many of the LPs were released more than once, with each version using the same catalogue number but variously changing the given album’s title, tracks, label, or artwork. The Peggy Lee item (Camay 3003) is a case in point, as illustrated at length in section VIII of this pictorial page
Another example is Camay 3002, originally issued as a 12-track collection with a red-colored label and the title The Great New Sound Of The Crew Cuts
. (Its cover may be viewable here
.) Later on, Camay re-released it as a 10-track issue with a green label and the title The Crew Cuts Sing Folk
. (That cover might be viewable here
Cases such as that of the Crew Cuts album suggest that Camay might have started out as a regular, bona fide company aiming at competing within the mainstream market, yet shifting eventually gears to become a low budget outfit. As first noticed by Eric Graf during an exchange of messages about this record company, the existence of promo copies (for the earlier 45-rpm singles and for the first version of the Crew Cuts LP) also point in the direction of a label that was not originally low budget.
XVIII. Camay's Audio-Telescriptive Catalogue
One of Camay's specialties was the release — on LP
— of audio taken from Snader and Studio telescriptions. Among Camay's telescriptive offerings on vinyl were Sassy Meets Shearing
(Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing), Boy Meets Girl
(Mel Tormé, June Valli), The Swinging Chicks
(June Christy, Fran Warren), and Champagne And Caviar
(Lawrence Welk). None of such LPs disclose that the tracks originated in the world of telescriptions, however.
It should also be noted that the sonic fidelity of all Camay’s telescriptive LPs is generally atrocious. Those which I have sampled sound as if they had been taped at an amateur's home, straight off a regular TV set -- and none too successfully. Presumably, and despite any promotional claims to the contrary, sound quality was far from being a significant concern among the folks at the helm of the Camay label. Also suggesting a low-grade budget outfit is the less-than-inspired artwork or design of most Camay albums.
XIX. Camay's Peggy Lee And Nat King Cole LPs: Dating, Reissues, And Lawsuit
Camay's first two LP issues were named Country & Western Bonanza
and The Crew Cuts Sing Folk
. As originally issued, neither album appears to have contained audio from telescriptions. (The reason for my use of the qualifying words “as originally issued” is that Camay released this album at least twice, using the same title and catalogue number but different artwork and different tracks for the second release. The track listing of the originally issued version starts off with Don Gibson’s “Run, Boy” and closes with Billy Bird’s “Hey, Good Lookin’.” The second version’s track listing runs from Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Woman Is A Five-Letter Word” to the Cass County Boys’ “Gotta Get Me Someone To Love,” and does
feature audio from telescriptions. The release date of that later version is unknown to me, but I presume it to postdate the first version by at least a year. In any case, the original 1962 issue of Country & Western Bonanza
did not include audio from telescriptions, and hence it does not qualify as the first of Camay’s telescriptive showcases.)
Instead, Camay's earliest telescription LPs seem to have been their third and fourth releases: Peggy Lee's Greatest
and Nat "King" Cole's Golden Hits
. The exact year in which these two albums were issued is a bit of a mystery. As previously mentioned, Camay's first and second albums had been advertised in December 1962 issue of Billboard
magazine. Since the Lee and Cole items were next, it would be logical to expect their release date to fall somewhere between December 1962 and, at the latest, March 1963. Surprisingly, however, a May 30, 1964 Billboard
article tells us that
"[a]t press time the trade was buzzing with reports about the debut of a new budget line, Camay Records, whose initial releases would include albums with sides by Capitol artists like Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee and other sides by Lawrence Welk, and Frankie Carle. There was considerable speculation as to where the reported Camay masters came from. Camay's office stated it would provide details, but none was forthcoming. Meanwhile, it was learned that Capitol's legal department was looking into the matter - in the events that the Camay product appeared on the market. It was also learned that Capitol of Canada was studying the situation. Tradesters were of the opinion that the Camay masters of Cole and Lee probably were derived from soundtracks used years ago when Louis Snader produced a series of TV shorts. An interesting aspect of the speculation was the matter of licensing. The Snader licenses were synchronizations rather than mechanicals, and it was questioned whether performances cleared under a synchronization license could be transferred to disk without authorization."
The writer of this Billboard
article seems to have been entirely unaware of the two Camay LPs that had been advertised back in 1962. He seems similarly unaware of the fact that the label itself went back to 1961.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is the aforementioned Both Sides Now
discographical website's assignation of the year 1963 to all the albums in the Camay catalogue, including Peggy Lee's Greatest
. Without any further information on the matter, we are left with various possible explanations for the apparent discrepancies:
(1) The two earlier Camay LPs (3001 and 3002) might have been unexpectedly cancelled after they had been advertised and announced in 1962. The label would have started anew in 1964.
(2) Only Camay 3001 and Camay 3002 were released in 1962. The label would have then faced difficulties that would have caused it to stop production until the second half of 1964.
(3) The writer of the Billboard
article was woefully misinformed: the LPs by Cole and Lee had been issued in December 1962 or early 1963, along with subsequent ones in the series. In 1964, Camay was actually reissuing the Cole and Lee LPs.
(4) Other possibilities.
I am currently inclined to support possibility #3: it is my suspicion that the Lee and Cole LPs were being re-released in 1964. The earlier versions would have gone unnoticed by Billboard
and by the Hollywood music trade, in part because only the first two Camay LPs had received any advertisement, and in part because distribution might have been initially limited to the New York or New England area. (The label had a New York address.) In 1964, Camay would have become ready to attempt nationwide distribution and might have tried to portray itself as a new label.
Scenario #2 is also striking me as a fine possibility — although, admittedly, it would partially negate my main choice, possibility 3. Under possibility #2, Camay would have been reactivated in 1964, when its very first batch of releases would have included the Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole items. Neither album would have been issued before. As for the second version of Country & Western Bonanza
, it would have come out at the same time as the Lee and Cole album batch, or in an ensuing batch, that same year. Since the tracks and artwork of Country & Western Bonanza
were different from the 1962 version, there would have been justification to deem it a brand new issue.
(Whichever of the aforementioned possibilities is correct, new ownership of the company and/or a different internal configuration, including a full shift to a low budget m.o., are likely to have been at play. It is worth noting here that Peggy Lee's Camay LP exists in three different editions; you can see pictures of them in section VIII of this
page. Of the LP's three editions, only one carries credit to Pathé. Apparently, Camay's partnership with Pathé was eventually broken or discontinued. The legal matter explained in the next paragraph could have been one of the reasons.)
In 1965, a lawsuit against Camay was jointly brought forth by Peggy Lee and Maria Hawkins, the latter being Nat King Cole's widow (more popularly known as Maria Cole). According to Peggy Lee discographer Ron Towe, "the objection was to the choice of album titles, which clearly misrepresented the artists' work." The Supreme Court ruled in the ladies' favor, temporarily forbidding the distribution and sale of both Peggy Lee's Greatest and Nat "King" Cole's Golden Hits
. The parties eventually reached an agreement, whereby the titles were changed and the track selections abridged to the claimants' satisfaction. Presumably released in 1965 or 1966, the new LP editions were simply called Peggy Lee
(7 instead of 10 tracks) and Nat King Cole
(8 instead of 12 tracks). It is interesting to notice that every single track penned by Lee and Barbour was kept in the abridged version of her LP. Also kept: a song written by Lee's friend Alec Wilder ("While We're Young") and a blues number that Lee had popularized back in the early 1940s, when she was a vocalist with The Benny Goodman Orchestra ("Why Don't You Do Right?"). Only the bona fide standards ("I Cover The Waterfront," "I May Be Wrong," "I Only Have Eyes For You") were dropped; perhaps royalty payment for them was higher.
XX. Pathé Films, Camay Records And Studio Telescriptions: Sales, Partnerships, And Other Connections
Camay's earliest telescription LPs identify the record label as a "division of Pathé Records, Ltd." That identification suggests that Pathé either bought Camay from Don Ames and partner(s) or entered into a contractual partnership with them. (Incidentally, the Pathé identification is not found in any of the aforementioned 45-rpm singles. It is present in LPs only. In addition to the Camay albums, the same Pathé identification can also be found in LPs from the bilingual Caliente Disco label. That label’s Pathé-identified titles include Miguelito Valdés and Tito Guizar’s Los inigualables
, numbered 1000, Carlos Ramírez’ Bonitas
, with number 1001, and Duelo Musical
, which features Geri Galian Chuy Reyes and bears the number 1003. My thanks to Eric Graf for alerting me to Pathé’s connection to that label.)
During the years in which the Camay LPs were released (first half of the 1960s), Pathé was internationally known as a long-standing French film and music company which had a British branch as well. Decades earlier, there had also been an American Pathé branch, whose specialties were newsreels and film shorts. In 1947, that American branch had landed in the hands of Warner Bros.
Later on, in 1956, Warner Brothers sold its Pathé library to Studio Films. Studio Films was the same company that, back in 1953, had acquired the Snader telescriptions. After this acquisition of the Pathé library, Studio is said to have changed its name to Pathé Pictures, Inc.
And thus, coming full circle, we find out that the telescriptions under discussion created a connecting thread among the four companies mentioned: Pathé, Snader, Studio, and Camay.