Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's My Wednesdays #7 (Now on Thursday): Cry

Arlene (and her most individual blindfold) is particularly endearing in this segment from 1954, although the Mystery Challenger today may have a slightly more faded reputation than most.

At the time, though, Johnnie Ray was a massive star, here fresh off his first stint in Hollywood, where Fox lined him up with some intimidating talent (Merman, Monroe, Mitzi Gaynor, Dan Dailey) in the hope that his recording mojo might somehow translate into making him a screen sensation.  It didn't quite work, and however charming he is here, one can see why.  He's almost unnervingly guileless, the directness that made him a hit with the bobbysoxers somehow uncomfortable when he's not singing.

This was the first of two Ray appearances as Mystery Challenger (the second came in 1957), and while it's alleged that it may have been here that he started what was allegedly a secret relationship with Miss Kilgallen, they give no hint of hidden passion.  If the rumors are true, it was something of a blip in Ray's private life, which wasn't, so to speak, heavy on girlfriends (IYKWIMAITYD).

His career faltered when his histrionic style (which arguably helped pave the way for at least some of what followed) came to seem a little much in the '60s.  He remained a name to conjure with abroad (still big, comparatively, in the UK and Australia until the '80s), but by 1969 he was working as Judy Garland's opening act for her final performances and later was a "whatever happened to?"-level attraction on the Vegas strip  He drank (something he had in common with both Dorothy and Judy), and cirrhosis got him in the end, in 1990.

Here, though that's all in the future, and he's having fun with the panel on a Sunday night, about to embark on every boy's dream, a torrid affair with Dorothy Kilgallen...

1 comment:

  1. Arlene's mask is massively disturbing but she is dogged in her questioning.

    Ray had a fine voice but OY! to watch him sing was distracting. I love There's No Business Like Show Business but there are times when I was sure his lower jaw was going to break off in the middle of a song. And leaving the theatre to become a priest!!! Even my little brain when I watched as a child felt something was awry in that!