WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN JANUARY 1950
 
 

The Andrews Sisters have the best selling record in America – and the seventh Number One hit of their career – with I Can Dream, Can’t I?

The song originated in 1937 in a failed Broadway show called Right This Way which closed after just fifteen performances. Yet two of the songs from the production, both co-written by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, went on to be modern standards.

I’ll Be Seeing You was a Number One hit in 1944 for Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra’s concurrent version went to Number Four on the charts. Meanwhile Billie Holiday’s rendition from that same years went even higher, to Mars… literally, as it was the last transmission to the Mars rover Opportunity when its mission ended in February 2019.

I Can Dream, Can’t I? was the other enduring hit to come from that show as Tommy Dorsey scored a hit with it right away in 1937 and Harry James followed suit soon after. But when The Andrews Sisters, the top female act of the 1940’s, recorded their version in 1949 it became the most well-known take on the song, easily outdistancing such takes on it as Tex Benke’s and Hugo Winterhalter, not to mention a rock attempt by The Blenders.

With the lovesick lyrics delivered with unstilted sincerity by Patty Andrews and backed by the typically classy harmonies by Maxene and LaVerne, the record had a “dreamy” string-laden choir accompaniment provided by the era’s top arranger, Gordon Jenkins, giving what ostensibly was a sad song about being unable to be with the one you love a hopeful resilience that was in vogue at the time in pop music.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

One of the most daring heists in history takes place as eleven men steal millions of dollars in cash and securities from the Brinks Armored Car company in Boston making it the largest robbery to date in United States history.

The theft was two years in the making and included practice runs and surveillance on the activities at the building which they entered wearing replicas of the Brinks uniforms. Once inside they tied up the guards and stole the money, leaving behind only the rope and a lone chauffeur’s cap.

When one of the masterminds of the theft, Joseph O’Keefe, was arrested with one of the Brinks cohorts for another robbery six months later in Pennsylvania The Crime Of The Century began to unravel. O’Keefe’s need for money for his defense of other crimes led to threats, a kidnapping of one of the other members of the gang so he could extort money from the others, and in retaliation for that attempts were made on O’Keefe’s life by a hitman hired by the brother in-law (and fellow gang member) of the kidnappee. When wounded in the attempt O’Keefe, now in custody of the FBI, agreed to talk only a week before the statute of limitations ran out.

The rest of the gang was rounded up and sentenced to long prison terms but only $58,000 of the money was ever recovered. In the end, though smart enough to plan the perfect crime they were too stupid to leave their illegal activities behind them and be satisfied with their haul and at each turn when faced with decisions that could have spared them capture they instead reverted back to their criminal instincts which did them in.
 

 
 
 
 
 

The 1950’s start off with a bang thanks to the sensational Alger Hiss Trial which fully launches the period of Communist paranoia in America, commonly referred to as The Red Scare.

Alger Hiss, a longtime diplomat in the State Department, had been accused of being a Russian spy by Whitaker Chambers, an admitted spy himself in the 1930’s who had later renounced Communism and became an editor for Time magazine. Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activies Commitee (HUAC) in 1948 about Hiss’s supposed involvement despite limited and mostly circumstantial proof and later Chambers was forced to admit that he’d committed perjury under questioning regarding much of his testimony making the Hiss allegations all the more suspect. But California’s rising Republican Congressman Richard Nixon saw an opportunity to boost his career by latching onto the sensational issue and vigilantly pressed on.
 


 

Because the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged crimes Hiss was said to have committed, he was tried instead for perjury and on January 21st was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to five years in prison. He maintained his innocence until his death in 1994.

Chambers promptly became an idol of the Conservative movement in America under the theory of “the enemy of my enemies is my friend”, still celebrated long after his 1961 death, receiving a posthumous Medal Of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan in 1984, even though Chambers was the verified Communist spy and his later embrace of Conservative causes was opportunistic and a form of self-preservation.

Seven decades later the guilt or innocence of Alger Hiss has yet to be definitively proven.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Well, it certainly looks as if the telephone is here to stay!

No longer merely a luxury for well-to-do homes, or a novelty accessory to impress your hayseed cousins in the sticks, Bell Telephone System is touting their rapid increase in customers – two million more homes got a telephone in 1949 and the country as a whole has 50% more phones in use than they did at war’s end in 1945.

Not only is it more popular than ever, but it’s also more efficient. Did you know that it now takes on average just a minute and a half for your long distance call to go through?! That’s right, now most people can actually speak to the person they’re calling across the country less than two minutes after they initiate the call! Furthermore a lot of these calls now are able to be completed by just a single long distance operator. No more going through a succession of operators to get you closer to speaking to dear ol’ Aunt Martha!

This truly remarkable progress is thanks to the friendly courteous people at Bell Telephone, providing the best and the most telephone service at the lowest possible price.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Halfway through its only season on the air, The Ed Wynn Show wins an Emmy for Best Variety Show while Wynn himself wins for Most Outstanding Live Personality.

Like much of television at the time, the variety shows dominated programming, as former Vaudeville comedians like Wynn and Milton Berle (whose Texaco Star Theater won for Best Comedy and Berle for Outstanding Kinescope Personality) brought their fast-moving antics to the small screen incorporating wild skits, lively music and lots of mugging for the camera and endless ad-libbing.

Wynn’s show which debuted in September 1949 was the first to be broadcast from Los Angeles, breaking the hold New York had on television, and his guest stars included the likes of Groucho Marx, Buster Keaton, The Three Stooges and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, all making their TV debuts on his stage.

Ed Wynn began his career in 1903 and starred in the legendary annual show, The Ziegfeld Follies in both 1914 and 1915. He reached his widest fame for his “perfect fool” characterization that he’d developed on Broadway in 1921 when he adapted it for his radio program The Fire Chief starting in 1930, but after its ratings peaked in 1933 he overextended himself in other ambitious ventures and he went into something of a personal and professional tailspin, returning to Broadway before television beckoned.

Though his TV program was a success, it ended its short run in June 1950 but he was a regular presence on the medium over the next decade, eventually transitioning into dramatic parts, receiving enormous acclaim in Rod Serling’s Requiem For A Heavyweight and two subsequent Twilight Zone episodes. He also garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for 1959’s Diary Of Anne Frank.

Wynn died at the age of 79 in 1966, one of a handful of performers who was a beloved star in vaudeville, radio, television and film, all of the dominant mediums of entertainment in the 20th Century.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fear not! All of your financial troubles are over as the minimum wage sees its largest ever increase, nearly doubling overnight as it goes from 40 cents an hour to a whopping 75 cents an hour!

Millions of citizens are wondering what to do with their unexpected financial windfall which represents an 87.5% boost to take home wages for the least skilled workers in America. But the elation over this news doesn’t last too long once they figure out that working 40 hours at that rate your take home pay would still be just thirty bucks a week, or $1,560 a year if you were to take no time off.

In case you were wondering that’s just 47% of the average annual salary for adults in the workforce that year which was $3,300, so unless you’re planning on working 77 hour work weeks chances are you won’t be joining the middle class, let alone getting ahead in life anytime soon.

On the other hand, five minutes spent going through people’s couch cushions looking for loose change when your hosts get up to serve refreshments after inviting you over for a lively game of Canasta on Thursday nights could net you the equivalent of an hour’s pay if you’re lucky!

 
 
 
RECORDS REVIEWED FOR JANUARY 1950:
 

JOHNNY OTIS (ft. LITTLE ESTHER & THE ROBINS): Double Crossing Blues
JOHNNY OTIS (ft. LEON SIMS): Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’
BIG JOE TURNER: Nobody In Mind
THE FLAMES: Young Girl
THE FLAMES: Please Tell Me Now
JOE MORRIS: Jax Boogie
FATS DOMINO: The Fat Man
FATS DOMINO: Detroit City Blues
THE DOZIER BOYS: She’s Gone
PANAMA FRANCIS: Pussy Cats At Midnight
PANAMA FRANCIS: Satchel Shuffle
CLARENCE GARLOW: Bon Ton Roula
CLARENCE GARLOW: In A Boogie Mood
THE RAVENS: I’ve Been A Fool
THE RAVENS: I Don’t Have To Ride No More
TEDDY BUNN: Jackson’s Nook
RUTH BROWN: Love Me Baby
AMOS MILBURN: Tell Me How Long Has The Train Been Gone
AMOS MILBURN: I’m Just A Fool In Love
BOBBY SMITH: Bess’s Boogie
THE ORIOLES: Would I Still Be The One In Your Heart
THE ORIOLES: Is My Heart Wasting Time
ROY BROWN: Butcher Pete
JIMMY PRESTON: Swingin’ In The Groove
JIMMY PRESTON: They Call Me The Champ
CALVIN BOZE: Waiting And Drinking
TINY GRIMES: Rock The House
TINY GRIMES: See See Rider
IVORY JOE HUNTER: S.P. Blues
CHUBBY NEWSOME: Hard Lovin’ Mama
CHUBBY NEWSOME: I’m Still In Love With You
EDDIE MACK: Hoot And Holler Saturday Night
EDDIE MACK: Cool Mama
LESTER WILLIAMS: I Know That Chick
BIG JOE TURNER: Adam Bit The Apple
BIG JOE TURNER: Still In The Dark
RENÉ HALL: René’s Boogie
RENÉ HALL: Blowing Awhile
DOC SAUSAGE: Rag Mop
 
 

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