Monday, December 21, 2009

My favorite cheesy TV Christmas Special

Here's a holiday excerpt from the book I'm writing about growing up in the 60s.

I still can’t fathom why anyone watched the ANDY WILLIAMS variety show on NBC if they didn’t own a color TV. It was so wholesome your teeth ached. Whatever “edge” the show had was provided by the Osmond Family. But it was in color and production numbers always featured grinning All-American yahoos in brightly colored sweaters holding brightly colored balloons. Not having a color TV and not being gay I never watched THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW… except…

During their Christmas special.

It was the one time of year Andy had his beautiful family on the show and this became a 60s American tradition. Mom and dad and the Williams kinder would sing Carols, exchange presents, and their message of love and holiday good cheer would absolutely entrance you. That’s not why I watched it, of course. I wanted to screw Andy’s wife.

Claudine Longet (Mrs. Williams) was a willowy brunette with exquisite doe eyes and luscious lips. Laura Petrie but French. She was also a successful recording artist but believe me, if she looked like Charles De Gaulle she couldn’t give away one record. But I found her incredibly sexy, even when she was singing Silent Night in front of a crucifix. She and Andy would divorce in the 70s and two years later she shot her boyfriend, Olympic skier Spider Sabich to death. I still wanted to screw her, but not as much.

So as enjoyable as those holiday shows were in the mid 60s, watching them now on PBS they take on a whole new level of absurdity. Two of their kids are named Noelle and Christian. How much more seriously can you take Christmas? And yet, twelve years later, there’s mom in a different winter wonderland with a loaded revolver. She was ultimately convicted on a lesser charge and married her defense attorney.

I’ll be on parole for Christmas.


Rory L. Aronsky said...

I’ll be on parole for Christmas.

Not if anyone in the Vegas travelogue entry has anything to do with it. ;)

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Speaking of Vegas, Andy Williams is performing his Christmas Show at the Hilton on Wednesday and Thursday. All firearms must be checked at the door.

loveyourblogkenkenken said...

Goodness sakes. My parents had a Claudine Longet vinyl record album.
I stared at her face on the album part because we were all blonde haired blue eyed in my house and I was in awe of her dark different beauty. We were also a family of skiers and I was oddly fascinated by her fall from grace via the revolver road to ruin....goodness sakes.

loveyourblogkenkenken said...

"Childhood so easy to do...." -wild horses- as sung by the rolling stones

Baylink said...

I'm Dressin Up Like Santa (When I Get Out On Parole).

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

This is my Andy Williams epiphany weekend, I guess. I always thought of Andy Williams as a sort of Pat Boone, Jr: Hyperchristian, republican family values sort, complete with his how theater in Branson, as I know from the last season of Larry Sanders.

This weekend I learn, from Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, that he ran with Rat Pack, and something wicked happened in Oslo during his European tour. All of this pales compared to the knowledge that he was married to Claudine Freakin' Longet. Wow. Still, grinning, sweater-wearing, Osmond-promoting waters run deep, I guess.

J S Swanson said...

And, Jim, let's not forget that AW claims it's really his 14 yr old voice singing How little we know in To have and have not instead of Lauren Bacall. YouTube it. A more surreal conundrum if there ever was one.

Rick said...

Andy Williams (and Claudine) were close friends with Robert and Ethel Kennedy and sometimes vacationed together. So at least back then, Andy Williams was not so Republican as all that...

Ref said...

I seem to recall from childhood that he was known as something of a wild man underneath that bland smile.

BANDEVOV: how a musical group changes, as long as they're not evangelical.

Unknown said...

The kids today have it so easy. I have similar memories of sitting in front of the TV with the family memorizing every move Mrs. Williams made.

I also endured the Lawrence Welk Show for a weekly glimpse of his Mexican daughter-in-law.

Good Post!!!

mcp said...

More examples of enduring TV shows to see a hot woman:

"The NFL Today" to see Phyllis George (Although I did like the Greek).

CNBC's "Morning Bell" to see Maria Bartiromo back when she was "The Money Honey."

CNN Headline News to see Rudi Bakhtiar.

Fox News Channel to see Megan Kelly, Harris Faulkner, Lauren Sivan, ten others omitted for lack of space and before she left Laurie Dhue.

By the way, where does Fox News gets all of these women? Do they have a secret cloning lab in Austrialia?

LouOCNY said...


Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again, Claudine

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
She only does it at weekends

Now only Spider knows for sure
But he ain't talkin' about it any more
Is he, Claudine?

There's blood in the chalet
And blood in the snow
She washed her hands of the whole damn show, Claudine

Shot him once right through the head
Shot him twice right through the chest
The judge says ruled it was an accident, Claudine
Accidents will happen

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine Yeah

Poor Claudine
Poor Claudine

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again, Claudine

Poor Claudine
Poor Claudine
Poor poor Claudine

Now I threaten my wife with a gun
I always leave the safety on
I recommend it, Claudine

Yes she pistol whipped me once or twice
But she never tried to take my life
What do you think about that, Claudine

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
She only does it at weekends, Claudine

Oooo ...poor Claudine
What about the children, baby?
Poor, poor children

The prettiest girl I ever seen
I saw you on the movie screen
Hope you don't try to make a sacrifice of me, Claudine
Don't get trigger happy with me
Itchy fingers!

Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again
Claudine's back in jail again, Claudine

Oh Claudine

Maybe THE Great Unreleased Stones Classic -- ok, that and Cocksucker Blues

It was pulled from the Emotional Rescue album only at the last minute because of libel concerns...too bad, cause it rocks like a motherfucker, and is hysterical as any song...ever...

There hardly a Stones bootleg collection which does NOT include it, which makes one suspect that Mick let it 'slip out',-The.html

give it a listen!

Mike Barer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Owen Green said...

Recommended: the Andy Williams interview on CBS Sunday Morning, October 18, 2009

Unknown said...

Claudine Longet singing "Meditation"--one of the most exotic things an Indiana farm boy ever heard on AM radio.

The Milner Coupe said...

My family watched those specials as well. They were cheesy sure, but I gotta tell you, I'll take those "all American yahoos" anyday over most of the shit that they shovel us at Christmas now days. Can't wait for the Adam Lambert Holiday Extravaganza.

chris mcdermott said...

The best EVER xmas special was Tenessee Ernie Ford - his five year old was rockin' out and wouldn't stop, this was in the days before Benedryl.

Tom Quigley said...

Worked with one of Andy's nieces when I was in L.A... By what I could tell, they were about as normal a family as you could expect given the fact that they were so much in the public eye...

It's a testimonial to the changes in both our culture and the type of entertainment that television offers today, that there are really no Christmas specials on anymore in the same vein as Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, The Carpenters, The King Family etc., combinations of music and skits. While it can possibly be assumed that we've become more sophisticated and therefore expect a little more edginess to our entertainment, I think it's more a case of the fracturing of our entertainment sources into different categories. We get our laughs now from the Saturday Night Live Christmas Special, Larry The Cable Guy or Comedy Central... We get our holiday music from David Foster, Harry Connick, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers and Soul Train (to name a few), and there are no crossover shows which offer both.

Consequently, I'm expecting sometime in the next year or two to see an an Adam Lambert Christmas special show up somewhere... I can envision a production which involves elf abuse, groping Mrs. Claus inappropriately, French kissing Kris Kringle, and engaging in bestiality with Donner and Blitzen -- and then thinking "What, no music?!!!"...

wv: nonereag -- Spider Sabich's last words to Claudine Longet: "Claudine, please! Don't come no nere -- Aggggg!!!"

Charlie said...

My favorite Christmas special was on the old late night Lohman & Barkley show in L.A. The family was gathered around the tree and Nicki, wife of one of the hosts, began to sing. Her voice was so awful that the kids left, the dog left, and finally the tree left. It was hilarious.

Kirk said...

Lest we forget, there was the Claudine Longet Invitational Ski Tournament during the first season of Saturday Night Live.

Mike said...

Remember the cookie bear?
Urban legend has it that internet cookies are named after the bear, via popular hacks on mainframes.
A locked-up terminal prompts for a cookie, and is only released when the user types 'cookie'.

Earl B said...

FINALLY, someone else who remembers Cookie Bear!

Thank you - I am NOT insane!

Wayne said...

Didn't Claudine Longet create the winter Olympic biathalon? Sking and shooting.

Mike Barer said...

I remember the "cookie bear" He was played by Janos Prahaska. Janos would later be killed in an airplane crash.

Mike Barer said...

Andy William wrote the book on Christmas specials. I liked him because he was friends with the Kennedys. He was cooler than Tony Bennett or Perry Como. I was naive enough to think that Spider was trying to show Claudine how to shoot a gun, now I think better of that.
It should be noted that we never hear of Andy's children getting in trouble, so I guess that they turned out fine.
(sorry, had to correct a couple of typos)

jbryant said...

I once bought a Claudine Longet record by accident. This department store I went to as a kid used to sell plastic bags filled with recent-ish 45 rpm records. You could only see the top and bottom selections, so the rest was a grab bag. And that's how I became the proud (well, maybe not proud) owner of Longet's insipid "Hello, Hello."

I've always liked Andy's hit "Can't Get Used to Losing You," which got a great reggae-fied treatment in the early 80s by The English Beat.

Kirk said...

I also remember the Cookie Bear. And I think later on he showed up on the Sonny and Cher show. Could both shows have had the same producer?

Mike Barer said...

The family Christmas specials were really pioneered by Bing Crosby. Remember his "happy" family?

Paul Duca said...

For those who don't know, Mike is referring to Crosby's first family--the four sons he had with his first wife. After she died, Bing remarried and had the trio of kids many might remember singing at Christmas and selling orange juice the rest of the year. They presumably are as functional as Williams' offspring (of course Bing's little girl did grow up and shoot J.R. Ewing).

Pamela Jaye said...

I've heard Donny & Maria are off till the 29th (in Las Vegas). My parents could not get me to watch the Osmonds, they tried. My friend Linda could not win me with One Bad Apple, Donny sounded like a mouse - squeak squeak.

Finally when I was almost 15 (and Donny's voice had changed) my friend Deanna got me.
Been a fan since, though I have lost track of him for large periods of time.
I even got online (AOL, Dec 11, 1993) in order to find out where Donny was. Took me 5 months and 1 Scott Bakula fan who was a stage manager in NYC. He was in Chicago doing Joseph.

I have one Andy Williams album featuring two Osmond songs. Stole it from my cousin when we were kids/teens. Maybe I should tell him now. I could send him a note on Facebook. ;-)