Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Having lost so many — dare I say most — of the great 1950s stars, I was thrilled to learn recently that Patti Page is not only still with us, but remains very active.

I listened to Patti on a radio interview last month in which she mentioned having just completed a new album and her autobiography, both to be released soon and both titled “This Is My Song.”

She also expressed a fondness for Elvis, and shared some memories of him — one of which has me completely mystified.

Patti spoke of having a non-speaking and uncredited part in the film “Blue Hawaii,” though no one knew it or could have recognized her in the scene.

She's certainly right about that. I played the movie several times, looking closely any anyone who stood even a chance of being Patti, but can't spot her.

I give up, where is she?

A well-kept secret for nearly 50 years, even the exhaustively complete Internet Movie Data Base makes no mention of Patti as an extra, in this or any other film.

What is the age of the Singing Rage, and where does she rank among female singers of the '50s?
—Margaret Farrell, New Harmony, Ind.

DEAR MARGARET: For sales of singles in the '50s, no female outranks Patti Page, a youthful 81 this November 8th.

For the first half of the decade (1950 through '54), the Rage tops all recording artists regardless of gender or style.

Despite her stupendous sales with 45 and 78 rpm singles, for the first 17 years of her career, Patti managed just one best-selling album: “Manhattan Tower” (Mercury 20226), in 1956. Doris Day reigns as the long-play queen of that decade.

Now for the Breaking News: Approximately seven minutes before “The End,” Maile (Joan Blackman) kicks Chad (Elvis) out of her room on Kauai, then peeks through the blinds. Briefly in her view is a couple paddling a canoe. The woman, blond and seated in front, is Patti Page.

How Patti paddled her way into being an extra came about because she was then married to Charles O'Curran, a choreographer and music stager for many films produced by Hal B. Wallis, including “Blue Hawaii.”

With this juicy piece of movie trivia no longer a secret, I have already informed the folks at IMDb.

You may view Patti's canoe scene here.

DEAR JERRY: The premise of a recent “Family Guy” episode, titled “I Dream of Jesus,” is Peter Griffin's obsession with the Trashmen's hit in the 1960s, “Surfin' Bird,” and his misery when it disappears (Stewie and Brian demolished it).

Record collectors can easily relate to Peter's frustration; having an all-time favorite record lost or broken and being unable to replace it.

Who are the Trashmen, and are they known for any other songs?
—Ronald Belmont, Oceanside, Calif.

DEAR RONALD: All four Trashmen hail from Minneapolis, the original lineup being Tony Andreason (lead guitar, vocals), Steve Wahrer (drums, vocals), Dal Winslow (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Bob Reed (bass guitar).

“Surfin' Bird,” a Top 5 hit the last week of January 1964 (Garrett 4002), is an outlandish blend of two separate hits by the Rivingtons.

From “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” (Liberty 55427) (1962) comes the romantic references to papa, oom, and mow (rhymes with chow rather than tow), and from “The Bird's the Word” (Liberty 55553) (1963) comes word about the word being the bird.

Neither of its ancestors make any mention of surfing, so we'll credit that angle to the Trashmen.

These Minnesota sanitation engineers did have one follow-up hit, based on a now familiar theme: “Bird Dance Beat” (Garrett 4003), which made the Top 30.

IZ ZAT SO? Because Patti Page is an Oklahoma girl, born in Claremore, many a record collector has been fooled by a 78 rpm single, titled “My Sweet Papa,” by Patti Page on the Okla label.

Issued before Page began her sting of hits for Mercury, it appears to be her first record, but not so.

Despite what seems a convincing connection, these are two different Patti Pages. Strange but true.

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