Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Your research last year into records issued with TV show themes was amazing, and I think you just might be able to help me solve a mystery.

In the 1950s, my mother often watched "Modern Romance," a show in which Ross Martin was a regular cast member. This was long before he was in "Wild Wild West."

I didn't care about the romances, but I loved the theme song, by a female singer. And you didn't mention it.

What is the song, who was the unnamed singer, and was it ever a record? My searches have all been useless.
—Minnie Donaldson, Roanoke, Va.

DEAR MINNIE: It's not a huge variance, but your searches may have been limited by the name of the show, which is "Modern Romances" (plural).

Yes, Ross Martin was the main character on this NBC-TV soap opera (1954-1958), 10 years before he and Robert Conrad co-starred in "Wild Wild West," for CBS-TV.

As for that forgotten song, it is "Forgetting (Theme from the Modern Romances Production Macbeth)" an infectious tune performed by the then unknown Connie Francis.

Issued in June 1956 on 45 and 78 rpm singles (MGM 12251), "Forgetting" was Connie's fifth record that just didn't click.

There would be four more consecutive flops before "Who's Sorry Now" (1958), her 10th MGM single, and also the one that changed her life and opened the door to an incomparable career.

But because Connie was not yet famous, MGM's advertising department placed ads in the trade magazines using the TV show to draw attention to "Forgetting," with such phrases as "Getting Big Plugs on the NBC-TV Show Modern Romances," and "As Featured on Modern Romances."

It is interesting to see them using the show to get Connie's name out there, when a few years later, she would be the headliner used to promote something on television.

DEAR JERRY: In the early 1960s, around the time when Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" was popular, a girlfriend played me a 45 of a dreamy version of "Maria Elena." I think this was also by Dino.

It's been over 50 years, but I've never forgotten how much I liked this rendition. Only problem is I have never been able to find it.

A few years later his album of Spanish tunes came out and I was quite sure it would include "Maria Elena," but it did not.

Has it been deleted from his catalog, or is it actually by someone else?
—Patti Mayfield, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR PATTI: Beginning in 1941, when Lorenzo Barcelata and Sidney K. Russell wrote "Maria Elena," numerous artists recorded their beautiful song.

One of the first to jump on it was Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra with vocalist Bob Eberly (Decca 3698), and their single reached No. 1.

Among the many others who recorded "Maria Elena" over the next 19 years are: Gene Autry; Bob Carroll; Wayne King; Tony Pastor; Red River Dave; Andy Russell; Bob Skyles; and Lawrence Welk.

Which brings us to 1960, a year when there was only one "Maria Elena" single, and it is by Ray Smith with the Anita Kerr Singers.

In a quirky kind of way, there is a Dean Martin connection here that may explain why you thought he sang "Maria Elena."

Ray Smith's single (Judd 1017) is backed with "Put Your Arms Around Me Honey," and on that track Ray sounds very much like Dean, intentionally no doubt.

If your girlfriend played both sides of the record for you, it's easy to understand the mix-up.

Hear "Maria Elena" here.

IZ ZAT SO? In 1963, when "Maria Elena" by Los Indios Tabajaras reached No. 1, it became the first of only two chart-topping tunes of the 1940s to return to No. 1 in the '60s.

The other is Vaughn Monroe's "There I've Said It Again" in 1945. Of course it was Bobby Vinton's remake that ruled the charts in early 1964, that is until it was displaced by the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

There are also two in this 1940s-1960s category that deserve honorable mention.

In 1960, the Browns peaked at No. 5 with their remake of "The Old Lamplighter," a No. 1 hit in 1946 by Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra (Featuring Billy Williams).

Next came the Marcels with their 1961 doo-wop revival of Ted Weems' "Heartaches" (1947). His was No. 1 and theirs reached No. 7. "Heartaches" was the follow-up to the Marcels' only No. 1 record, "Blue Moon," another 1940s tune resurrected in their doo-wop style.

IZ ZAT SO? When Tom T. Hall wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." he could never have imagined what a cultural phenomenon he'd created.

Not only did Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 recording top both the pop and country charts in the U.S. and Canada — the first time ever accomplished by a female — but that one little phonograph record inspired a feature film (1978) AND a TV series (1981). That too had never happened before.

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page