Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: This mystery has been painfully impossible to solve, and I have given it every effort before bothering you.

All I want to know is who played the part of Fanny, or Annie Fanny, a singer and comedienne on the weekly “Ozark Jubilee” television show.

This lovely young blonde was a frequent guest in the mid-'50s on this program, a Saturday night favorite at our house.

I tried several online searches, none of which turns up anything about her. Even the immense Internet Movie Database lists very few of the “Ozark Jubilee” stars, and certainly not the one I seek.

A book, “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows” (Brooks & Marsh), is the best source. They identify what seems like everyone from the cast — everyone except Fanny that is.

I must learn the answer while I still have a pulse.
—Virginia Hayden, Kalamazoo, Mich.

DEAR VIRGINIA: It is not clear how much time I have, so I'd better get right on it.

The cutie you recall is Aunt Fanny, a character portrayed by TV personality Fran Allison.

You know Aunt Fanny from ABC-TV's “Ozark Jubilee (1955 - 1960),” but Allison first appeared as Aunt Fanny in 1950 on Don McNiell's “Breakfast Club.”

DEAR JERRY: In the 1970s there was a popular song about a football player of limited skills, who never got to play in the school's games.

Though he didn't get off his team's bench, his blind father attended every game in hopes his son would one day get in the game.

Finally, due to many injuries to the first-team players, the coach puts the boy in the game. But, for the first time, the boy notices his dad is not in his usual place in the stands. He then learns of his father's death, meaning he never lived long enough to see his son play.

What is the name of this song? Who sang it?
—Steve Teichert, Matthews N.C.

DEAR STEVE: Both questions have different answers, and the version you remember probably depends on whether you listened to Country music or a Top 40 format in late 1975 and early '76.

The Country hit is “The Blind Man in the Bleachers,” by Kenny Starr (MCA 40474). This tune peaked at No. 2 and ranks as Kenny Starr's biggest hit.

The Pop version, a Top 20 hit that charted one week after Starr's, is by David Geddes — a follow-up to his Top 5 smash, “Run Joey Run.”

This release is essentially the same song, but with a longer title. It is “The Last Game of the Season (A Blind Man in the Bleachers)” (Big Tree 16052).

Written by Sterling Whipple, “The Blind Man in the Bleachers” (original title) received a Country Music Association Song of the Year nomination in 1976.

Whipple's touching tune didn't win, as the top CMA award for songwriters in '76 went to Larry Weiss for “Rhinestone Cowboy,” as popularized by Glen Campbell.

DEAR JERRY: While flipping through old 45s at the Goodwill store, I noticed a Crew-Cuts single on the Chess label.

As a collector who specializes in 1960s Garage Bands, I didn't buy this one, though it did make me curious.

Chess is a classic R&B label, which makes the white Crew-Cuts an unlikely act for that company. Are they the Pop group, of “Sh-Boom” fame, or a different bunch of Crew-Cuts?
—Kevin Dunbar, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR KEVIN: Yea, yea, they are the same Crew-Cuts.

And if you think they found an improbable label for their music, imagine how discomfited they must have been sporting those crew cuts in a Beatles haircut era.

That 1964 single is in fact a Beatles novelty, titled “Yea, Yea, She Wants Me” (Chess 1892).

IZ ZAT SO? In 1950, the three Emmy nominations for Most Outstanding Television (Kinescope) Personality were Fran Allison, Arthur Godfrey, and Milton Berle.

Also that year, “Time for Beany,” “The Adventures of Cyclone Malone,” and the show for which Fran Allison will always be remembered, “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie,” received nominations for Best Children's Program.

Fran Allison watched then as the Emmys in those categories went to Milton Berle, and “Time for Beany.”

Though nominated five times overall, Allison's “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie” eventually won that elusive Emmy, in 1954 for Best Children's Program.

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