DEAR JERRY: As a young girl, my folks gave me an album made so people could discover if they had any acting ability.
It came with an actual movie script, so I could deliver my lines while the record played the dialogue by the guest actor.
My album's guest star was Jimmy Rogers, but I don't recall anything about the scene he and I did together.
Is he the only entertainer who made this type of recording?
My acting career began with that record some 50 years ago, and, unfortunately, ended about the same time.
Tiffany Shore, Pittsburgh
DEAR TIFFANY: I never got to hear your professional audition; however, you should have been a movie star just based on your snazzy name.
Jimmie Rodgers (note spelling) is just one of 15 celebrity co-stars featured on an LP in this series. Like Rodgers, each is ready to share a scene with anyone who plays the album and follows along with the script.
Titled “Co-Star (The Record Acting Game),” this atypical series was conceived by Ray Shaw, a well-known A&R (Artists & Repertoire) man; produced by the legendary Hugo (Peretti) & Luigi (Creatore); then released in mid-1958 on Roulette Records' new subsidiary, Co-Star Records.
Unlike most albums, available only from record retailers, the Co-Star series could also be found where toys and games were sold. They sold for $3.98, a top price for single-disc pop albums in 1958.
Now the 1958 issues are commonly found in the $25 to $50 range. Roulette reissued the complete series in 1977, and those are about half the price of the originals.
Here is the complete Co-Star catalog, with featured guest actor and the program:
CS-101 Cesar Romero and You in scenes from: “Room of Life and Death”; “Part of the Job”; and “Hide and Seek”
CS-102 Fernando Lamas and You in scenes from: “The King and the Chorus Girl”
CS-103 Arlene Dahl and You in scenes from: “Casablanca”
CS-104 George Raft and You in scenes from: “They Drive By Night”
CS-105 June Havoc and You in scenes from: “Mamie”; “Prison Break”; and “The Importance of Being Earnest”
CS-106 Sir Cedric Hardwicke and You in scenes from: “Macbeth”; “Death Is Called Sam”; and “School for Scandal”
CS-107 Basil Rathbone and You in scenes from: “The Brothers Karamazov”
CS-108 Virginia Mayo and You in scenes from: “The Girl from Jones Beach”
CS-109 Tallulah Bankhead and You in scenes from: “Hedda Gabler”; “Mr. Chumley and the Giants”; and “Lady Windermere's Fan”
CS-110 Vincent Price and You in scenes from: “The Governor's Son”; “Long Engagement”; “An Enemy of the People”; “The Gambler”; “Love Affair”; “The Importance of Being Earnest”; and Marissa
CS-111 Paulette Goddard and You in scenes from: “Peyton Place”
CS-112 Don Ameche and You in scenes from: “Man in a Hurry”; “The Taming of the Shrew”; and “Press Room”
CS-113 Jimmie Rodgers and You in scenes from: “The Elopement” “Space Ship”; and “The Audition”
CS-114 Pearl Bailey and You in scenes from: “Dead Wrong”; “Country Girl”; and “City Hospital”
CS-115 “Slapsy” Maxie Rosenbloom and You in scenes from: “Romeo and Juliet”; “It Happened in Schenectady”; and “Please, the Lapels”
This format is identical to the many open-end interview records and tapes, frequently sent to dee jays. When properly presented, these give listeners the impression their local radio host is really talking to the celebrity.
Answers to assorted pre-determined questions are on the recording, and an accompanying script suggests the appropriate questions to lead into the reply. The record has enough dead air (silence) for the interviewer to phrase the question.
Here is a brief example of how this works:
Interviewer: The people here in (insert city) really go for your new record, (insert title). It's already one of our most requested tunes.
Recorded response by the “guest”: Thank you for saying that. We had a lot of fun recording it and it's great to know the folks here like it.
As for Jimmie Rodgers, he is far better known as a maker of hit songs than as an actor. But being Roulette's hottest recording artist in 1958 probably earned him a volume in the Co-Star series.
The same applies to Pearl Bailey, another singer in Roulette's stable at the time.
Unlike the other short stories in the series, those on the Rodgers and Bailey discs were originally written just for the Co-Star project.
IZ ZAT SO? Perhaps the Co-Star issue served Jimmie Rodgers well. Two years later, he nabbed the starring role in “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,” a 1961 release.
In addition to a couple more films, Jimmie twice had his own network TV variety show, in 1959 and again in 1969. One frequent guest on “The Jimmie Rodgers Show” (1959) was Connie Francis.