Sing along with Mitch (and Bob)

On my Spotify Christmas playlist, I have the album “Holiday Sing Along With Mitch.” I’m just barely too young to remember the “Sing Along With Mitch” TV show, but Dad had a couple of the albums, and I fondly remember hearing them on the record player at Christmas time, so it was a natural addition.

For those of you even younger than me, Mitch Miller, who died a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 99, was a record company executive and producer who was, for a time, a household word because of his prime time NBC TV show, “Sing Along With Mitch,” which ran from 1961 until 1964, with reruns making a brief reappearance in 1966. The show featured Miller leading a men’s chorus, and various soloists and guest stars, in peppy standards with which the home viewing audience was invited to sing along, assisted by on-screen lyrics. Miller conducted with a scenery-eating grin and very mechanical-looking arm movements which were parodied by comedians of the time, such as Steve Allen and Stan Freberg.

I linked to this clip in 2010 after hearing of Miller’s death, but here it is again:

If you are at all familiar with “Sesame Street,” zip forward to about the 1-minute, 10-second mark to get a good look at the featured tenor in that chorus: Bob McGrath, one of two human cast members who’s been with “Sesame Street” since its inception.

Occasionally, without warning, they’d slip a celebrity into the chorus as a little surprise cameo. Here’s part 4 of the same show as the previous clip. If you zip to 2:54, you’ll see a personality whose NBC show lasted a little bit longer than four years.

Mitch … and Bob?

I’m too young to really remember the TV show “Sing Along With Mitch,” but I definitely remember the “Sing Along With Mitch” record albums my father had, which we often had on the record player on Saturday afternoons.

On the occasion of Mitch Miller’s death at age 99 (I frankly had no idea he was still alive), I went looking for a clip. I found one — and I noticed something. Look at the fellow at 1:11 in this clip:

I saw him and I thought, “Bob! Bob from Sesame Street!

Sure enough, IMDb says that Bob McGrath appeared on a 1963 episode of “Sing Along With Mitch.” (I was one year old at the time, so I’ll take IMDb’s word for it.) Even more convincing: his name is in the opening credits.

By the way, has anybody seen my gal?

Dave, meet Elmo

There’s a particular station break during “Late Show with David Letterman” when announcer Alan Kalter usually says something funny, and tonight it threw me for a loop. He started talking about Worldwide Pants (Letterman’s production company) and Sesame Workshop presenting a prime-time special on PBS intended to help parents talk to young kids about economic hardship. I kept waiting for the punch line, and there wasn’t one. It turns out that Worldwide Pants was a partner in the production of the special.

In addition to “Late Show,” Worldwide Pants produces “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” and it also produced the TV show “Ed” and was involved with “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Anyway, good for them for being involved in something like this. Given the current atmosphere for public TV, and that economy, I doubt it was much of a money-making project for Dave. And good for CBS for letting them promote it during “Late Show.”