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.