Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sing Along With Who?

I know, I know, it should be “Sing Along With Whom?” but if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, that’s what I say. (Actually, I have never said that in my life.)

“Dad,” said my oldest son one day back in the early nineties when he was attending graduate school at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, “have you ever heard of a man named Mitch Miller?”

“Of course,” I said. “He used to have a television program called Sing Along With Mitch back in the sixties. Everybody my age has heard of Mitch Miller.”

But, alas, Sic transit gloria mundi, my son had never heard of him. Not, at least, until Mr. Miller attended a concert at Eastman and donated enough money for the entire jazz band to attend an International Jazz Festival in Boston. Mitch Miller, it turns out, grew up in Rochester and was living in retirement in his old home town.

Mr. David Barlow of Ephraim, Utah (mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the Putziest one of all?) has accused us of late of being “an old person’s blog,” so this post is just going to add fuel to his fire, I suppose.

Here’s a little snippet of Mitch leading the gang in singing, “Heart Of My Heart.” Everything seemed to sound like The Lawrence Welk Show in those days, didn’t it? And just about everything on television was in black and white.

And if that isn’t enough Mitch for you, below, in four parts, is an entire Sing Along With Mitch show, complete with commercials, including one in black-and-white for a Technicolor movie, Mary Poppins. Very bizarre. This episode also includes a very young Bob McGrath (he later showed up on Sesame Street), a very young Leslie Uggams, and a very young Johnny Carson. See if you can spot them.

Children, this is what passed for entertainment in Grandma’s day.

Sing Along With Mitch (part 1 of 4)

Sing Along With Mitch (part 2 of 4)

Sing Along With Mitch (part 3 of 4)

Sing Along With Mitch (part 4 of 4)

I dare you to watch the entire episode from start to finish. It’s sort of a cross between Lawrence Welk, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and, oh, I don’t know, maybe an early version of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. I’m just sorry that this particular episode of Sing Along With Mitch was made before they began telling the viewing audience to “follow the bouncing ball.”

Here’s the icing on the cake. Mitch Miller is still alive today. He still lives in Rochester. He is 98 years old. That makes him the antithesis of the old saying, “Gone, but not forgotten.” Mitch Miller, it seems, is forgotten, but not gone.

In my next post, I may show you Mrs. Elva Miller (no relation to Mitch). Then again, I may not.


  1. RWP, I took your dare and now am happy for this moment of silence. One song I missed as I was focused on the bowties and bustles. Ha. Closing my eyes, I could well have been listening to The Lawrence Welk show.
    And we say, "Ah, for the good ol' days"!

  2. do you remember spike willams and being able to sing along, bang along and yell along with mitch and spike actually...my dad used to admire all those on the welk show who got to dance with those teenage girls which just goes to prove that dancing does not require an age element for fun

  3. Thanks, Sissy, for commenting! I know what you mean. That singing seemd to go on forever, didn't it? I guess our musical tastes have changed.

    Thanks, Putz, for your comment, too! I don't remember Spike Williams, but I do remember Spike Jones. Is he the one you meant?

  4. Good old Mitch. I never would have thought he could be alive. I woke up this morning thinking about Johnny Carson. I doubt that anyone was more popular for more years, yet the time is at hand when young adults won't remember him. Such things help one to put fame into perspective.

  5. yea spike jones, i sit corrected

  6. Always wondered what happened to Mitch.
    Not so much in recent days.
    Not at all yesterday.
    ( I subscribe to truth in commenting)

  7. Hooray for good ol' Mitch Miller! May he live long(er) and prosper. I enjoyed this toe-tapping adventure into the past, RWP. Thanks for sharing the links.

  8. I remember watching Sing Along with Mitch as a kid. Seeing it now, it's amazing how simple the set was and how little production actually went into it.
    And the commercials!

  9. 'Forgotten but no gone' is the nicest non-epitaph one could wish for, I guess...

  10. I don't remember Mitch, but I remember follow the bouncing ball. But I'm thinking they may have used that on Captain Kangaroo as well...

  11. I remember Mitch Miller . . . and I do not by any stretch of the imagination consider myself old.