All the little monsters don’t need be alarmed. She’s okay. We just connected a couple of pranks from different eras. And how did Bob Clampett factor into the lives Spike Jones, Marilyn Monroe and the Bill and Coo guy named Ken Murray? Read on…
Lady Gaga had an incident in Australia last Wednesday night that reminded me of a much lighter and silly Bob Clampett moment from the late 1940’s. One of my favorite Bob Clampett stories. Let’s start with Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga rolled out onstage as her mermaid alter ego Yuyi in a wheelchair singing “You and I” and some of the offended audience members were ready for her and threw eggs. The eggs missed her but hit some of Gaga’s entourage. This displeasure with Lady Gaga in a wheelchair hasn’t been limited to Australia. A quadriplegic advocacy group called “Life Rolls On” here in the United States has called on Lady Gaga to be more sensitive to the plight of 5.6 million Americans who live with paralysis. We’ll see how she responds.
Lady Gaga in wheelchair before she had to start dodging the eggs.
Now here is the ‘Bob Clampett’ “Blackout” story.
Bob Clampett decided to take his entire staff out for an evening of entertainment one night not long after “Time For Beany” skyrocketed to success in 1949, and the group all ended up at the El Capitan on Vine Street for a very popular live show in its own right called “Ken Murray’s Blackouts”. It was kind of a a strange blend of risque humor, musical interludes and novelty acts that ran for many years.
(Note that one of the stars of the show for several years was Billy Gilbert a comedian famous for his “sneeze”. Bob Clampett later worked with Gilbert on a pilot for a show called “Tex and Judy” based on radio comedienne Judy Canova’s popular radio shows. A part live action, part animated version of Gilbert and his sneeze can be found in the lost works section of “Beany and Cecil: The Special Edition Volume One ).
Ken Murray had been known as a vaudeville performer and on this particular evening Murray carried a seltzer bottle and kept shooting it off at various members of the audience throughout the first half of the show.
At intermission Bob Clampett and the staff had seen enough of that and ran over to a nearby liquor store and picked up several seltzer bottles. Then they made arrangements with all of the people in the center front row seats to temporarily give up their seats for a “show” skit. When Murray came out for the second half of the show Bob Clampett and his staff all stood up in unison, each pulled out a seltzer bottle and emptied their seltzer on Murray. The rest of the audience roared its approval obviously thinking that it was part of the show. Murray was speechless, soaked and really angry about it.
I remember all of those years later my dad Bob Clampett was once again laughing till tears came out of his streaming down his face just recalling the event.
A billboard caricature highlighting the racy nature of the “Blackouts”.
Come to think of it, I could see a possible resemblance to Lady Gaga if the Grand Dame to the “Little Monsters” decided to go “retro”.
I just loved finding this photograph of 50’s icons left to right, Spike Jones, Marilyn Monroe and Ken Murray at a charity football game in 1952.
Bob Clampett was close friends with Spike Jones. Bob Clampett dated Marilyn when she was Norma Jean. And Bob Clampett taught Ken Murray that turnabout with a seltzer bottle is fair play.
As a young boy I remember Ken Murray hosting a show where he showed his Hollywood themed home movies. I recall this at least once included a visit to Hearst Castle. He also introduced a couple of trained birds named Bill and Coo.
Does anybody else out there have memories of Spike, Marilyn or Ken Murray?
Or does anybody have their own seltzer bottle story?