The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 14, 2013

What became of proper attire?

Michele Mikesic Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— In the early ’50s, we had an ugly, scratchy, green carpet in our living room. Mom proudly called it “sculptured.” Every Sunday night, I’d sprawl out on it to watch the “Arthur and Kathryn Murray Dance Party.”

A roomful of elegant, poised couples demonstrated waltzes and fox trots under Arthur’s watchful eye.

Every lady wore a long, stunning gown. The stylish formals flattered their figures and often had “bling,” but were seldom overly revealing.

Every gentleman sported a tux and black tie.

Arthur, a retired taxidermist, had the jovial demeanor of a cadaver. Kathryn didn’t seem to mind as they twirled their way to the bank each week.

My starstruck mom had already introduced me to

Fred and Ginger movies. Their graceful, synchronized steps dazzled audiences for years.

Gene Kelly, an athletic, limber performer, could dance and sing.

When Kelly’s sister opened a dance studio on Main Street in Johnstown, Mom signed me up, hoping to get a glimpse of her idol.

We watched Kelly on the movie screen as he cleverly interacted with animated characters. In another number, he tossed (and caught) Leslie Caron in mid-air like she was a Frisbee.

Patti Page, Theresa Brewer, Peggy Lee, Dinah Shore, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney all sang popular songs with talent and enthusiasm.  

What did all these multitalented celebrities share in common?

They entertained with their clothes on!

Why do young talents need to be nearly nude to sing and dance? You’d have to have been on Mars to miss Miley Cyrus’ most recent exploit or Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.”

On a recent “bridal gown” show, a gorgeous young woman arrived tattooed from her neck to her chest, plus both arms and her entire back.

She purchased a strapless, backless, $5,600 wedding gown.

What happened to dignity?

Where did pride go?

I believe that people treat one another with more respect and consideration when they’re dressed appropriately.

Why do folks feel they need to be shocking and outrageous?

Did Elvis sing better when he started wearing rhinestone-studded jumpsuits and capes?

Are lady contestants on “Dancing with the Stars” more self-assured and agile when their fannies are on display?

Did Miley’s voice improve when she suited up in her bikini?

The late Gregory Hines danced with skill and exhilaration, but wearing Dr. Dentons would have cheapened his routine.

And … HANDS UP! Who believes that Susan Boyle’s amazing voice would be more powerful if she wore a black leather miniskirt and fish-nets?

Finally, would the quality of my day be diminished in any way if I went 24 hours without hearing the name “Kardashian”?

It’s 2 pm. I’m going to Giant Eagle. I was wearing a skirt and jersey, shoes and stockings, but I added a necklace and bracelet from my priceless classic Woolworth’s plastic collection … bling, y’know.

May I have this dance?



Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.