The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

February 13, 2010

MICHELE M. BENDER | Variety once was the spice of life

For some reason, The TV Guide Channel obsessively plays a show called “American Idol Rewind” while displaying its programming menu.

I didn’t watch “American Idol” the first time around. I hardly need a rewind.

As a kid, I watched “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour,” the “grandfather” of “American Idol” and others.

Jugglers, comics, tap dancers and magicians competed, in addition to singers, to earn the highest score on the “applause meter.”

I miss variety shows. Talk shows have pretty much replaced them, but that’s not the same.

Celebrities appear in mini-segments to promote their latest TV shows, movies or books. A comedian delivers five minutes of stand-up.

Singers perform hasty numbers. Over and out.

I miss diversity, different areas of ability. Don’t get me wrong; I could have easily done without the sock puppet (Senor Wences) and the mouse (Topo Gigio) on Ed Sullivan.

But enjoying an assortment of individuals’ performances is something I miss.

Today’s “celebrities” seem to be known better for their antics in private (or not so private) life than for their sheer talent. A fast-paced hour of wholesome family entertainment would be refreshing and welcome.

I remember programs mostly by the nights they aired. Saturdays featured rubber-faced Red Skelton, aka Freddie the Freeloader; Jackie Gleason, who gave us The Honeymooners; and Perry Como who sang Ave Maria like an angel every Christmas.

Steve Allen had an impressive run, but Ed Sullivan ultimately ruled Sundays. Who can forget the appearances there by Elvis, and later by the Beatles?

In subsequent years, the Smothers Brothers, Sonny and Cher and Glen Campbell left their marks on Sundays as well.

For me, the only memorable Monday program was “Laugh-In.”

Tuesdays belonged first to Uncle Miltie (Milton Berle), and later to Dinah Shore, but the queen of Tuesdays will always be Carol Burnett.

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Michele Bender
  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Scenic road to recovery

    I thought this busy summer wore me out.
    Father’s Day afternoon I flopped in my recliner and forced myself to do some bookkeeping. I licked an envelope and gasped. No spit, only blood ... as if Hannibal Lecter just served me lunch.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Licorice lends a paw

    I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.
    She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele Those oldies, but goodies

    Twice yearly Hollywood marches out a platoon of war movies.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Living life out loud

    “If I make it to Medicare,” I declared, “I’m going to throw a party people will not forget! It’ll be something no one’s ever done!”
    Well, I made it to 65.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch the stars come out

    Every spring, I catch drive-in movie fever. We are blessed to have three outdoor theaters in a 30-mile radius. Movies under the stars … heavenly!

    May 3, 2014

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | Whisper sweet nothings in my ear

    “Your call is very important to us,” growled the crabby lady at the utility company. “Please wait for the next available representative.”

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele MICHELE M. BENDER | Sock it to me


    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | What happened to Christmas?

    Headaches rarely bother me. I always felt sorry for folks trapped in the Advil/Dristan web.
    I woke up at 4 a.m. Dec 17 with a headache that probably registered on a Richter scale. (People in New Zealand experienced aftershocks.)

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo


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