Bobby Vinton Show
In the fall of 1974 Bobby Vinton was riding high on a new wave of
popularity thanks to his #1 hit million selling record "My Melody of
Love". The hit for Vinton a veteran sixties crooner and bandleader
had come seemingly out of nowhere, after a year (1973) of terrible career
news. In 1972 Bobby Vinton has wrapped up a 10 year deal with Epic
Records. He had sold somewhere between 30 million and 50 million record
for Epic and his success had made the company. He had been Epic's premier
artist and selling machine for the entire 10 years of his deal.
As the contract was ending, Vinton scored two back to back top twenty
hits "Every Day of My Life" and Sealed With A Kiss".
Despite this success Epic chose to drop Vinton from the label saying his
record selling days were over. Without a record contract for the first
time since 1960, Vinton was dropped as a headliner by the Vegas hotels and
Johnnie Carson stopped booking hi. Things looked bleak. The Vinton's
mother Dorothy, a vibrant bandleader's wife and never say die supporter of
her only son's made a fateful suggestion. "Write a song for the
Polish people and they will love you forever, Bobby!" she told him.
That song, "My Melody of Love", sung with partial Polish lyrics
swept the nation in the fall of 1974 and was the #1 record in the nation
in the winter of '74-75.
Vinton was approached by the team of Alan Blye and Chris Beard who had
produced successful variety shows for Sonny Bono among others about a TV
show. He was delighted, having always coveted his own television program.
In September 1975 while he was selling out concerts across North
America, the slick fast paced "Bobby Vinton Show" premiered in
major markets everywhere. The format was tight and geared to Vinton's
newfound ethnic appeal. "The Polish Prince" came out to a huge
reception by a studio audience after a snappy instrumental version of his
He sang an up tempo current number, then stopped to bring out his
special guest of the week. That guest was wildly swung onstage by
"The Polka Lady" an ethnically dressed Polish dancer and witty
repartee would follow. The Bobby and guest would reprise the opening
number and go to break. This was a hugely popular opener and some very big
names were "Polkaed" onstage during the first season.
A supporting cast of regular comedians included Freeman King and Murray
Langston and inoffensive ethnic humor was featured. Bobby's appeal was
highlighted with a second musical number, a frequent duet with the musical
guest and his own unique mixing with the audience. The show proved a
ratings winner and was the first of its kind in the variety world as a
half hour show. The short format kept the show fast paced and the end
featuring guests with Bobby attempting to sing the Polish lyrics to
"My Melody of Love" never failed to please.
The first season spawned a best selling album on ABC Records featuring
songs performed on the show. The material was studio produced, not live TV
Season two was more successful in terms of markets sold, (more TV
markets now carried the show) but a format change proved trickier to sell.
Bobby's ethnic theme was gone in the 1976-77 season, replaced by a more
upscale set and selection of comedy material. The Polka lady was gone and
much of the energy of the first season was too. The guest list continued
to dazzle, but the unique feel seemed to be missing. A great new three
girl backup group "The Peaches" was added. By this time Bobby
had signed new record setting money deals with the newer bigger Las Vegas
Casinos and was also recording new product again. His more polished act
was reflected on the show as well. "The Polish Prince" would now
rather be called "The Prince of Entertainment" Bobby explained
that Sinatra would always be King. Privately, he expressed dissatisfaction
with the show's direction but came back for a third season.
||The Bobby Vinton Show
Starring Bobby Vinton
Executive Producers Alan Blye and Chris Beard
Producer Alan Thicke
Director: Mike Steele
Musical Director: Jimmy Dale
A Chuck Barris Production
Ran US Nationwide and Canada 1975-1978
The 1977-78 season had its highs and lows. A definite high was the
addition of Foster Brooks as a regular. His "drunk" comedy was a
good match for the audience. The low point was a ridiculous association
with Sid and Marty Kroftt of puppet fame. Their creation, a giant St.
Bernard puppet was featured in a series of awful skits with Bobby that
were painful to watch.
TH Peaches who has brighted the second season were gone, and missed. A
new "Bobby's Place" segment had the host in a tacky couch den
style set chatting with guest. It was not a good idea. By the end of
season three Bobby Vinton had had enough of weekly television. He said in
interviews that the show could have continued if it had kept the original
format, but he had lost enthusiasm with the changes and felt it just
wasn't his show anymore. Of course times change and what was great in the
fall of 1975 may not have been so in 78.
The truly amazing guest list of the show includes: Ethel Merman, Ted
Knight, Phyllis Diller, O.J. Simpson, The Spinners, Donna Summer (in her
1st US national TV appearance), Petula Clark, Laine Kazan, Foster Brooks,
Anne Murray, John Byner.