“Hi De Ho” (1937): the Cab Calloway Vitaphone movie with genuine actors… and real music! 2/2

“Hi De Ho” is a Vitaphone movie released on February 20, 1937 by Warner Bros in the Melody Masters Series, that wonderfully demonstrates the musical qualities and stage persona of Cab Calloway and his musicians. But there’s more to know about this 11-mn and 1 reel movie, rarely seen, and often ignored by jazz historians and film or theater scholars: his uncredited cast shows besides Cab three distinguished and established actors nobody noticed.  Until now! (PART 2/2) Read the full story →

“Hi De Ho” (1937): the Cab Calloway Vitaphone movie with genuine actors… and real music! 1/2

“Hi De Ho” is a Vitaphone movie released on February 20, 1937 by Warner Bros in the Melody Masters Series, that wonderfully demonstrates the musical qualities and stage persona of Cab Calloway and his musicians. But there’s more to know about this 11-mn and 1 reel movie, rarely seen, and often ignored by jazz historians and film or theater scholars: his uncredited cast shows besides Cab three distinguished and established actors nobody noticed.  Until now! (PART 1/2) Read the full story →

Cab Calloway on Television: 2 - The Forties

“Recognized as a ‘natural’ for television, Cab has made several test performances before the television cameras” states The Macon News dated February 2, 1947. But Cab Calloway’s first known TV appearance is only dated a few weeks before, on January 17, 1947 between 11:30 pm and 1 am. Cab indeed performs on the debuting TV Show “Cavalcade of Bands” for the March of Dimes Telethon, along with bandleaders Jimmy Dorsey and Guy Lombardo. The show, probably shot in Chicago, was telecast on the CBS Network. From then on, Cab will appear frequently on many TV shows and will participate in numerous telethons on TV until the late 1980’s. I haven’t found yet any other appearance for 1947. Remember that at the end of 1947, his feature movie “Hi De Ho” is released in movie theaters. But, starting 1948, Cab will progressively share his time among stage, radio, and TV studios. And that’s the right time for Cab: in April 1948, he disbanded his orchestra, only keeping a small combo with him. The forthcoming years will be hard for Cab, Duke, Count, Woody, Benny and many more! Cab quickly understands the power of television and struggles to get a spot on the small screen that is starting to get a room in many homes in the USA. He almost got his own show but the black and white screens still had issues having an African American artist as the main feature on a regular TV show. Read the full story →

Cab Calloway on Television: 1 - The Thirties

Before merchandized television sets were sold to the American customer, a couple of movies using the primitive and experimental television as a futuristic subject of fantasy welcomed Cab Calloway in a couple of scenes. And that started as early as 1933! In this first episode in our series "Cab Calloway on Television" by decades, we'll see that even when the television invention is at its dawn, Cab Calloway already has many assets to become one of the new big stars of the small screen... Read the full story →

Cab Calloway in the movie “Manhattan Merry-Go-Round”, 1937

Among the cameos Cab Calloway did in several movies, this one for Manhattan Merry-Go-Round remains quite obscure and barely appears in people’s minds when talking about jazz on screen. Yet, this short sequence within a mediocre “filmusical” produced by the low budget Republic Studio is in fact interesting for jazz and dance fans: the song, the music with a great tenor sax solo by Chu Berry in his only known filmed appearance and the Lindy Hoppers gyrations plus the peculiar advertising for the movie make it worth some attention. The Hi De Ho Blog tells you everything we know about it! Read the full story →

The “ST. LOUIS BLUES” movie (1958): A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

St. Louis Blues (1958) starring Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway is a truly awful film with an outstanding cast.  Our friend and fellow Cab Calloway fan Keller Whalen has left no stone unturned in uncovering the behind-the-scenes details – he even watched the movie several times.  The Hi De Ho Blog is pleased to present a fascinating look at the story of how a bad film was made and the often hilarious reviews that followed its release.  Read the full story →

“The Love Boat” (1982)

  Following the success of The Blues Brothers, Cab Calloway is growing interest on the part of producers. Television in particular is interested. Cab has made ​​a few appearances in the series (Madigan, and other particular which we'll write a future series of notes) but it is in LOVE BOAT that Cab will have a major musical role. He's surrounded by Ann Miller, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman and many old fashioned stars. Kind of tacky. Yet, it allow us to watch Cab play comedy and contributes to musical numbers with the one and only crew from The Love Boat! Read the full story →

McDonald and “Minnie the Moocher” (1985)

La personnalité et les chansons de Cab Calloway en ont fait un icone publicitaire depuis longtemps. Avec le revival suite à la sortie des films "The Blues Brothers" (John LANDIS, 1980) et "The Cotton Club" (Francis F. COPPOLA, 1984) , Cab est revenu sous le feu des projecteurs. Read the full story →

“Sesame Street” (1980)

  Si Cab est resté longtemps connu des enfants et des trentenaires d'aujourd'hui aux USA, c'est grâce à ses apparitions télévisées (et maintes fois répétées) dans l'émission pour enfants Sesame Street. Enregistrées pendant la saison 12 (1980), trois saynètes chantées permirent de faire découvrir le roi du Hi de Ho aux plus petits, dans un décor inspiré du Cotton Club. Read the full story →

“Uptown” (1980)

  Quand la télévision américaine célèbre une des plus prestigieuses salles de spectacle de New York, elle n’y va pas de mainmorte ! Pendant 2 heures, cette émission datant de 1980 et écrite par Harry Crane (qui écrivit quelques années plus tôt le film Ziegfeld Follies et quelques shows de Dean Martin) et Marty Farrell (spécialiste des émissions « Tribute ») va faire revivre l’Apollo Theatre. Le show TV de 1980 est mené tambour battant et Cab swinguant puisque le roi du Hi de Ho est le maître de cérémonie. Voici d’ailleurs la séquence générique (seul extrait que je connaisse d’ailleurs de cette émission) qui permet de voir un bon vieux Cab de 73 ans en pleine forme, dansant et chantant comme quarante ans plus tôt ! Read the full story →

“The Blues Brothers” (1980)

  Voici le film qui a fait découvrir Cab Calloway à toute une génération de spectateurs (moi en l’occurrence) et qui a largement contribué à relancer sa carrière à l’approche de ses 80 ans ! On ne reviendra pas ou prou sur ce film épique tourné par John LANDIS et basé sur les personnages développés par John BELUSHI et Dan AYKROYD pour l’émission TV « Saturday Night Live ». Le rôle de Cab Calloway n’a que quelques répliques mais connaît son apogée au moment du concert final lorsqu’il chante sa chanson-signature « Minnie The Moocher ». Il apparaît alors comme par magie dans sa tenue de scène blanche des années du Cotton Club. Read the full story →

“The Singing Kid” (1936)

  Here's a movie of minor interest, except the stage is shared by two stars of the time, Al Jolson and - of course - Cab Calloway. In The Singing Kid, Jolson plays the role of a star of radio and stage who lives alone in a penthouse in New York. Unable to succeed in love, he is abandoned by his fiancée who leaves with his manager, the latter leaving him owing half a million dollars in taxes. Al drowns in alcohol and can no longer sing. Deciding to leave show business, he goes to rest in the countryside where he falls in love with a young girl. Forgive me if I didn’t inform you of the complexity of the plot...   Read the full story →