Monday, December 19, 2016


I was a bit shocked to read that Zsa Zsa Gabor died at 99. With Kirk Douglas reaching 100, I thought maybe she'd get there, too. As is usually the case with celebrity deaths, that Paul Simon song line played in my head: “I really wasn’t such a Johnny Ace fan, but I felt bad all the same.”

After all, most anyone over 40 and living in America knew all about Zsa Zsa Gabor. She extended her fame well past her 50's movies by becoming a larger-than-life raconteur. She took a little from Liberace (some outrageous, feminine outfits and props) and was always prepared with a bon mot to fling at Jack Paar or Johnny Carson. Her truest quote was one she lived by: "What is really important for a woman, you know, even more than being beautiful or intelligent, is to be entertaining.”

With her odd Hungarian accent and a becoming touch of self-parody, she went on and on, until she went on and on. Eventually, even on vapid talk shows, she really had nothing to say. She became a bit too much of a diva, which extended to her infamous arrest for slapping a cop. He had dared to give her a ticket.

Yesterday's obits seem to be remembering Zsa Zsa as the stone age Kardashian. That's what it takes to explain the woman to people under 30? She was obviously more than that.

No question, though, that in the primitive 50's and 60's and 70's, when "entertainment news" was NOT on the front page, and "scandalous" behavior and multiple marriages or affairs were largely confined to movie gossip magazines, "ZSA ZSA" was as prominent a headline then as KARDASHIAN is now. BUT, she wasn't "famous for being famous," like shit-eyed Kim. Gabor had been a legit movie star before turning "socialite" and "raconteur." In fact, even with competition (there was the more demure Eva Gabor, just as there is the more obscure demure Khloe Kardashian) there was no doubt who the big star of the family was.

Interesting, isn't it, that Zsa Zsa got a much bigger write-up than Eva, even if Eva was a true TV star (and "Green Acres" is STILL in re-runs to this day).

I honestly thought that Gabor's death would get a minimum of reporting, but it seems it's been a slow news day, people are sick of hearing about Trump, or she really was a legend after all. I thought there would be a bratty sneer of "Zsa Zsa WHO!" Instead, the reaction is more like "ZSA ZSA WHO??????" as uttered by an incredulous guy on an obscure Spike Jones record. How could anyone NOT know Zsa Zsa? Just on that weird name alone! Or, "ZA ZA" is some people insisted on calling her.

I recall two examples of Zsa Zsa being name-checked in songs. In “Donna The Prima Donna” streetwise Dion could find no greater put-down than to liken a snotty chick to the Diva Du Jour, “ZA ZA GABOR.” (That’s how he pronounced the name). The other example is below: “Knock Knock Who’s There,” from Spike Jones. Her name turns into a "Knock Knock joke" gag.

A word about this track, dahling. “Knock Knock” jokes have gone in and out of fashion (except perhaps in grade school). Back in the 78rpm era, there was a craze for this stuff, and novelty "Knock Knock" songs by big bands (Jack Hylton, Ambrose, Fletcher Henderson) were popular on radio.

When Spike Jones got around to doing one, it was out of nostalgia. His album “60 Years of Music America Hates Best” was basically a re-worked weakly Spiked collection of old novelty tunes. The tracks were short on insane sound effects, but did freshen up some old jokes. The "Knock Knock" gags in Spike's song cover quite a range. Some are both clever and wickedly awful at the same time.

"Knock Knock!" "Who's There?" "Maverick!" "Maverick who?" "Mah-ah-'hv-a-rickording of this song??" Hey, it beats the Henderson version, with this inept recitation: “Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Fletcher!” “Fletcher who?” “Fletcher self go!”

KNOCK KNOCK WHO'S THERE - SPIKE JONES. Once in a while you can listen on line but NOT download. That would be a bandwidth issue. Try back another time if that happens. It shouldn't be a factor with 2017 posts, but some links from 2016 and earlier have yet to be changed over to the more robust server.

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