The MediaLog MediaFix: "The Hollywood Palace" (1968)

Today's MediaFix is a portion of an episode of the 1960s variety show "The Hollywood Palace." A stalwart of '60s TV, "Palace" premiered in January of 1964 and lasted slightly over six years, ending in February of 1970. It's interesting how these dates correspond so neatly with the career of those icons of 1960s culture, the Beatles, who first appeared in America and on American TV a month after the "Palace" premiere and broke up not long after the final "Palace" episode. The corollary to this is that whereas the Beatles' music and career continue to figure so prominently in our ongoing perceptions of the '60s, who outside of a few diehard TV historians and buffs have ever paid much attention to "The Hollywood Palace" as a part of 1960s culture? (The program from which this clip comes is the first episode of the show that I have ever watched.)

Yet this variety show probably represents the 1960s in a manner as important (if not as prominent) as do the Beatles. The Beatles were the vanguard of popular culture, the progressive voice of the '60s youth counterculture. "The Hollywood Palace" was an element of the old mass culture that the Beatles and their like were countering. The show is as mainstream, old-style, vaudeville-inspired TV variety as you can get. This clip is the beginning segment of an episode from November 1968 (right about the time that the Beatles' "White Album" was on the charts), hosted by Sammy Davis Jr. ("Hollywood Palace" had no permanent host but rather used different guest hosts every week, some of which, like Davis, hosted multiple times over the show's run.) Sammy enters to a flourish of music and dancers, albeit wearing a striking muu-muu (a demonstration that the mainstream culture was loosening a little). The remainder of the clip features a song by Sammy, with lyrics adapted to the setting, a badly lip-synched performance by the now obscure pop group Spanky and Our Gang--and a couple of original, 1968 commercials for floor wax (can't get any more mainstream culture than that).

(Thanks to the blog "Classic Television Showbiz" , where I first saw this episode posted, and to YouTube user "denbobboy" for the original posting of the episode. The remaining parts of the episode can be accessed by visiting either of their pages.)

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