Sunday, September 6, 2020

Johnny Angel

If you can listen to Shelley Fabares sing this song without vomitting, you're fortunate.

Oh, how times have changed from 1962 when this sweet teen queen sang her heart out on the Donna Reed Show!

Johnny Angel...evidently the boy of her dreams. He doesn't even know she exists, yet she is willing to forego dates with other fellas as she sits and waits for this Johnny guy to call her up. But, she's already said that he doesn't know she's alive.

Here's Mary Reed, off to college, popular as all get out with perfect teen hair of the time, terrific slim body, sparkling light eyes and soft voice, potentially wasting her life waiting for this Angel character. Totally unbelievable, but at the time, AT THE TIME, we fell for it.

And probably many impressionable young ladies thought it was a great idea.

Listen to the song. Note the look on her face, as this was taken directly from the Donna Reed Show. She's besotted.

But, here's the kicker: back in the 60s, Shelley was one of many teenaged actors who had recording contracts. The thinking must have been, if the kid actors are alive, they must have good voices and we, the studios, can make money off them in yet another way, as if fan clubs and teen magazines weren't enough.

The handsome guys like Fabian and Tab Hunter and Frankie Avalon got movies to go with their voices. I have to blame Elvis for that, but when you look at the crap movies they were in, well, it just screams exploitation to me. 

I wonder if they made money for themselves from these flicks and songs.

And who went to these movies to see these young studs in bathing suits? Teenage girls, of course.

Now, here's Shelley. She's no Annette who actually could act and dance and sing and had a long run on the big and small screen. But she was pretty and popular and looked great giving beauty advice in teen magazines. Her career wasn't as flash as Annette's, but she did go on to star in Coach, years later, so she had staying power of a sort.

These young singer/actors were exploited to the max. Their childhoods were strange and they probably never saw 1/10 of the money they earned. Contracts and greedy managers and parents.

Now, in a very odd thing, the young actor who played her brother on the Donna Reed Show, Paul Petersen, founded a group of child actors that went after the legal rights these kids had. From the youngest ones to the teens. He must have gotten screwed royally as a kid. He, too, had a limited singing career, but he didn't have the longevity of most of the teen heart throb types.

I will try to look into this further. I saw that Shelley did indeed address the Johnny Angel song lyrics later in life. Gives me something to pursue later today.

"I'm in heaven, I get carried away...." Sometimes.

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