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the otto files

where the classics never go out of style

I just bought a DVD set of “The Barbara McNair Show.” This was a variety show produced in Canada from 1969 – 1971 and syndicated in the U.S. until 1972. I have no recollection of seeing this program as a kid but I’m anxious to check it out.

Barbara McNair was a very fine vocalist of the 1950s – 1970s. In reading the biographical details included in the box set and found online, she appeared on Broadway, sang in important supper clubs like the Mocambo and The Cocoanut Grove, guest-starred on TV in shows like “Mission Impossible” and “MacMillan and Wife” and even appeared in Playboy in 1968.

Notoriety and controversy followed her as she received a great deal of media attention for nude scenes in the 1968 film “If He Hollers Let Him Go.” In 1976 Rick Manzie, her second husband and producer of “The Barbara McNair Show,” was shot dead in their Las Vegas home. It was rumored to be the work of organized crime but the murder was never solved.

The information on the DVD box also mentioned that in the early 1960s McNair made “several musical shorts for Scopitone, a franchise of coin-operated machines that show what are considered to be the forerunners of modern music videos.” I’d never heard of Scopitones. However, go online these days and you can find almost anything.

Of course, prior to Scopitones there were short musical films in the 1940s called Soundies that were essentially the same thing as Scopitones, only 15-20 years earlier. In fact, the Scopitones apparently used the Soundies technology in the bars, restaurant and amusement parks that offered these diversions to the public.

It would appear that all “music videos,” going all the way back to the 1940s offered the female form and dance as an integral part of the show. However, you can really understand why someone might forgot the Soundies of the ’40s and designate the Scopitones of the ’60s as the forerunners of the MTV type video. There was little subtlety in the content and style of the Scopitones compared to the Soundies.

You gotta love this favorite from the Sixties!

And one more from Barbara McNair.

I haven’t seen any of the Barbara McNair shows yet but I’ll let you know what I think.

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