April 14, 2008 2:47 PM
Historical Curio Dept.: In 1959, NBC broadcast a 90-minute prime-time posthumous tribute to a man few outside of entertainment circles had ever heard of: Manie Sacks, a Columbia Records and later an RCA and NBC-TV executive who died of leukemia in 1958 at the age of 56.
Mounting a show like “Some of Manie’s Friends” was an unbelievable thing for a network to do even in 1959; today it would be unthinkable.
What made it possible was the star power behind the special—Manie, he of sage advice and a penchant for matching material with artist, endeared himself to a slew of popular music and other entertainment heavyweights who he had mentored, many of whom lent their star power to the occasion (and raised $200,000 for leukemia research along the way). Perry Como, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Danny Thomas Rosemary Clooney, Jane Wyman and Harry James all showed up in a big way for Manie. And the money Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co. paid for its ads in the show was donated to the cause as well. (Check out the painfully long cigarette commercials!)
Ed Rothhaar of KVCR-TV’s “I Remember Television" unearthed this black-and-white copy of the show; there’s no telling if a color copy still exists. But color or not, it’s a precious gem.