Saturday, July 25, 2015

Celebrity Rock: There is a Tavern in The Town (The Drunkard Song)(1949)

Wally Cox was one of those performers who was taken too soon. Cox passed away in 1973 from a heart attack at 49, leaving behind a career great in its diversity.

His slender build hid a lanky, powerful frame, which might be a good reason why he was cast as the voice of Underdog in 1964. 15 years earlier, Cox appeared on the radio program, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, and though he lost the competition that night (Talent Scouts' format was a forerunner to the 80's series, Star Search), he made a lasting impression with a comedy routine that flipped gears when he began to sing. A yodel-heavy cover of "The Drunkard Song", or, "There is a Tavern in The Town", was the capper to Cox's performance, and was subsequently recorded for RCA. "Tavern" had previously been done by Rudy Vallee, among others.

One of these days, I may just pull up Cox's appearance on I've Got a Secret, in which he and host Garry Moore did some construction while the panel was blindfolded. You'll see what I mean. For right now, here's an audio-only performance of "The Drunkard Song (There is a Tavern in the Town)":

Not only could Wally Cox do comedy (i.e. Mr. Peepers), but, as we documented before, he top-lined the comedy adventure, The Adventures of Hiram Holliday, based on the books of Paul Gallico, and other dramatic performances included guest roles on Wagon Train, It Takes a Thief, Mission: Impossible, & Alias Smith & Jones. I remember him doing commercials for Canada Dry's now-defunct Sport cola, and we'll have something along that line another time.


magicdog said...

I know of Wally Cox but I've seen only a handful of his on screen appearances. It definitely seems like he was cut down too soon - 49 is too young to go.

My mom fondly remembered his role as "Mr. Peepers" fondly.

I do remember he was cast in the role of the nebbish shoe salesman (who was supposed to pretend to play "Adam", the man Helen Wagstaff was marooned with) in the remake of "My Favorite Wife" called, "Something's Got To Give" starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. When Marilyn died, the film was scrapped, the cast changed and it was retitled, "Move Over Darling". Dino was replaced by James Garner, Marilyn was replaced by Doris Day and the shoe salesman played by Don Knotts. I saw some clips of that film and I have to say Cox should have been kept.

hobbyfan said...

Haven't read anything on that, but I'll take your word for it.

Of course, most folks will remember him for Underdog and Hollywood Squares, more than for Mr. Peepers or Hiram Holliday.