October 1947: Spike Jones at Philharmonic Auditorium

Oct. 9, 1947, L.A. Times

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.


Hitting the bull’s-eye squarely in the center with the title of his show, which he calls “Musical Depreciation Revue,” Spike Jones last night provided two and a half hours of undoubtedly the most nosily numbing entertainment that has ever been heard in the precincts of Philharmonic or almost any other auditorium.

I would like also to add that he made it a violently enjoyable event, which he did for the most part. Sometimes I wanted to borrow the ear-muffs with which his star, Doodles Weaver, disported, in order to quiet the sound emanating from the stage. But I must say that the potency of the comedy offered by Jones, the City Slickers and also, in quite a degree, Weaver, is more or less irresistible.


L.A. Times, 1947
The first half was funny enough in spots, if long. In the second portion of the show that started with “Laura” and ended with “Cocktails for Two” the Jones gang really came into their own.

For instance, Spike fought a duel with rapiers mostly with himself while “Laura” was going on. As part of the backdrop there was a semblance of Mona Lisa with a couple of teeth knocked out. By and by, Spike fought up where the picture had been located after it had been removed. When the picture returned to view Mona Lisa was not only minus teeth, but baldheaded.

Pigs and pigeons appeared on the stage at intervals. Blaring horns and trumpets accompanied Ina Souez’s amazing singing of “Glow Worm” with coloratura embellishments. Spike shot geese out of the air, one in a parachute. Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath did constant imitations of robins, chickens, cats or anything else he felt like. Sir Frederick Gas impersonated two characters in a playlet and offered “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life” as a solo—all in a fright wig.

For contrast, an eyeful called Helen Grayco warbled “Ca Ca Carumba” and a very spicy ditty or two. Bettyjo Huston offered acrobatic dancing. Bill King proved himself an amazing juggler after Spike told his orchestra to “play something in the juggler vein.” Robert and Renee were excellent in their trampoline act. Dick Gardner and his Lease Breakers perform very well.

Above all, Weaver made the audience his own with old and new stunts, and quick-shot gags enlivening the way. He did the impression of the auto races which is still one of his best stunts.

Spike had an enthusiastic though not a capacity house for the opening. He is on his way to his first big show. His presentation is overloaded now and very crude and unorganized in spots. But when the big laughs are roused, they’re very big indeed.

Bonus factoids: Spike Jones loved classical music and said that while he enjoyed making fun of the overture to “William Tell,” he would never satirize Debussy.
Jones says his daughter, Linda Lee, attends Westlake School for Girls and “is more the ‘Mairzie Doats’ type.”

Shortly after this concert, Jones married singer Helen Grayco.

Spike Jones can be seen among the musicians in the enlarged photo of the Academy Awards banquet on display at the Biltmore Hotel.

Although Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Spike Jones lived in Los Angeles in 1947, they probably never attended performances of one another’s music. But it’s fun to think about.

Doodles Weaver’s niece is named Sigourney.


Quote of the day: “No go — no go.”
Beulah Louise Overell, on being asked whether she would marry Bud Gollum now that they have been found not guilty of murdering her parents.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Comics, Music, Theaters and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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