Hello Muddah. Hello Fadduh. Here I am at. Camp Granada…
I found myself muttering…or was I faddah-ring…that iconic parody of Allan Sherman’s the other day, and realized that I did not know too much about this quirky, talented comedian/writer/producer/singer/author.
Born Allan Copelon in Chicago, in 1924, Sherman died of emphysema just shy of his 49th birthday. While his life may not have always been a sunny day in Camp Granada—he was divorced, obese and also not doing well financially when he passed—Sherman gave the world lots of laughter during his brief years.
Sherman was more than just a song parodist, although that was the genre in which he realized his greatest success. His debut album, 1962’s My Son, the Folk Singer, was purported to be the fastest-selling record album (remember them?) to that time, selling more than one million copies. The breakout single was, of course, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, detailing a youngster’s distressing letter home from the perilous Camp Granada. (A quick thought: Perhaps, one should be grateful that there was no Intifada then.)
The folk singer’s follow-up album, entitled My Son, the Celebrity, featured more than a bissel of Jewish-flavored offerings, including “Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other.” What’s not to like? At his height of both of their popularity, it was reported that President John F. Kennedy was once observed singing another Sherman parody, Sarah Jackman (pronounced “Jockman”, to the tune of Frere Jacques), in a hotel lobby. Not a bad endorsement.
Courtesy of youtube and the talents of Dave and Haley Brinnel, please enjoy a version of that song performed in tribute to Sherman.
Among Allan Sherman’s other distinctions was guest-hosting an episode of The Tonight Show which featured the debut of a promising comedian named Bill Cosby. In those days, Cos would have been an opening act for Sherman.
Sherman also published two books, A Gift of Laughter (1964) and The Rape of the APE (American Puritan Ethic) and created one of television’s most popular game shows, I’ve Got a Secret, which ran from 1952-67. He was a multi-talented man who left us much too soon.
Here are ten quotes attributed to Allan Sherman, a very witty, Jewish comedian who certainly had a way with words.
10. Nobody ever told me anything about sex. I was a nice Jewish boy so I knew you shouldn’t do it, whatever it was, to nice girls. All my life I have been attracted to nice girls—the kind you aren’t supposed to do it to. And they, too, have been brought up, at least in my generation, that they shouldn’t do it either. How it gets done between nice people is a mystery to me. What I think happens is, nice people do it, but their hearts aren’t in it.
9. When the great history of trouble is written, my family will stand extremely high in the table of content. When the great history of horticulture is written I will be listed among the absent.
8. Our act started at the bottom and went downhill.
7. Nothing fazes Nancy. She’s always laughing and singing and happy. She’s popular and well adjusted and gets straight A’s in school. Where did we go wrong? Why isn’t she crazy like the rest of the family?
6. Adultery—which is the only grounds for divorce in New York—is not grounds for divorce in California. As a matter of fact, adultery in Southern California is grounds for marriage.
5. I had moved out of the Edison Hotel because I couldn’t pay the bill and was living at the Lincoln Hotel, where I couldn’t pay the bill either, but it was cheaper…. After the Lincoln Hotel people showed their colors by demanding payment, we turned our back on them. We moved out.
4. I have always lived beyond my means. I am still trying to live beyond my means, but it is getting harder all the time. I am very rich.
3. Somewhere, over the rainbow, Way up tall / There’s a land where they’ve never heard of cholesterol.
2. At first I only used the Scotch to flavor the seltzer. Then I left out the seltzer altogether and only retained the ice cubes with the Scotch. Today, I am proud to say, I have emancipated myself from all such crutches. I drink my Scotch straight.
1. I didn’t decide I was crazy until 1952. That’s when I began making a steady salary and could afford to be crazy.