Five For Friday: Ethel Smith

I’ve spoken of Garfield Goose & Friends on this blog several times now, but for those of you who haven’t been around that long, it was an afterschool kids’ show on WGN in Chicago hosted by a man named Frazier Thomas. Garfield and all the other characters on the show were puppets that were designed by Roy Brown. The premise of the show was that Garfield Goose was under the delusion that he was the King of the United States, and Frazier was his Prime Minister.

The cast of <em>Garfield Goose & Friends</em>. Source:WGN-TV

The theme song for the show was a sprightly organ piece which I later learned was "Monkey On A String" by Ethel Smith, known in her heyday as "Queen of the Hammond Organ." I looked into her background, and she was quite a popular performer in the ’40’s and ’50’s, recording 11 singles (which were 78 rpm records) and 27 albums and appearing in nine films. She specialized in Latin music, particularly from Brazil. Here are a few examples.

  1. "Monkey On A String": The aforementioned theme song for Garfield Goose, written by Dénes Ágay.

  2. "Tico Tico": This is from the 1944 movie Bathing Beauty. The song was written by Zequinha de Abreu. Released as a single, it reached #14 and sold over 2 million copies.

  3. "Perfidia": Written by Alberto Dominguez. Just a nice song.

  4. "Blame It On The Samba": Ethel played this in the 1948 movie Melody Time. From roughly the same time, this was an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show where she, Ed, and musical director Ray Block do a little clowning around.

  5. "Os Pintinhos no Terreiro": Another song by Abreu, from the movie George White’s Scandals, accompanied by Gene Krupa.

She has a page on YouTube that has several of her albums as playlists, as well as a playlist that has pretty much all the music she has on YouTube.

Ethel Smith, your Five For Friday, September 17, 2021.

8 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Ethel Smith

    1. Is that what that is? I heard the song every day for years and never really thought of it. She studied music at Carnegie Tech, so she no doubt studied classical music. One of her first professional gigs was with a show where she played the music of Franz Schubert. So it’s pretty likely…

      Like

You can use Markdown in your comments. Thanks for your comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s