DEAR JERRY: I saw the recently issued movie, “Hanging Up,” with Walter Matthau, Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, and Lisa Kudrow.
In it, Matthau's character really loves an old song titled “Once Upon a Time,” and he sings portions of it several times. Then, while the credits roll at the end, the song is heard in its entirety, with some touching video clips and by a real singer.
Since “Hanging Up” is generally regarded as a “bomb,” it could be said that this five minute “Once Upon a Time” scene at the end is the film's high point.
At any rate, I have looked in numerous music reference books, as well as asked at music shops, but no book and no person knows of any recordings of this tune (by the singer at the end of the film).
Just who is the vocalist on this absolutely beautiful song? Is it available in any format?
Alicia Petersen, Lakeland, Fla.
DEAR ALICIA: For you, and for fellow Floridian (Spring Hill), H. Richard Rybinski, here's the story on the “Once Upon a Time” featured in “Hanging Up.” (Yes, there are several other songs bearing that same title.)
Recordings of “Once Upon a Time,” written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, for the 1962 Broadway show “All American,” exist by an assortment of different artists. Among them: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Don Cherry, Ahmad Jamal, and Mabel Mercer.
In “Hanging Up,” however, the singer of “Once Upon a Time” is popular 1940s bandleader, Jay McShan.
The film credits indicate the song is licensed from Sackville Records, but, unfortunately, their web site (www.sackvillerecords.com) is either down or kaput.
Lacking a way to contact Sackville, I discovered that a “Hanging Up” soundtrack CD is available, which does include, among its 18 tracks, “Once Upon a Time.”
If you can't find this album locally, it is listed as available online at either All Music Guide or Amazon.com.
DEAR JERRY: My father and my aunt both insist that the Four Aces recorded a Christmas album. They claim that their parents had a copy during their childhood, which would have been in the mid-'50s.
Still, I cannot find any reference to such an album anywhere on the internet, let alone find out how I could get hold of a copy.
Does such an album really exist? If so, could you provide details, such as the title, label and catalogue number, and year of release? Then I will at least have something to go on.
Sarah Martin, Toronto, Ontario (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEAR SARAH: The LP dad and your aunt refer to is surely “Sentimental Souvenirs, Merry Christmas with the Four Aces” (Decca DL-8191), issued for the 1955 holiday season.
Now that should answer all your questions about this little family musical mystery.
DEAR JERRY: I found a “Party Time” 45 rpm, by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. On the label, it reads “For Adults Only, Not for Radio Play.”
Upon playing it, I discovered it is Dean and Jerry recording a commercial for their film, “The Caddy.” In the process, there is a lot of profanity and foul language. All in all, it is very funny to hear them having such a riotous time.
I love Dean and Jerry and I would like to make a cassette of this recording and send it to Jerry Lewis. What do you think?
Russ Koznatz, Chicago, Ill.
DEAR RUSS: This recording, made from a 1953 “The Caddy” radio spot session, is a nice item for your Martin and Lewis collection; however, it has been easily available for about 35 years.
It is safe to assume that Jerry Lewis has received hundreds of copies of this tape over the years, and would probably not welcome yet another reminder that it got out in the first place.
IZ ZAT SO? “Hanging Up” is the last of nearly 80 films for Walter Matthau, who died July 1, 2000. He often portrayed a con man, and occasionally a gambler the later being a characterization he knew well.
According to the Internet Movie Database, while making a TV series in Florida before his movie stardom, Walter Matthau lost $183,000 betting on spring-training baseball games.
Later acknowledging his gambling inclination, during a middle age interview, Matthau estimated his lifetime gambling losses at $5 million.