DEAR JERRY: I really related to your recent column about Gale Storm and her recording of “Making Believe.”
As a teen in the 1950s, I absolutely adored Gale. I even collected dolls, cut-outs, toys, and other products with her image.
Like Doris Day, Gale also had the complete star-quality package and excelled at every phase of show business. Storm's autobiography, “I Ain't Down Yet,” is one of the most inspirational books I've ever read.
Now to my three questions:
Did Gale record “Making Believe” because it was one of her personal favorites? Since it previously was a pop hit for the Ink Spots, it may have been one of her picks.
You mentioned the dozens of films Gale made before becoming a recording star. Since these are mostly musicals, did she have any records out before her first hit for Dot, “I Hear You Knocking”?
What is Gale doing now, and how is she?
Kelly Wilmington, Frankfort, Ill.
DEAR KELLY: Realizing when a question can best be answered by the object of your affection, this mission required speaking directly with Gale.
Thanks to Richard A. Bullis, president of the Gale Storm Appreciation Society, who arranged our meeting, Gale and I yakked and reminisced, and even tried to get some answers for you.
Nearly all of Gale's tunes, including “Making Believe,” were selected for her by Dot owner, Randy Wood. Normally, she wouldn't know the tracks scheduled until arriving at the recording session.
While Randy Wood surely knew of the hit by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald, Gale did not. (I think you forgot about Ella's involvement.)
It was therefore my pleasure to play the original hit for Gale, after which she confirmed not having heard it before. She enjoyed it very much, though what's not to like about the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald?
For the record, this No. 1 hit in 1944 has a slightly different title: “I'm Making Believe.”
Gale is quite certain she did not work in a recording studio before signing with Dot in 1955. Still, some documentation exists of a 78 rpm single (Majestic 7161) being issued in December 1945, bearing the title of one of her films at the time, “Sunbonnet Sue.”
Slightly more reliable sources indicate the Majestic single is credited to Phil Regan, with Harry Bluestone's Orchestra.
Though cast as a singer in this musical, Gale does not recall any of the film songs coming out on record, so what is on that 78 is unknown even to her, at least for now. Further pointing to Regan being the singer is Gale's recollection of the “Sunbonnet Sue” lyrics being written for a man to sing, in this case her co-star in the film, who just happens to be Phil Regan.
Eventually we will know more, but for now this remains a Majestic mystery.
DEAR JERRY: What is the largest size record made that can actually be played? I know I have seen ones bigger than the traditional 12-inch album, but I don't know the actual diameter.
Also, what is the smallest?
Burt Considine, Southern, Conn.
DEAR BURT: Anyone with an oversized turntable the type found in most radio stations during the vinyl era can easily play 16-inch vinyl transcription discs, thousands of which exist. Most turntables made for home use are limited to the 12-inch format.
I have a three and one-half-inch record of “Camelot” (Original Cast) that looks like it should be playable, though I have no machine for such a tiny disc. The grooves may even be blank.
Many five and six-inch records came out in the 1950s and '60s, all of which can easily be played on home machines. Five inches could be the answer to your second question.
IZ ZAT SO? One of the biggest vinyl records ever made is a 1983 special novelty edition of the Police LP, “Synchronicity.” Made the same year “Synchronicity” topped all the album charts, this giant disc measures about 34 inches.
Like the miniature “Camelot,” this single-sided disc looks like it could be played, though we will not likely find a way to test it. Consider it strictly for display only.
The three tracks shown on the label are “Every Breath You Take; King of Pain;” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”
This monster came out under an agreement with A&M Records by Think Big, an appropriately named New York outlet.
Their gimmick is the marketing of everyday items in realistic detail, but larger by far than anyone would imagine. Think Big may have made others, but “Synchronicity” is the only 34-inch LP we've seen.
Sometimes size matters. The small “Camelot,” a 1960 issue, is valued at $15 to $20, and the large “Synchronicity” at $30 to $40.