Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Gong Show Goddess Can Sing!


If you mention the name Jaye P. Morgan to anyone from my generation, they will undoubtedly think of "The Gong Show." She was a regular celebrity panelist on that show and for youngsters of the late seventies, we just accepted that Jaye P. Morgan was famous for something even if we didn't know what. We knew she could sing because she appeared on "The Muppet Show" and sang several songs including "That Old Black Magic". We kind of thought she was more than just a panelist on a game show when she played herself in an episode of "The Odd Couple" where Felix writes a song for her to sing in her lounge act. (the quirky "Happy and Peppy and Bursting with Joy"! When Jaye P. sang it, she slowed it down to a sultry ballad that infuriated Felix!) But it wasn't until I was going through my dad's record collection one day a few years back that I realized that she was, in fact, a true blue bone-a-fide songstress. For those of you who still don't believe it, here's a little background info: In 1951, a year after graduating from Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga, Los Angeles, California (incidentally, this is where she was given the infamous moniker - she was her class treasurer and her peers named her after the famous banker Jaye P. Morgan - her real name is Mary Margaret Morgan) she made a recording of the song "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" which made it to the Top Ten. Soon after, she received an RCA Victor recording contract and she had five hits in one year, including "That's All I Want from You," her biggest hit, which reached #3 on the charts. Other notable hits included "The Longest Walk" and "Pepper Hot Baby". From 1954 to 1955, she was a vocalist on the television show "Stop the Music." In 1956 she had her own television show, named for her, and guested on a number of other variety shows as well. She was a charter member of the Robert Q. Lewis "gang" on Lewis's popular weekday show on CBS, and was featured on a special episode of The Jackie Gleason Show in which Lewis's entire company substituted for the vacationing Gleason. After a period in the 1960s when she did very little in the entertainment field, confining herself to a small number of night club appearances, she returned to the public eye in the 1970s, mainly as an actress. This brings us to where we came in with her appearing on "The Odd Couple", "The Muppet Show" and, of course, "The Gong Show". To help you believe even more, I present for you that album that I found in my father's collection. Here is Jaye P. Morgan with her 1958 album, "Just You Just Me." Enjoy!
One last note - the orchestra leader on this album is the legendary Frank DeVol - That's Happy Kyne to all of you Fernwood 2-nite fans!

Jaye P Morgan-Just You Just Me

2 comments:

dan said...

Jaye!
..."we just accepted that she was famous for something" - hilarious, but true.
I have her LPs What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life (1970) and Lately (1983), if you want to hear them. Check your email.

cranesbeacher said...

Vintage Gong Show Moment: Old lady singing "Tie a yellow ribbon" while tearing news paper. Jaye P. Gongs her to the very vocal dismay of the audience. Chuck asks: "Jaye P,you rascule,why'd you gong this nice old lady"? And Jaye P. replies "She's lucky I don't tie a yellow ribbon around her neck". Loved her ever since.

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