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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Unforgettable songs like “Tennessee Waltz” and “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window” made Patti Page the best-selling female singer of the 1950s and a star who would spend much of the rest of her life traveling the world.
When unspecified health problems finally stopped her decades of touring, though, Page wrote a sad-but-resolute letter to her fans late last year about the change.
“Although I feel I still have the voice God gave me, physical impairments are preventing me from using that voice as I had for so many years,” Page wrote. “It is only He who knows what the future holds.”
Page died on New Year’s Day in Encinitas, Calif., according to publicist Schatzi Hageman, ending one of pop music’s most diverse careers. She was 85 and just five weeks away from being honored at the Grammy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.
Page achieved several career milestones in American pop culture, but she’ll be remembered for indelible hits that crossed the artificial categorizations of music and remained atop the charts for months to reach a truly national audience.
“Tennessee Waltz” scored the rare achievement of reaching No. 1 on the pop, country and R&B charts simultaneously and was officially adopted as one of two official songs by the state of Tennessee. Its reach was so powerful, six other artists reached the charts the following year with covers.
Two other hits, “I Went To Your Wedding” and “Doggie in the Window,” which had a second life for decades as a children’s song, each spent more than two months at No. 1. Other hits included “Mockin’ Bird Hill,” “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” and “Allegheny Moon.” She teamed with George Jones on “You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine.”
Page was one of the last surviving American singers who was popular in the pre-Elvis Presley era when songs on the pop charts leaned more toward innocence than rock `n’ roll’s overt obsession with sex. Page proved herself something of a match for the rockers, continuing to place songs on the charts into the 1960s.
Page never kept track, but was told late in life that she’d recorded more than 1,000 songs. That’s not what she had in her mind growing up as young Clara Ann Fowler.
“I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing,” she said in a 1999 interview. “And things snowballed.”
Her popularity transcended music. She became the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including “The Patti Page Show” on ABC.
She was popular in pop music and country and became the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including “The Patti Page Show” on ABC. In films Page co-starred with Burt Lancaster in his Oscar-winning appearance of “Elmer Gantry,” and she appeared in “Dondi” with David Janssen and in “Boy’s Night Out” with James Garner and Kim Novak.
She also starred on stage in the musical comedy “Annie Get Your Gun.”
In 1999, after 51 years of performing, Page won her first Grammy for traditional pop vocal performance for “Live at Carnegie Hall – The 50th Anniversary Concert.” Page was planning to attend a special ceremony on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles where she was to receive a lifetime achievement award from The Recording Academy.
Neil Portnow, the Academy’s president and CEO, said he spoke with Page and she had been “grateful and excited” to receive the honor. “Our industry has lost a remarkable talent and a true gift, and our sincere condolences go out to her family, friends and fans who were inspired by her work.”
Page was born Nov. 8, 1927, in Claremore, Okla. The family of three boys and eight girls moved a few years later to nearby Tulsa.
She got her stage name working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. The regular Patti Page singer left and was replaced by Fowler, who took the name with her on the road to stardom.
Page was discovered by Jack Rael, a band leader who was making a stop in Tulsa in 1946 when he heard Page sing on the radio. Rael called KTUL asking where the broadcast originated. When told Page was a local singer, he quickly arranged an interview and abandoned his career to be Page’s manager.
A year later she signed a contract with Mercury Records and began appearing in nightclubs in the Chicago area.
Her first major hit was “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming,” but she got noticed a few years earlier in 1947 with “Confess.”
She created a distinctive sound for the music industry on that song by overdubbing her own voice when she didn’t have enough money to hire backup singers for the single.
“We would have to pay for all those expenses because Mercury felt that I had not as yet received any national recognition that would merit Mercury paying for it,” Page once said.
“Confess” was enough of a hit that Rael convinced Mercury to let Page try full four-part harmony by overdubbing. The result was “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming.” The label read, “Vocals by Patti Page, Patti Page, Patti Page and Patti Page.”
“Tennessee Waltz,” her biggest selling record, was a fluke.
Because Christmas was approaching, Mercury Records wanted Page to record “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” in 1950.
Page and Rael got hold of “Tennessee Waltz,” convinced that a pop artist could make a smash hit out of it. Mercury agreed to put it on the B-side of the Christmas song.
“Mercury wanted to concentrate on a Christmas song and they didn’t want anything with much merit on the flip side,” Page said. “They didn’t want any disc jockeys to turn the Christmas record over. The title of that great Christmas song was “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” and no one ever heard of it.”
“Tennessee Waltz” became the first pop tune that crossed over into a big country hit.
The waltz was on the charts for 30 weeks, 12 of them in the top 10, and eventually sold more than 10 million copies, behind only “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby at the time.
She received the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music in 1980. She also is a member of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
In her later career, Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in an 1830s farmhouse in New Hampshire. He died in 2009.
Page is survived by her son, Daniel O’Curran, daughter Kathleen Ginn and sister Peggy Layton.
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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