Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


It’s obvious that I got out of showbiz in the nick of time. If I had continued, I might have overdosed on drugs and alcohol, or been mobbed and beaten by fans, or even put in some Russian gulag and shot to death.

Overdosed on drugs?

NEWS RELEASE; Rob Pilatus, a former model whose career as half the pop music duo Milli Vanilli crashed in disgrace after it was revealed that the group lip-synced its songs, died at 32. Mr. Pilatus was alone when he died in a Frankfurt hotel room after consuming alcohol and pills.

Mobbed by irate fans?

NEWS RELEASE: When the audience discovered that Pop singer Ashlee Simpson was lip-synching her song on "Saturday Night Live," she rushed off the stage in total embarrassment. Her fans were outraged.

Arrested and shot?

NEWS RELEASE: The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, ordered a ban on lip-synching in his country, citing its “negative effect on the development of singing and musical art.” Under the order, lip-synching is to be banned on television, at all cultural events and even at private parties.

In 1959, I was host of a daily television show called, “The Lloyd Thaxton Record Shop.” It was on KCOP in Los Angeles for one hour a day at 11:00 AM. I sat behind a cardboard counter in front of a little cheesy set made to look like a shelf for record albums. I talked, played records and interviewed a music guest each day while plugging their latest records or albums. The guests did not perform. So what did I do while the record played?

Before I answer that, let me tell you tell you the whole story and why I am still shaking.

One day my guest was the great songwriter Jimmy McHugh (I'm in The Mood For Love, Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night, etc). He was there to plug a new album of Frank Sinatra songs, all of which he had written. With him in the studio was his good friend and constant companion, the famous Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons. Get just one mention in Louella's column and you had it made in Hollywood.

In the interview Jimmy McHugh and I talked about a special Sinatra number. Then I got up and went to another little cheesy set off to the side and lip-synced the record (Oh that’s what you did when the record was playing). There was no regular studio audience and Louella Parsons was the only person sitting in the studio watching the show. I finished the number, went back to the counter to thank and say good-bye to McHugh. It was just another day at the Lloyd Thaxton Record Shop.

You can imagine my surprise (and horror) when I read the next morning’s newspaper. There it was, right at the top of Louella Parson’s column: “Yesterday I had the pleasure to see and hear a brand new singer in town. Remember his name: Lloyd Thaxton. I guarantee that this young man is going to be a big star. He sounds just like Frank Sinatra.”

When you also take into consideration The Lloyd Thaxton Show, I repeated that act everyday for over nine years (although I sometimes sounded more like Johnny Rivers or James Brown). If anyone had ever found out the truth, I can’t imagine what might have happened to me.


Blogger By Ken Levine said...

Loose lips sink ships and countries. To this day there are still songs I can't hear without picturing you lip syncing them. You managed to lip sync songs better and more entertaining than the actual artists themselves.

10:08 PM

Blogger Howard Albrecht said...

Milli Vinilli also lip synced and it ended their career. That's because they were doing it to their own music. Now if they synced to Sinatra, who knows how far they could have gone.

8:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

..well your lip synching was done as pure fun and for amusement. Sadly Milli Vanilli was an example of how ruthless the industry can be and this was an example of two innocent entertainers drawn into the industry without the knowledge they needed to fend for themselves and survive. Your show was just so exemplary of how simple and fun life was back then--thank God t.v. celebrities such as yourself were around to bring pleasure to the American viewing audience---pattyg

9:56 PM

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