memories of the ’70s – Ellery Queen

Viewers of the ’70s detectives shows were watching Columbo, Kojak, Barney Miller, McMillan and were soon tempted by a new series: Ellery Queen.

Ellery Queen was a fictional character from a series of mystery novels created by Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee.

This was a pseudonym for its creators: cousins Daniel Nathan (Dannay) and Emanuel Lepofsky (Lee).

Nathan and Lepofsky created Ellery Queen when they submitted their short story to a contest sponsored by McClure’s Magazine.

Ellery Queen became the most popular character of the 1940s/1950s resulting in many spinoffs from the book series to radio, film and television.

In 1975, the made for television movie Ellery Queen debuted, also named Too Many Suspects, adapted from the mystery novel The Fourth Side of the Triangle, which with its favourable ratings led to a tv series.

Starring Jim Hutton and David Wayne, the series mirrored the books, with a young amateur detective/novelist  Ellery Queen(Hutton) was attracted to solve mysteries with help from his gruff father, Inspector Richard Queen. (Wayne).

The duo also had assistance from the inspector’s staff Sgt. Velie and Detective Simon Brimmer, reporter Frank Flanagan, Queen’s secretary Grace and Flanagan’s secretary Maggie.

What made the series unique was having Hutton break the fourth wall by asking the audience directly if they knew answers or clues, as they explored mysteries in post WWII New York City, an element that came from the books, which had asked readers to try to figure out the clues.

The series debuted on NBC TV in September 1975, and featured many well known guest stars through its first season including Roddy McDowell, Betty White, Don Ameche, Joan Collins, Bert Parks, Eva Gabor and Vincent Price.

But after a year (and 22 episodes) was cancelled. The series sadly didn’t get the audience that had been its fans in the past, with a few critics finding the revelation of the mystery too old school.


memories of the ’80s – Chain Reaction

Before competitions became the mainstay of 21st game shows, in the 1980s words ruled in the daytime game show Chain Reaction.

Created by Bob Stewart, the show’s premise was to create a word chain of eight words. Two teams of three compete in each game, comprised of one contestant and two celebrities.

A coin toss determined the starting team, with the challenging team starting the game in the next round. Words are revealed one letter at a time, with the contestants winning points for correct guesses. The team which hit 50 points or figured out the chain would win.

On average teams would go through two chains of words to win the game, but occasionally it would go to three chains.

The winner would go to the bonus round, with the opportunity to win $10,000, while the loser would receive $5 per point earned in the game as a consolation prize.

Debuting in 1980 on NBC TV, Chain Reaction was Initially hosted by Bill Cullen and then Blake Emmons, the host’s job was finally taken on by Geoff Edwards.

The show was sold to a few foreign countries, with a version done for French Canada, Indonesia, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and became a mainstay of daytime television syndication in the US and Canada.

memories of the ’70s – The $10,000 Pyramid

After the gold rush of game shows in the 1960s, the 1970s provided a few gems, including the popular daytime game show $10,000 Pyramid.

Created by Bob Stewart, the basic premise of the game was two contestants, each paired with a celebrity, would guess at words or phrases of increasing difficulty that are described to them by the celebrity from the six categories that made up the pyramid.

The inaugural host was Dick Clark, who debuted the show in 1973 on CBS TV.Each week featured two celebrities, many of who became repeat guests.

The show’s winning contestant would get to compete in the Winner’s Circle, where the team of contestant and celebrity would get 60 seconds to whip through the questions.

If the contestant answered some correctly but not all, he or she would be awarded the dollar amount attached to the question. The contestant would keep competing until they were defeated or won the Winner’s Circle.

In 1976, when the show was renamed The $20,000 Pyramid and airing on ABC TV, it won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation.

As a young child, if my Mum allowed, I would watch this show in the late afternoon, trying to guess the answers like the contestants.

Celebrities who became regulars on the Pyramid include Soupy Sales, Anne Meara, Tony Randall, Loretta Swit, David Letterman, Nipsey Russell and Rita Moreno. The game also featured famous TV duos such as William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

As the show moved into the next decade and was renamed as The $25,000 Pyramid, the game show continued its popularity, and became a mainstay of syndicated daytime television.

memories of the ’80s – Heaven by Bryan Adams

A top 10 hit of the early 1980s, Bryan Adams’ ballad Heaven was in heavy rotation on radio playlists across North America.

Written by Adams and Jim Vallance, the song was recorded in 1983 at the Power Station Studio in New York City, and was influenced by Journey’s popular ballad Faithfully.

Adams toured with Journey throughout 1983, as the opening act on their Frontiers tour.

It was first used for the soundtrack of the film A Night in Heaven, a romance film released in November 1983, but was a flop at the box office. The song started being played by radio stations and reached number nine on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart in 1983.

Adams decided to include the ballad on his 1984 album Reckless and was the third single released at the beginning of 1985 after Run to You and Somebody.

Hitting the Billboard charts, the song hit number on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and became the highest charting song of the album.

Reckless was Adams fourth album, and thanks to the power of Heaven, sold 12 million copies.



memories of the ’70s – Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver

In the mid 1970s, a non-traditional country song hit the top of the Billboard charts as John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy became one of the most popular songs on radio playlists.

Recorded for Denver’s 1974 album Back Home Again, he recorded a live version of the song at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles and included it on his 1975 RCA album An Evening with John Denver.

Written by John Martin Summer, a member of Denver’s band who plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin, he was headed home to Colorado for Christmas and started writing the song thanks to his state of happiness.

Released as a single in 1975, the song climbed the charts, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in June, a week after hitting the top of the Billboard Hot Country singles chart at the end of May. The song hit number 5 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

At the end of the year, the song was number 10 of the Hot 100 songs of the year and became one of Denver’s signature songs for the rest of his performing career.

And six songs in total were released from this album, all of which hit the Billboard charts – confirming the power of John Denver in the mid 1970s as one of the fave recording artists of the decade.