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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

The sad life of a funnyman

By Susan King





Allan Sherman, whose marvelous "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" skyrocketed his popularity 50 years ago this summer and was once bigger than the Beatles, only lived to be 48 and died a failure. His influence, though, is still being felt


JewishWorldReview.com |

LOS ANGELES — (MCT) Fifty years ago, the hottest record on the radio was "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," a comedic folk song performed by Allan Sherman. He wrote the tune with Lou Busch, about a boy at summer camp complaining to his parents, set to Amilcare Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours."

The opening lyric is deeply embedded in the brains of many baby boomers — words many can't seem to get out of their heads.

"Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah/Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very, entertaining/And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining."

"Billboard reported that people were breaking down doors — literally charging record stores — to buy the record," said Mark Cohen, author of the new biography "Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman."


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By the time Sherman guest hosted "The Tonight Show" in August 1963, the parody was No. 2 on the charts. It was quickly followed by the album "My Son, the Nut," which also was a huge success.

Sherman originally thought his songs would appeal to just a contemporary Jewish audience. But the general public embraced his comedy — President Kennedy was a big fan.

Sherman's three albums — "My Son, the Folk Singer," "My Son, the Celebrity" "My Son, the Nut" — were bestsellers, and Sherman appeared on all the major talk shows, played Las Vegas and toured the country.

He may have made audiences laugh with his clever song parodies, but Sherman's life was no laughing matter.

He had an unstable upbringing. He fought weight issues, diabetes, asthma. He was a less-than-perfect husband and father of two children. Sherman played by his own rules, which led to him being fired as producer of "I've Got a Secret," the Goodson-Todman CBS panel series he created with his friend Howard Merrill.

Sherman wasn't able to sustain his popularity. Save for his popular 1965 spoof of Petula Clark's "Downtown" called "Crazy Downtown," his singles and albums didn't do well. His 1969 Broadway musical "The Fig Leaves Are Falling," based on his 1966 divorce, closed after four performances.

His health declined. A decade after he was the hottest thing in America, Sherman died at age 48 after suffering a heart attack.

Over the years, though, several comedians have embraced Sherman's comedy, including Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and even Rick Moranis, who has a new album out called "My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs."

Cohen recently talked about "Overweight Sensation" over the phone from his home in the Bay Area.

Sherman wasn't a one-hit wonder, but his major success was very short-lived.

October of 1962 through October 1963 — those 12 months were one of the most extraordinary 12 months any performer possibly enjoyed. There were three gold records, a Grammy Award. He was making tons of money and playing Vegas.

After his first three albums, he had more or less done everything he had hoped to do his entire life, creatively. Once you do everything you have been dreaming of doing, it's not clear what you do next. That is the problem everyone faces, everyone who is lucky enough to achieve a lifelong dream.

A lot of Jewish comedians' humor was assimilated, but just as Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner did with their "2000 Year Old Man" routines, Sherman embraced the fact that he was Jewish.

There was a vaudeville period up until the mid-1920s where there was a lot of ethnic Jewish content on stage, in movies and pop culture. But the Anti-Defamation League was founded to stamp out that kind of stuff, which was considered very embarrassing and demeaning. That kind of humor disappeared in the '40s and '50s.



There was a backlash against the stamping out of ethnicity (in the early 1960s). And no one hit as big with the new ethnic embrace than Allan Sherman's "My Son, the Folk Singer." It was a perfect combination of current-day America combined with an ethnic feel. It struck just the right cocktail — two jiggers of Jewishness, three ounces of America and half-a-teaspoon of dialect.

Sherman's mother, Rose, married loser after loser.

His mother was really a character. She was unbalanced. She had a predilection for these renegade, rogue types. Tough guys.

Like Sherman's father, Percy Copelon, who was an auto mechanic and race car driver, and weighed 350 pounds.

Percy was nuts. His brother was a nudist dentist in Chicago. Percy goes to his brother for advice and his brother says don't eat for 100 days — just water and lemon juice — and of course, it ends up killing him.

Because of his mother's many marriages, the family was always on the move and Sherman attended countless schools including John Burroughs Junior High and Fairfax High in Los Angeles. But he never applied himself in class.

It was clear at an early age that he was only going to obey his own rules in life. By the time he was a senior in high school and he gave himself his own last name — his maternal grandparents' last name — it was clear he was going to do everything exactly the way he wanted. He just mapped his own course and he was not going to follow the rules.

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© 2013, Los Angeles Times Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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