The memory of a "This Is Your Life"-style TV knockoff from the early '50s, entitled "Comeback Story," still continues to haunt me more than a half-century after it last snaked its way into our home through the co-axial cable. I still remember that they did shows about the multi-talented Valaida Snow, Billie Holiday and. . .Bobby Breen. Yikes!
As I seem to recall, "Comeback" was a series about people who'd been big in the biz but had fallen on hard times, and the producers of the show were going to help them make a---natch---COMEBACK! What a concept! AND what I wouldn't give for a complete run of kinescopes. . .IF they still exist. Doubtful.
But I have a scary memory, and so did I just dream up "Comeback Story"? But no one has THAT vivid an imagination. And so, I just now Googled "Comeback Story"---god bless Google--and came up with this from Time Magazine, 1953:
Comeback Story (Fri. 9:30 p.m., ABC-TV) is a tearjerker that shakes the mothballs from the once famous and tells why and how they slipped into obscurity. It is remarkably similar to Ralph Edwards' NBC weeper, This Is Your Life. Comedian George Jessel, ABC's new man-of-all-work, tells the story in his best toastmaster style as the subject under scrutiny squirms alongside. For the premiere, Jessel took former Child Star Bobby Breen in hand, told how he climbed from cold-water flats to Hollywood fame, then became a has-been at 13, when his voice changed ("There was panic in the studio"). At show's end Bobby, now 26, sets foot on the comeback trail by singing a song (his voice has not changed much) and lowering his head to hide the tears as Jessel, with a philanthropic touch, reads off the list of nightclubs and TV shows that are suddenly clamoring for the new Bobby Breen. Sponsors: Sealy, Inc. and Ekco Products.
Elsewhere on net, I just learned that only the first few episodes were hosted by Jessel, who was then replaced by Arlene (blindfold in place) Francis.
So it wasn't a dream after all. It was a real TV show. And you were there. And you and you and you....
The main difference between "This is Your Life" and "Comeback Story" is that on the former, they presented you with a charm bracelet from Van Cleef and Arpels and a kine of the show, and on the letter, they just got you gigs.
I think that "Comeback Story" should and could make a comeback. First subject? Barbara Harris. Only I don't think she wants to come back. Can't say as I blame her. Karen Valentine, anyone?
Next: "Glamour Girl" starring Harry Babbitt! (Henceforth, most of the posts on this blog will occur, M,W,F, SAT.)