Monday, October 27, 2008

Dept. of Lee Wiley Amplification

Earlier today I received this comment from a reader:

HI my dear friend, I thought of you today, you know I've been looking to find a video footage of Lee Wiley, a friend of mine lives close to Washington DC and she was helping me to find some information that could be helpful, she finally went to a place that has lots of videos, it's like a library and she said there was a video from 1938 where it seemed to be that Lee appeared, and yes, her name appears but it seems that her part was cut, it's a video with Woody something...don't you know why was her part cut? =( You once told me you had tracked down a silent video that it seemed to exist, haven't you known more about it? I really can't wait to see Lee Wiley someday.

Here is my reply:

Unfortunately, this is not "our" Lee Wiley, but a dancer by that name. Her name appears in the credits, but she is apparently not in the final release print. Your friend is not the first who was led off on a wild goose chase by this Woody Herman Vitaphone short, and, in fact, I'm told that in an issue of IAJRC (Intl Assn of Jazz Record Collectors) there is an article about his experiences by just such an individual. To the best of my knowledge there were approximately five appearances by Wiley on TV: on an Eddie Condon Show in 1949, an early NBC TV show called "Nothing But the Best" with Eddie Albert, a local NYC appearance in the early 1950s on the Larry Carr Show, the Jack Paar Show in 1959, and a 1951 TV program, Once Upon a Tune. There is a slim possibility that the Paar footage exists, but most likely not the others. I was never able to secure cooperation from the Paar archivist. There IS known to be silent home movie footage of her appearing on the Rudy Vallee radio show. Sorry I can't be of more help.

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