(Pictured: I’m clearing up some odds and ends today, with two bits that didn’t add up to full posts on their own. There is no picture that fits both subjects, so please enjoy this cat listening to music.)
When radio stations opened their weekly package from American Top 40, they sometimes found a memo attached to the cue sheet. It would inform stations of extra commercial time available to them that week, alert them to the presence of a guest host on that week’s show, or remind them of upcoming specials. The show dated February 9, 1974, included a memo promoting a couple of upcoming TV appearances Casey was making. He had a guest role on Hawaii Five-O, but also: “Casey plays a comic Adolph Hitler in a Dean Martin roast of Don Rickles.”
That might be the most 70s sentence ever written. Go and watch it, then come back here and read the rest of this.
There’s a lot to take in. There is Casey’s dreadful acting, although it is kind of a kick to see him do something so different from his on-air persona. (His Casey-ness overwhelms every other part I have ever seen him in.) And there is the gobsmacking inappropriateness of the entire bit, at least to those of us watching 48 years later.
The really interesting bit is right at the end. Casey-as-Hitler says that Rickles is “the only person who has bombed in more cities than I have,” then kisses Rickles full on the mouth before exiting the stage. While the audience and attendees explode in laughter and applause, there’s a quick shot of Rickles turning to Jack Klugman, sitting on his left. We can hear Klugman say, “Casey Kasem,” so clearly Rickles had no idea who he was. Then Martin steps back up to the podium and thanks “Casey Ka-SEM,” putting the emphasis on the last syllable of his surname.
Casey has 134 acting credits at IMDB, although the vast majority of them are for voicework, or in roles where he appeared as himself. His last role in which he played a character seems to have been on a 1984 episode of Fantasy Island. But in the 70s, he was seen on episodes of Switch, Quincy M.E. (with Klugman), Police Story, and Ironside. He was on Hawaii Five-O twice: in the February 1974 role, he played an inflammatory TV talk-show host; in October 1974, he was a crooked appliance store manager.
Casey pursued acting roles in movies and on TV practically from the moment he arrived in California, and it’s not a stretch to think he might have preferred that sort of stardom to the kind he achieved behind a microphone.
OK, New Topic: I exchanged e-mails the other day with a guy who attended both the Iola People’s Fair and Sound Storm rock festivals in Wisconsin back in 1970. He added a detail to Iola that I have not encountered anywhere else: that it rained at least once during the three-day event. He remembers people sliding in mud, some naked, and people bathing in the pond on the grounds. His description of the Sunday morning riot involving bikers and attendees is terrific:
On the last day, I remember waking up to the sound of gunfire. Once outta the tent, I saw bikers coming up the hill going into peoples’ tents and taking whatever they wanted. The bikers got real close to us but we didn’t get robbed. Then, just like in a movie where the peasants rise up against the king in his castle, the sky darkened with sticks, stones, beer and wine bottles, anything the hippies could throw, which rained down on the bikers. I saw two bikers on one bike (one guy driving the other sitting backward shooting a pistol toward the crowd of people coming for the stage area), fishtailing in the sandy soil, he dumped the bike and the two ran off. Some of the crowd descended on the bike and tore parts off it.
Attendees largely cleared out after that, but not all:
We were there after most of the people had left. Like Ma would say, it was a “holy mess.” Everything was muddy, a lotta trash, sleeping bags, blankets, clothes, shoes and people. There were some people cleaning up, some looking for things lost, and some were just kinda there.