Monday, December 1, 2014

3 Suns and 4 Aces at O'Neil Sheffield Shopping Center– November 1954

Like me, you might still be enjoying some tasty Thanksgiving leftovers. So along those lines, I guess I'll start off my month of December blogs with some "leftovers" from November that I didn't quite get posted.

First up this week are some full page ads from November 1954 for O'Neil Sheffield Shopping Center that promote well-known musical guests and local celebrities appearing there on consecutive weekends as part of a Grand Opening celebration.

The musical time period of these ads is interesting. It's not quite the Rock and Roll era yet (but pretty close), so the acts are fairly wholesome and tame.

The first ad (below) ran in the Lorain Journal on November 4, 1954 and highlights the appearance of RCA Victor Recording Stars the Three Suns. Also scheduled to appear were local radio personality Johnny Andrews of WTAM radio, and Cleveland TV personality Uncle Joe Bova of station WNBK.

On the same day the ad appeared, The Journal included an article (with the photo at left) about the Three Suns, which told a little about their history. It stated, "Al and Morty Nevins, and their cousin Artie Dunn, originally formed their unique combination for an engagement in the Circus Room of the Hotel Piccadilly in New York City. Al Nevins, the guitar player with the group was formerly a symphonic musician, and his brother Morty studied piano seriously before taking up the accordion for his work with the group. Artie Dunn plays a Hammond Organ specially made for him, to provide the unusual effects for which the group is famous.
The article noted, "The Three Suns first gained national attention for the radio broadcasts which they made from the Hotel Piccadilly. They made a recording of their famous theme, "Twilight Time" – (one of their own compositions) – for Majestic records, and it became such a hit that it led to their present association with RCA Victor. Since they became Victor recording artists, they have made more albums than any other artists on the label."
Here's a little sample of what the O'Neil Shopping Center crowd might have seen that day, courtesy of youtube.
A week later on November 11, 1954, an ad appeared for other big name group appearing at the shopping center that would close out the Grand Opening festivities. This time it was the Four Aces. Also appearing that day was Capt. Glenn Rowell, host of a children's show on WNBK (one of the predecessors of Channel 3 in Cleveland).

As the Journal noted in an article that ran in the same edition, "The vocal group that has thrilled American with dozens of top recordings – the Four Aces  – appear in person for the grand finale weekend of the great opening celebrations now in progress at the O'Neil Sheffield Shopping Center."

"The Four Aces, who will appear twice on Friday and twice on Saturday originally started out as an instrumental group, and the story of their success is really a show business Cinderella story. Two of the Aces, Al Alberts and Dave Mahoney, met while in the service. Al was a singer, and before the war had sung with Elliott Lawrence and Jan Savitt.

"His service hitch interrupted his journalistic studies at Temple University. Dave had been studying music at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and was a good man on trumpet and sax. When the two men decided to form an instrumental group, they asked Sod Voccaro to join them as a trumpet player, and Lou Silvestri on drums completed the outfit."

The article went on to say that when they recorded the tune, "Sin," they had decided to use an organ background and just sing. The tune was so successful that it put the Four Aces at the top of many popularity polls, and they abandoned the instruments  – becoming a purely vocal group.

Here's the Four Aces performing their big hit, "Sin."

All in all, it was a pretty impressive promotion put on by the shopping center's owners.


Anonymous said...

Love the videos Dan. You don't often see accordion any more. I was watching a video of Gary Lewis performing "This Diamond Ring" and the accordion had a solo! I always thought it was a Farfisa. For the time decent entertainment.

Anonymous said...

My first mall I remember was Midway. My first shopping center was the Ridgeview Center with the double arch walk up McD's. When my mom wanted something decent, we went to the May Co. at Sheffield Center and got our yellow stamps and always a bag of cherry sour balls at the candy counter on the way out.

I could lament about "what a shame" or how depressing" but time marches on. Stopping at the Cooks on the way home from Sheffield Center was always a must. Better yet, in the summer, Dog and Suds for lunch.

All that remains original from those memories is Dog and Suds. When I went there this spring (partly because of your website), it was the same as it ever was.

I tell my friends about the multiplex theater that was put up in the back parking lot of Sheffield Center...only to be erased from memory not too many years later. I wonder when the rest of the center will go...

Dan Brady said...

Yes, time marches on and every generation has its memories. I think we (the local Baby Boomers) were lucky to grow up in that post-War era of prosperity and growth... just to witness the area in its heyday and experience the wonder of it, and have so many happy memories of that simple time.

Anonymous said...

I love when you post about this shopping center because I can recall going there (always knew it as what I heard it being called,"O'Neils") as a tot and enjoying it, especially at Christmastime.

We knew "Cooks" as "Ontario". My mother mostly parked on the one side off Lake Avenue (is that the road there?) and if I stayed in the car, I would look over to that drive-in theater. I THINK it could be seen from there, or am I thinking of a water tower?

Dan Brady said...

We called it O'Neils long after May Company moved in, just out of habit

You could see the back of the drive in screen from Ontario, as well as the nearby water tower across 254.