Pat Boone

August 10, 1957 – Get Your Bucks Ready for Saturday Night

White Bucks Boone

Pat Boone sings the praises of white bucks

On August 10, 1957, teens and twenty-somethings across America got their bucks ready for Saturday night – their white bucks, that is.  A favorite footwear of both guys and gals, white bucks required serious maintenance to keep them looking just right.  Clean-cut singing heart-throb Pat Boone was known for his signature white bucks, often worn with twill slacks, an open-necked shirt, and sleeveless sweater vest.  Guys could vary the “uniform” with a letterman’s sweater or maybe the addition of a narrow tie.  Girls wore white bucks, too, with the ever-popular circle skirts, angora sweaters, and pearls or neck scarves.

How to clean your bucks after a week of wear and tear?  The first step was to remove dry stains with a suede or pencil eraser.  Next, use a sponge or dampened towel to clean the suede uppers.  Grease stains (Hair? Car? Remember Grease: The Musical?) could be removed with sawdust and dry cleaning solvent.  Stubborn stains might finally respond to scrubbing with a white vinegar-sprinkled towel.  The final touch?  Neaten up your bucks with a thorough brushing using a special suede brush.

Now you’re ready to cruise down to the drive-in.  Unless, of course, you’re a different sort of guy (or gal).  Then you’d want to make sure your bucks were as scuffed and dirty as possible.

Image Credits: Pat Boone/CBS News 

July 24, 1957 – Where are You, Bernardine?

Bernardine_FilmPosterOn July 24, 1957, Fox Twentieth-Century Fox premiered Bernardine, starring one of America’s most popular teen heart-throbs. Concerts and albums already had this twenty-two-year-old in the millionaire club. You’d be forgiven for assuming we’re talking about Elvis – but his star turn premiere had already opened on July 10th to adoring crowds (see Loving You).

No, this “clean-cut,” married man with three daughters wore white bucks, not blue suede shoes. Fox wanted a wholesome alternative to Presley, and after Robert Wagner bowed out, Pat Boone was given a chance. Top talent joined him both in front of and behind the camera. They included:

  • Dick Sargent (future husband of Samantha in Bewitched)
  • Janet Gaynor (playing Dick’s mother, Mrs. Ruth Wilson)
  • Ronnie Burns (son of George Burns and Grace Allen)
  • Natalie Schafer (the delightful future Mrs. Thurston Howell, III)

Based on a play by Mary Chase, the titular Bernardine is a fantasy girl – Bernardine Mudd of Sneaky Falls, Idaho – dreamed up by three teenage boys (Boone, Sargent, and Hooper Dunbar). Basically good kids, they take time out from school, racing cars and boats, and just plain hanging out, to pester telephone operators to connect them with Bernadine Mudd (of Sneaky Falls, etc.). One of those operators sounds so nice that Sanford Wilson (Sargent) asks her out on a date and falls for the girl not from Sneaky Falls. But then his grades fall . . . .

Fox and producer Buddy Adler weren’t sure how Pat Boone would perform in this, his first film. They needn’t have worried. Bernardine was a big hit, ending up one of the top twenty box-office draws for 1957. Three of the Johnny Mercer-penned songs recorded by Boone for the soundtrack were also hits. These included the biggest hit of his career, Love Letters in the Sand, which went gold with four to five million records sold.

To the critics, Bernardine was likeable, lightweight fluff. But the New York Times reviewer – don’t ask him to pick a winner – wrote, “Move over Elvis Presley. And welcome, Pat Boone, his exact antithesis . . . with a real screen future.”

Image Credit: Twentieth-Century Fox

June 16, 1957 – American Broadcasting Airs “The Amateur Hour”

On June 16, 1957, Americans watching Sunday night television tuned in to ABC at 9:00 PM for “The Amateur Hour“, hosted by Ted Mack.  “The Amateur Hour” originated as a radio broadcast in 1934 and moved to television in 1948.  Each show began by spinning a wheel to determine the performance order of the guest talent. The voiceover phrase, “Round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows,” was part of the ritual.  Singers, musicians, jugglers, tap dancers, baton twirlers, and other acts would perform and the audience would vote by postcard or telephone for their favorites.  Winners appeared again on the next show and three-time winners were eligible for the annual championship, with scholarship money at stake.

A few contestants became quite famous: Frank Sinatra appeared with The Hoboken Four during the radio era; Pat Boone and Gladys Knight were discovered (although controversy surrounded Pat’s amateur status); and Ann-Margret (1958) and Irene Cara (1967) launched their careers from “The Amateur Hour.”

The show was remarkably long-lived.  Its last broadcast, episode number 1651, took place in September of 1970.

Image Credit: Kultur Video