In 1955 Fess Parker had a top ten song with Davy Crockett due to a great extent to its exposure on the popular new medium of television. In the late 50's and early 60's, Rick Nelson began to sing songs on his parents' television show, Ozzie and Harriet. The nationwide television exposure helped to sell records across the country by the thousands. Other television producers and record producers saw that the teens (and some who were a little older) appearing on their shows might be able to sell records too, and they were right. Annette Funicello of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club was a big success with Tall Paul in 1959. Johnny Crawford of the television show The Rifleman scored with Cindy's Birthday in 1962. Shelley Fabares played the teenage daughter on the Donna Reed Show and in March of 1962 her song Johnny Angel entered the charts and rose to the number one position, even though she was reluctant to record it in the first place (in the 90's, Shelley came back to play a leading role in the TV show Coach). There were others, among them Tommy Sands with Teen-Age Crush in 1957 (from the TV play in which he starred called The Singing Idol), Edward Byrnes of TV's 77 Sunset Strip and Connie Stevens of Hawaiian Eye with Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb) in 1959, and Miss Stevens again with Sixteen Reasons the following year. Some of these singing television performers would most likely admit that they had limited ability as singers. The notable exception was Ricky Nelson, who became a megastar in his singing career and made it all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, based mostly on his tremendous ability but helped also by his show business connections.
At the same time that Shelley Fabares' Johnny Angel entered the charts, so did another song by another member of the cast of the Donna Reed Show. That was She Can't Find Her Keys, which had been recorded by Paul Petersen. Petersen played Fabares' brother, Jeff Stone, on the show. Both Fabares and Petersen had been signed by the Colpix label, and both performed their songs on the television show, which of course helped record sales considerably. She Can't Find Her Keys was a success and landed solidly in Billboard's top twenty.
Paul Petersen had been born in Glendale, California in 1945. Like Annette Funicello, he had been a member of Disney's Mousketeers. In December of 1962 Petersen's second and last top forty record, My Dad, was a huge success following Petersen's performance of it on the Donna Reed Show. On the show he sang the song to the actor who portrayed his father, Carl Betz. The song had been written by the prolific Brill Building songwriting duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who had also turned out such songs as Blame It On The Bossa Nova, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Kicks, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, and many others. Early in 1963, My Dad went into the top ten.
Paul Petersen stayed with the Donna Reed Show from 1958 through 1966. He wrote paperback novels in the 70's and owned a limousine service for a time in the Los Angeles area. My Dad stayed on the charts for ten weeks, peaking at number 6.
He isn't much in the eyes of the world
He'll never make history
No, he isn't much in the eyes of the world
But he is the world to me
My dad, now here is a man
To me he is everything strong
No, he can't do wrong, my dad
My dad, now he understands
When I bring him troubles to share
Oh, he's always there, my dad
When I was small I felt ten feet tall
When I walked by his side
And everyone would say "That's his son"
And my heart would burst with pride
My dad, oh I love him so
And I only hope that some day
My own son will say
"My dad -- now here is a man"
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