Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Janet Waldo Discusses Uncle Duke

As most of you know, it was Uncle Duke who used his unique talents to provide the hip singing voice when Barney Rubble broke out into "rock" songs. The contrast between the singing voice Duke provided and the normal voice of Mel Blanc was the subject of a ten minute segment on Nerd Grant's public access show. I am not sure which city it is, or when it aired, and am trying to track it down, but I am told Nerd had clips of Uncle Duke from "Brooklyn Gorilla" and showed Garage Band illustrated "vocal finger prints" comparing it to the "Flintstones" clips he played. I'd love to have a copy of this. I am so shocked it is not yet on YouTube.

Janet Waldo, who played one of the female characters on the show, Betty Rubble, I believe, granted me a phone interview. This was before her death, and she was very much lively, and sounded exactly like the kooky character you know and love from the show. She could not stay on the phone long, but she said this: "Your Uncle Duke was a genius. It is not an easy thing to sing like a prehistoric Elvis. Always remember that and take it with you." She was a lovely woman and believe me, she will be missed.

Uncle Duke worked quite a bit in the Palm Springs area, and the older folks enjoyed the old style of music quite a bit. Just before he passed away, he achieved a great dream, starring in "A Tribute to Jimmy Durante," doing a fantastic impression of Schnozzola, while Mike Connors supplied the gripping narrative that traced the beloved entertainer's life. Uncle Duke's son Jeff produced the soundtrack album, which, another crushing defeat, never got beyond promotional copies, which today are not only collectors items, but good investments. Many who grew up loving "Brooklyn Gorilla," and are now in their 50's or 60's (in terms of actual age) are still young at heart, and wanting to relive their childhood, which means buying up memorabilia at any cost, so when you see a Duke Mitchell single or album, or movie stills...just imagine what a member of Antique Roadshow would say: "It would be a privilege to own this. Do you have any idea how valuable it is?"

5 comments:

egorschamber said...

I'm very proud and honored to own a copy of Duke Mitchell's tribute to Jimmy Durante -- and an autographed one at that! I'm almost ashamed to mention how little I paid for it (the price tag from Half-Price Books is still on the cover) but it's a priceless treasure to me. I also had the pleasure of meeting Duke's old pal Sammy Petrillo many years ago, and I have various other cherished items related to their film with Bela Lugosi. Here's an image of the front and back of the LP:

http://myweb.wvnet.edu/e-gor/CHFB/DukeMitchell.jpg

Jason Smith said...

my father (jerry smith) was one of the producers on this

JM said...

I never did ANY sound track for the Durante show... i was there with my mom (your "Uncle Duke's WIFE!) but NO album!!

JM said...

WHO ARE YOU?? and why are you saying your a part of MY family and talking about my father before running your false comments about him to Us!!!! TALK FRAUD!

Georgi Mihailov said...

1. Duke Mitchell didn't provide Barney's singing voice, HE PROVIDED FRED FLINTSTONE's singing voice.
2. Barney didn't ''break into rock music'' in any episode.
3. Janet Waldo didn't play Betty, it was Bea Benaderet and later Gerry Johnson.
4. Janet Waldo is still alive, she was at a Convention in 2013.
5. You obviosly have never watched ''The Flintstones'' and are a bunch of idiots who write nonsense and premature obituaries.