Saturday, December 20, 2014

Have You Heard the One About Cher and William Conrad Singing Christmas Carols?

As I've repeatedly pointed out, last night's final pre-Christmas Late Show with David Letterman marked the end of two longstanding holiday traditions. Darlene Love has been on-hand to sing her 1963 classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" for the past 28 years, while Jay Thomas has appeared nearly every year since 1998 to play the Quarterback Challenge and regale us with his famous "Lone Ranger Story," which Dave calls "the greatest talk show story ever told." With Letterman scheduled to retire next May, those traditions effectively ended with last night's show. But last night was also the swan song for another, less well-known tradition — Paul Shaffer's "Sonny and Cher (and Cannon)" Christmas story. Here's Paul on last night's Late Show describing what he remembers about the 1973 holiday episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour:

Well, now, this story intrigued me — first, because I'm a fan of bad 1970s television, and, second, because I like Cannon, the famous Quinn Martin detective show starring William Conrad.* (I know, I know. I'm being redundant.) If Conrad was on TV singing Christmas carols in the '70s, I want to see it. So, I went straight to YouTube where I quickly found the clip Shaffer described from a 41-year-old episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour:

All in all, I'd say that Shaffer's description was pretty much spot on. (Conrad saunters at about 1:10 to sing "The First Noel," and Cher, her hands in the famous muff, begins singing "Oh Holy Night" at around 2:50.) I'd never heard Shaffer's rendition before, and even if his telling of it is a genuine holiday tradition, it doesn't hold a candle to Thomas's and Love's longstanding regular appearances. In case you missed them, here are Jay Thomas and Darlene Love on last night's Late Show with David Letterman: 

How did Thomas feel about ending his traditional pre-Christmas appearances?  "I am so friggin' glad this is over," he deadpanned. Not me.

*Brave adult readers who are interested in a different perspective on William Conrad than what we saw on Cannon can listen to his X-rated rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" HERE.

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