POST AND WAVE
January 18, 1952
Bell Sisters Prepare for TV Shows; "Bermuda" Top Tune in So. Calif.
Wardrobe planning is spotlighting the Strother household, 232 Fifth Street these days, as Cynthia and Kay prepare for their scheduled television and radio appearances.
Mr. and Mrs. Strother took the two girls into Hollywood Monday for fittings. Their wardrobes have created somewhat of a problem, due to the difference in the girls' age and size, but they have reached a satisfactory solution by deciding on simple, interchangeable costumes, cut on similar lines, according to Mrs. Strother.
Their next scheduled appearance will be on the Frank Sinatra Television Show from 5 to 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 22.
Two scheduled appearances are slated for some time in February. The girls will appearance on the Alan Young TV show and again on the big show which stars Tallulah Bankhead. Definite dates for these two appearances have not as yet been announced.
Peter Potter, who was instrumental in giving the girls their "big break" on his "Search for a Song" program, announced this week that 78,000 records of their song "Bermuda" have been sold in Southern California, with sheet music selling so fast that music stores find it hard to keep a supply on hand. "Tops in Pops" gave the song seventh place on its choice of Songs of the Week.
Cynthia and Kay will be known professionally as the Bell Sisters, having taken their mother's maiden name, which their parents and agent felt, would be much easier to pronounce and remember.
* * * * *
The Hollywood Beat
Hollywood -- How many thousands of people are there around this town-or any town-who have been trying for years without success to hear themselves sing on a major record label, or any label? How many have been trying for years without a nibble to see one of their songs published and hear it sing on a major record label-or any label?
We don't know either; we only know it's news when a couple of kids, one 16 and one 11, have both of those things happen to them simultaneously, so step up and meet the Bell Sisters, whom you very likely will have heard by now on Victor's Bermuda and June Night, backed by a studio ork under RCA-Victor's Hollywood headman, conductor-arranger Henri Rene.
It can be noted on the label of Bermuda that the songwriter credit goes to Cynthia Strother. Strother is the real name of the Bell Sisters; Cynthia is the 16-year-old member of the duo.
Anyone who has sat through one of these amateur songwriter shows on TV or radio and wondered whether anything ever happened to the aspiring amateurs will be interested to know that what happened to the Strother kids happened on Peter Potter's KNXT show, Search for a Song.
Cynthia, who plays piano by ear, says she put together Bermuda, with some help from mother, "just for fun." She and her sisters, Kay, 11, and Sharon, 14, entertain themselves by performing as a trio. Someone suggested they submit the song to Potter for presentation on his show.
But the night they were to appear, Sharon was too busy with other matters ("All she can think of is boyfriends," volunteers 11-year-old Kay), so the Strother Sisters, soon to become the Bell Sisters, went on the show as a duo instead of a trio.
Then things happened fast. The representative of a publishing company, who was one of the judges that night, spotted Bermuda immediately as a potential hit. He also spotted the Strother Sisters as a couple of unusually personable youngsters with something very marketable in the way of vocal styling.
He took them to Victor, and Rene put them and their song on wax as fast he could turn out an arrangement and assemble a band.
Rene, whose instrumental backing undoubtedly contributed greatly to the early success of the Bell Sisters first record says, "I tried not to influence their natural style in any way. I told them to sing just the way they sing for fun around the house. If they go over as big as we think they will, it will be due to the freshness and simplicity of their manner."
And all we have to say is that if the Bell Sisters first record sells a million copies and these kids turn out to be the new music stars of 1952, it's okay with us.
* * * * *
The composer of this mournful ditty never saw Bermuda - nor was ever influenced by the equivalent of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce. She is 16-year-old Cynthia Strother, now of Seal Beach, Calif., but born in Kentucky. The nearest Cynthia ever came to the coral islands of Bermuda was a look at some travel folders her mother sent away for - after her song "Bermuda" was already written and published.
Cynthia explained her magnum opus - currently a top favorite with the disk jockeys all over the country and climbing on the popularity polls - in this way: "It happened after school a year and a half ago," she said. "I was playing the piano. I like Spanish music best and was beating out Spanish tempo on the piano. I just got the idea and went through with it, until it was finished. Then we all got together to write the words. We got Indian ideas and a Spanish bullfighter idea. Then somebody said 'Bermuda' and we liked that."
A pert, poised blonde, Cynthia is better known to the public as one half of the Bell Sisters, whose RCA Victor record of "Bermuda" is a best-seller. The other half of the team is her sister Kay, aged 11, who sang the song with Cynthia last fall on a Los Angeles (KNXT) television show called Peter Potter's Search for a Song (CBS). Represented on the professional panel judging the efforts of the amateur song writers was the Goday Music Corp., which agreed to publish the tune. Out of their audition record came the RCA Victor recording. The name Bell Sisters came from the girls' mother's maiden name - Edith Bell.
There are seven Strother children; Cynthia is the eldest. "We all want to go to college," says Cynthia, and the money from "Bermuda" will help finance that ambition. Her immediate aim, however, "is a Cadillac for myself, to finish high school with. I'd like to get one - colored metallic purple."
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THE COURIER-JOURNAL MAGAZINE
THE COURIER-JOURNAL MAGAZINE
RHYTHM vs. 'RITHMETIC
Down in Bermuda, paradise for two, I lost my lover -- there on the blue . . . Unquote.
Those haunting and melancholy lyrics, accompanied by an equally haunting melody, were written by a 16-year-old California high-school girl who calls Kentucky home. Cynthia Strother and her 11-year-old sister Kay are rapidly rising to fame as the newest recording artists for R.C.A.-Victor, since the recent release of "Bermuda."
They are known professionally as the Bell Sisters; they took their mother's maiden name.
Cynthia was born in Harlan, Ky., and Kay in Cynthiana. Their parents are native Kentuckians.
Their mother, the former Edith Marie Bell, was born in Paducah, but later moved to Ashland. She attended school there and later went to the University of Kentucky. The maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Oran Bell, still reside in Ashland.
Gene Strother, father of the talented youngsters, is the son of Mrs. R.W. Strother of Carlisle, but he, too, moved to Ashland while still in school. He was on the first-string team of the famous Ashland Tomcats, basketballers who won the national championship at Chicago in 1928. His brother, C.E. Strother, lives in Ashland.
Though neither Cynthia nor Kay has ever had any formal musical education, they come by their talent naturally enough. During her days at the University of Kentucky, Mrs. Strother was a member of a singing trio and a violinist.
In addition to Cynthia and Kay, there are four other girls and one boy in the Strother family: Sharon, 14; Judy, 9; Paula, 8; Rex, 7, and Alice, 5.
Dad Strother (who admits to answering when addressed as Mr. Bell) comes from a large family who were all musically inclined. He attended Ohio State University, and later played pro baseball for seven years on the minor-league farm teams of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. He now is with North American Aviation at Downey, Cal.
The Strothers live in their own home at Seal Beach. Cynthia is in the junior class at Huntington High School and Kay goes to the Seal Beach Elementary School.
The overnight success of the girls is almost phenomenal.
Cynthia had been banging on a piano for as long as the family can remember, though it was all done on friends' pianos. Three years ago, a neighbor gave her one of her own and she started picking out original tunes.
"Bermuda" got her on Peter Potter's television show, "Search for A Song," and won for her the first prize four consecutive times.
On the last occasion, Kay joined her sister in presenting their version of "Bermuda." On the judges' panel that night was music publisher Artie Valando of the Goday Music Corporation, who immediately bought the song and had a dub record made of the girls' rendition. He got them an audience with Henri Rene, orchestra leader and R.C.A.-Victor's West Coast director, who signed them for the record. Rene backs them orchestrally in both Cynthia's tune and the flip side, "June Night."
Much of the rapid success of "Bermuda" resulted from the efforts of Peter Potter. He used his influence with disc jockeys throughout the country to plug the record at every opportunity, although he receives no revenue from any of the songs he airs.
Rene allows the girls to work out their own arrangements with no professional assistance. He then sometimes suggests changes, and the style is copied on a "lead sheet" for orchestration. When both orchestra and the girls have mastered the arrangement decided on, they get down to the real business of making the record. This is a long, tedious operation: to record "Bermuda" took over three hours, "June Night" one hour.
In Variety magazine's list of top recorded tunes for the week ending February 16, "Bermuda," released in mid-December, was in sixth place nationally.
It was No. 1 in sales in Los Angeles for several weeks but now has dropped out of the first-10 list there. However, in Variety's regional rankings, Washington, D.C., puts it in No. 1 spot and Cincinnati and Cleveland list it in second place.
Dave Capp, head of R.C.A.'s New York office, personally went to the West Coast to supervise the handling of the Bell Sisters' newest disc, "Poor Whip-Poor-Will" and "Wheel of Fortune." Again, Rene and his orchestra accompanied.
Cynthia, who has a library of 12 other unpublished compositions, is a swimming champion, was one of the princesses on the Seal Beach float in the Rose Bowl parade at Pasadena, and does clever pen-and-ink sketches in her spare time.
Mrs. Strother promptly dismisses any suggestion that the morbid theme of the music and lyrics fo "Bermuda" was the result of a sad romance in the life of her young daughter. To any such inquiries her reply is, "It was just a phase Cynthia was going through -- and a vivid imagination."
On January 22, the Bell Sisters made their formal debut on television as guest performers on the Frank Sinatra show. They were on Dina Shore's program on February 5. Many of their TV invitations had to be declined because of school -- which always comes first. If it is a question of rhythm or 'rithmetic, the 'rithmetic comes out on top!
Through all this fame and fortune, however, the little Strother girls remain unspoiled, though Kay claims that some of her schoolmates "think I am stuck-up." She continues her activities with Girl Scout Troop No. 5 of Seal Beach, of which her mother is troop leader. Cynthia maintains her popularity with her fellow teen-agers at Huntington High, and keeps writing to servicemen in Korea.
While being costumed for a TV performance, Cynthia and Kay discovered a fellow Kentuckian in the person of Mrs. Maza Daugherty Beuchel, head of the Meyers Costume Company and a native of Mount Sterling.
When school is out in the spring, the Strothers, all nine of them, plan to make their annual trip to Kentucky. After visiting relatives from Paducah to Ashland, they will go on to New York for personal appearances and TV commitments.
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LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM
LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM
Two Seal Beach sisters started it all by warbling in the dishwater.
Now radio and television fans everywhere are exclaiming: HOW THOSE BELLS DO SING!
Despite the fact the Bell Sisters' musical talent suddenly has shoved them into the spotlight of the entertainment world, the youthful songbirds haven't lost sight of earlier ambitions.
The girls, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Strother, 232 Fifth, Seal Beach, have ideas of getting some plac ein a hurry -- and music doesn't necessarily figure in their plans.
Sixteen-year-old Cynthia Strother, the older of the pair, wants to be an airplane pilot. She understands that women are to be used as airline freight pilots in the future -- and that's for her.
"I'm definitely interested in flying," says Cynthia, a junior at Huntington Beach High School and composer of "Bermuda," a tune among the tops of the pops in the Variety polls. "But I'm interested in becoming a doctor, too," says the pretty, sophisticated blonde. "Biology is my favorite study in school."
Airplanes are for squares, thinks 11-year-old Kay, Cynthia's partner on the singing team. Kay will take rocket ships anytime.
"I don't know whether I would want to be aboard the first rocket ship," says chubby, fidgety Kay, "but I'd like to be on the next one. I like science."
Kay, however, will settle for less. "I want to be on the Space Patrol program on television. I like this acting business," says the sixth-grader.
But aircraft and space ships will have to wait. The girls' air travel currently is restricted to radio and television. Anyway, there's the business of their first train trip. They'll take it this month when they travel to San Francisco for a recording of a Bing Crosby show which will be broadcast April 2. They also had a guest spot on the Bob Hope show in San Diego this month.
The Bell Sisters (they use their mother's maiden name on the air and on recordings) are really living.
Since they started singing professionally, they have made more than 30 excursions to Hollywood. The radio people put them up in the Ambassador Hotel one evening recently to spare them the long trek back to Seal Beach. It was the first time they ever had been in a hotel.
"Gee, we had more fun," recalls Cynthia, who forgets how to be sophisticated when she gets excited. "We pulled out all the dresser drawers and looked in them."
And since they became the Bell Sisters they visited their first beauty parlor.
"We're going to get our first airplane ride, too," puts in Kay. "It'll be the first time we've ever been out of the country."
"That's right," says Cynthia. "We've been invited to Bermuda, all expenses paid, during the Easter vacation. Guess we'll go if we can find time."
"Bermuda," the tune that started the girls toward stardom, is the work of Cynthia, who can't read a note of music. She and Kay sang it over KNXT, television, last fall on Peter Potter's Search for a Song program. It became a hit.
There almost were three Bell Sisters, incidentally. Another of the seven Strother childrne, 14-year-old Sharon, formerly sang around the house with Cynthia and Kay, but as Cynthia explains it, "Sharon had a date that night, and besides she had the laryngitis." Is Sharon jealous? Not a bit. She's her sisters' biggest fan.
Henri Rene, RCA Victor repertoire director, is responsible for giving the girls their start. "They sound like two Frankie Laines," he told his superiors.
Variety Magazine says the Bell Sisters "sing in a much more matured fashion than expected of their age." Billboard Magazine writes that "their clipped phrasing and drive could stir up lots of action." Billboard adds that "Bermuda" is "an exciting and striking performance of an unusual Jezebel-ish piece of material."
The Strother girls, says their mother, got their start singing by warbling to pass away the time while doing the dishes.
"We didn't develop our singing style until 'Bermuda,'" Cynthia explains. "It went over so well we've tried to keep it."
Current recordings also include "Hambone," done with Phil Harris; "Wheel of Fortune," "Poor Whip Poor Will" and "June Night."
Cynthia has composed several other songs besides "Bermuda," and these now are in the hands of Rene for study. Surprisingly, Cynthia prefers classical music. When she composes, she pecks out her ideas on a piano (by ear) and then memorizes the tune. Recently she acquired a tape recorder to save wear and tear on the memory.
Meanwhile the fan mail continues to pour in. Both Dad and Mother help answer it since Cynthia is busy with school activities (she recently swam in a Huntington Beach water show) and Kay has her Girl Scout troop to keep her occupied.
The girls plan an eastern tour this summer, and more recordings are on the agenda. They want to continue singing but college also constitutes a big part of their plans.
"I'd like to go to Berkeley, but I hear Stanford is good, too," says Cynthia.
"I think college would be awful hard," says Kay, thinking out loud.
Success hasn't changed the routine greatly in the Strother household other than that a baby-sitter is required more often because of the frequent Hollywood trips. In addition to Cynthia, Kay and Sharon there are Judy, 9; Paula, 8; Rex, 7, and Alice, 5.
Father Strother, an electrician for North American Aviation in Downey, is extremely proud of his daughters, of course, but still finds time to scan the baseball standings in the papers. He was a professional ballplayer for seven years.
Thrilled most by it all is the mother, who enjoys company and loves her neighbors, all of whom are immensely interested in the success of the Bell Sisters.
"Everyone comes over at the oddest hours to get caught up on the news," disclosed Mrs. Strother with a twinkle in her eye. And then she threaded her way through a roomful of happy, chattering youngsters to answer the doorbell.
* * * * *
Singing and playing the piano, the "Bell Sisters," as they are known professionally, have begun a musical career by composing and recording their own songs.
The sisters, Cynthia, 16, and Kay Strother, 11, of Seal Beach, Cal., have invaded Tin Pan Alley.
Cynthia, who usually contributes the melody, has been playing the piano for years. Three years ago she began picking out original tunes on the keyboard. Soon she had written a number of songs and, with Kay's help, figured out the vocal arrangements.
One of the songs, "Bermuda," was auditioned by a Los Angeles disk jockey. He liked it and consequently put Kay and Cynthia--and the song--on the air. A music publisher heard the girls sing "Bermuda," and was impressed both with the song and the singing.
He arranged an audition for the girls with Henri Rene, who had the piece recorded. More than 200,000 records have been sold, and the sale still is going strong.
The Bell Sisters--they took their mother's maiden name--are successful singers too. They are the youngest performers on the roster of one of the major record companies. When the girls put their towheads together and begn harmonizing, they produce what some consider the most unusual musical sounds on records.
In writing the songs, Cynthia sings the melody to the entire family. There are four sisters other than Cynthia and Kay, and one brother. The mother and father and the children suggest ideas for the tune and words for the lyrics.
This family co-operation in writing the songs has paid off. In addition to receiving a sizable sum of money for their first record, the girls have launched a song-writing career which is expected to take them to the very top.
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EAST SAN DIEGO, CALIF. PRESS
EAST SAN DIEGO, CALIF. PRESS
Hilo Hattie, Bell Sisters, Spade Cooley to Appear in S.D. County Fair Shows
A star-studded array of free entertainment for the 10 days and nights of the San Diego County Fair, to be staged at Del Mar from June 27 through July 6, was announced this week by Manager Paul T. Mannen.
Continuing the Fair's highly successful policy of free outdoor stage shows, Mannen has booked a diversified complement of big time names, headed by the Bell Sisters, the nation's newest and youngest juke box raves.
Opening attraction for the afternoon and evening presentations on the big, portable stage in front of the grandstand will be Ina Ray Hutton and her famed all-girl TV cast. Hilo Hattie, the inimitable Hawaiian comedienne of song, and her troupe will take over the following day, June 28.
Spade Cooley, the "King of Western Swing," who won the applause of Fair visitors last summer in two engagements, will return for appearances the first Sunday afternoon and evening with his complete TV cast and orchestra.
A change of pace is planned for the next three days--Monday, June 30, through Wednesday, July 2--when an all-star rodeo, featuring many of the big names in the art of riding bucking horses, Brahma bulls and roping steers, will be presented in a special rodeo arena.
"Fiestacade of 1952," the Fair's big musical revue, will occupy the main stage for the final four days--July 3 through 6. It will headline the Bell Sisters, Cynthia, 16, and Kay, 12, who have climbed to the top of the entertainment world in the past six months.
Since recording Cynthia's composition "Bermuda," which has sold mroe than 800,000 records, the girls, who are from Seal Beach, have scored repeat successes with "Rutza-Rutza" and "Wheel of Fortune." Their showing here will climax their first personal appearance tour, although they are veterans of the Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore TV programs and the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope radio shows.
appearing with the Bells will be Nick Lucas, "The Singing Troubador"; Bob WIlliams and "Einstein," one of the great dog acts in show business; a talented chorus line and other big time acts.
* * * * *
Singing Sisters of Seal Beach
The four-room bungalow at Seal Beach, Calif., where an electrician named Strother lives with his wife and seven children, is bursting with music and girls. All of the Strothers' six daughters play the piano, the marimba or the harmonica or sing. Two of the girls, Cynthia, 16, and Kay, 12, have carried their musical activities away from home and, as the Bell Sisters, have become the hottest new sister team in the record business.
Success began when Cynthia, who composes as well as sings, wrote a song called Bermuda (left) which was recorded last year after she and Kay did it on an amateur TV talent show. They have recorded six more songs, the latest of which is Rutza, Rutza. The girls have recently been guests on shows with Crosby, Sinatra and Hope (p. 56). Next month they will sing at the San Diego County Fair, and then come to New York and Chicago movie theaters where their weekly salary will be around $4,000. Meanwhile they still sing as they cook, wash and iron around the house with their sisters, untouched by fame except that Cynthia would someday like to own "a metallic purple Cadillac."
The Two Harmonize with Hope
A few weeks ago Kay and Cynthia went on a junket to San Francisco with Bob Hope to appear on his TV show at Fort Scott (above) and at a high school auditorium (below). They breezed through their parts completely unawed. Accustomed to singing anywhere - at home, at school, at parties - they have not the slightest idea what stage fright is.
* * * * *
BERMUDA RINGS THE BELL!
A few months ago, the Bell sisters were, actually, sixteen-year-old Cynthia and twelve-year-old Kay of Huntington Beach, California, a couple of the Strother girls so far as the neighborhood knew. They were known to have four sisters, a brother and a cocker spaniel named Puddy, and their house was much like any other in the block. There was one big difference, though. That was the way the Strothers entertained themselves. Pop Strother is an electrician in a North American Aircraft plant, and feeding, sheltering, clothing seven youngsters doesn't leave a lot of folding money for amusement-spending. As a result, the Strothers had to make their own entertainment, and that's the way it all started.
Her parents always played the guitar and sang with each other, but Cynthia turned out to be the spark plug of the family. From the time she was three, she banged away on any piano she could find and eventually learned to play by ear. A few years ago a neighbor presented Cynthia with an old piano, and she rapidly began to compose original tunes.
Cynthia played and the family sat around the living room making up lyrics to her tunes. Sister Kay harmonized with Cynthia to demonstrate the finished product to the family circle. Sharon, the fourteen-year-old sister, in between Cynthia and Kay, sings too. And young Paula, age eight, is a great one for mimicry and dancing.
A couple of years ago, a friend of Cynthia's went overseas with the Marines; she wrote Waiting as a result. Next came Bermuda. None of the Strothers have ever been to the coral island, but someone came up with the title after hearing her play what she calls her "Spanish-type" tune on the piano. The family worked out lyrics, deciding which phrases to use by a majority vote. The song itself was written about a year and a half ago. Nothing was done with it until her father suggested to Cynthia that she try to get a hearing for Bermuda on a Los Angeles CBS-TV show run by a well-known Los Angeles disk jockey, Peter Potter.
His Search for a Song program presents the songs of amateur song-writers for criticism by a board of experts. Cynthia tried three times for an audition; the night she finally made it, Arthur Valando, a song publisher, was on the board of experts. Bermuda intrigued him and he had Cynthia and Kay make a demonstration record, singing their own song.
He took it to a friend, artists' manager Charles Alpert, and together they called on recording companies, radio stations, anyone they could get to listen to it. When they played the text recording for Henri Rene', West Coast Artist and Repertoire Director for RCA Victor, they found someone as enthusiastic as they were.
Rene' decided that not only did he like the song -- but he was enchanted with the youthful exuberance of the girls' vocalizing. He signed them to a contract and had them sing it themselves. Before the record was releaed, it was felt that Strother was too difficult a "professional" name, so the girls adopted their mothers' maiden name, Bell, instead. Copies went out to the disk jockeys and jukeboxes and it soon developed into a smash hit. (This is even more impressive when you realize that of more than a thousand songs auditioned on Peter Potter's show, only thirty-eight have been published, and a mere twelve recorded. And Bermuda is the only hit!)
Of course, the girls are having a fine time. Kay's eyes light with excitement when she tells about the big Girl Scout program where she and Cynthia sang their song. "Imagine, three thousand Girl Scouts were listening to us!"
It has its drawbacks too, amusing ones, mostly. Cynthia, a junior at high school, found for a while that boys were afriad to call for a date! "I think they felt that I was 'different' somehow." And sixth-grade Kay thought that some of her friends decided she was "stuck-up" but now that the novelty has worn off, things are pretty much the same as before.
Successo, of course, has brought nice things, too. The Strothers hope that the royalties, from the sale of the records and sheet-music, will permit them to move into Los Angeles and buy a larger house.
The girls have been excited by appearing on radio and television shows with Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra. They've made several new records, one of Wheel of Fortune backed by Poor Whip-Poor-Will, another Phil Harris called Hambone and, more recently, a novelty, Rutza-Rutza. But school continues as usual.
After Cynthia finishes at Huntington Beach High, she plans to go to the University of California and study aviation engineering; she wants to be a test pilot.
Kay goes to Seal Beach Elementary School. She still gets a little embarrassed when she's asked to sing in public. Her favorite occupation is "making things grow." she loves gardening, and her hope is that one day the Strothers will be able to move to a farm "with plenty of horses." She enjoys singing with Cynthia, but she gets bewildered when people ask her if she wants to grow up to be a "girl singer."
No one of the family hazards what the future will bring fo the girls. Their agent, Alpert, believes that the Bell Sisters will have a permanent career in the music world. Besides the several songs they've recorded, movie contracts are a possibility. The girls intend to take professional lessons -- not for singing, but to acquire stage presence and a few of the tricks of public presentation that every professional has to know.
As time goes on, if the Bell Sisters continue to sing pop songs with the same spontaneous, enthusiastic spirit they've put across on their first records -- and there's no reason why they shouldn't -- they may find that singing and song-writing can be just as much fun as flying an airplane or planting tomatoes.
When you come to think of it, the Seven Dwarfs (of Snow White fame) whistled while they worked; Cynthia and Kay can always look forward to singing while they work, and perhaps, working while they sing!
* * * * *
BELL SISTERS (2)
Taking advantage of skyrocketing record sales of the two Bell Sisters, arrangements were made to follow up with personal appearance tour, with mecca of Vegas as first stop. Youngsters were taught rudiments of stage deportment by Ray Gilbert, who also cleffed some specials for the act. Results of the intensive five weeks' training show up very well, as Kay, aged 12, and Cynthia, 16, handle their stint capably.
Although the lassies tend at times to look and warble like automatons, ease is bound to come with more appearances. Kay skips on attired in pink pedal pushers, and big sis Cynthia looks the part of a perfect sweet 16 in her deb gown. Waste no time chirping a "Hello" ditty, which contains lyrics about who they are and why they are here. Double harmony on "Boo Hoo" and "Wheel of Fortune" displays kids' trademark, mouthing and extra emphasis on rhythmic pronunciation. Kay works up some yocks in a special sketch as big sis acts out part of long suffering elder in the family. Youngest Bell has quite a flair for comedy.
Followup is "Poor Whippoorwill," and "Rutz, Rutza," before intro of song explaining "how we began." This fires up more expert albeit somewhat precocious comedy by Kay, before reprise of their dislick, "Bermuda." Another carbon of a platter, this their most recent for RCA Victor, "Hang Out the Stars," has "Blue Danube Waltz" as melody base. Special "Goodbye" whirls pair off to resounding ovation.
Looks like the Bells will ring in any medium. Will.
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JACK CORTEZ' FABULOUS LAS VEGAS MAGAZINE
JACK CORTEZ' FABULOUS LAS VEGAS MAGAZINE
The Watchbird ... by Lady Michael (Michael Neale) / Column
The BELL SISTERS will join NAT KING COLE at the Downtown Paramount at L.A. on August 1st. These refreshing youngsters are the cutest act we've seen in a long time, and for their short time in the business, they sure are hip! During the show one night CYNTHIA slapped KAY on the back and noticed she kept rubbing it during their entire act. "Did I hurt you when I hit you?" Cynthia asked when they got off the floor. "No," replied Kay with her impish gleam, "I was just milking the audience!"
Last Frontier (first text is cut off, says "Continued from Page 18")
... the opening song of greeting to the closing number of "thanks." The girls sing with a naturalness that is refreshing and infectious to the point of immediate adoration. KAY, the youngest, plays the "little sister" to the hilt for laughs and appeal. Her innocence, to the point of scratching her nose during a love lyric, charms the audience to complete relaxation. CYNTHIA, a lovely young lady, is understanding enough to tolerate Kay's teasing. After all, what can a child know about the problems of an adolescent old enough to notice boys but too young to wear high heels? Their selection of songs, combined with their harmony, humility of presentation, and innocence means but one thing ... "Stardom!"
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CURRENT EVENTS - This Week in Montreal
CURRENT EVENTS - This Week in Montreal
Two 'teen-agers whose songs have impressed audiences three times their age, Kay and Cynthia Bell, come straight from Los Angeles' Paramount to play the Seville this week. At 12 and 16, respectively, they've made an instant hit as a song duo in the U.S. Also presented for your approval are a novelty dance team, Christine and Moll, adagio experts The Three Glens, Comic Roy Beson, and Jean and Stanley Kayne, adept at mimicry. "Her Husband's Affair" and news shots of the Olympic Games provide the screen fare, with Charles Tyrell as singing m.c.
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RENO - This Week
RENO - This Week
Re-Vues & Pre-Vues
MERT WERTHEIMER'S Reverside Casino features the two young ladies who have scored their heaviest hit by their writing and singing of the top tune, "Bermuda." They are the justly famous and popular Bell Sisters, four times guest stars on the Bing Crosby show, whose personal appearances with Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra and a host of others in both radio and television have won for them loud praise from performers and public alike. Cynthia, 16, and Kay, 13, are probably the youngest duo to score the success they have enjoyed. This is their initial appearance in Reno.
Buddy Hackett, one of the top comics of the night clubs, known as "the comedian's comedian," and Paul Sydell and his performing dogs round out a well balanced and entirely different show.
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Bell Sisters, Paramount Theater, Los Angeles
California's Cinderella kids, Cynthia and Kay (16 and 11 respectively) of Huntington Beach, Calif., refreshing and appealing as they are, didn't register as solidly on this, their first theater date, as many expected. The "sound" (and spontaneity) so notably presented on their Bermuda, the disc that brought them to public attention, was not so evident here.
One reason is that it's not so easy to achieve such effects outside the recording studio and without the supervision of RCA-Victor's able West Coast music head, Henri Rene. This is not intended as a reflection on backing supplied by the Dick Pierce band on this date, which was as good as could be expected on a hastily assembled stage presentation.
Aside from the above, and making due allowance for fact that this comment is based on their very first show of the run, the youngsters are just not ready for the big time, particularly on a bill, as they were here with the redoubtable Nat Cole. Nevertheless, they have real talent (and a flair for comedy). With the right coaching and proper handling they might go far.
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The Bells first tolled with a recording success, "Bermuda," and have been doing well because of it ever since. With a packet of numbers which sound somewhat the same and end ditto, the Bell Sisters do well because they are talented youngsters. Anyone who wouldn't applaud enthusiastically for them is either too analytical or hates kids. They are well received, regardless of the reasons, or whether or not anyone realizes exactly why.
George Moro has built a little production opener for the Sisters -- the Starlets in cheerleader type costumes, sweaters and brief skirts, and sunglasses plus little hats. After a cute jitterbug, they intro Cynthia and Kay Bell.
Their first is "Hello," a bright little song, and follow with "Drip Drop," a nice arrangement with a bit of "Boo Hoo" tossed in and appreciatively recognized. "Wheel of Fortune," "Poor Whippoorwill" and "Rutza Rutza" are mixed smartly with their clicks, "Bermuda" and "Hang Out the Stars."
Costuming of the act is a bit perplexing. Cynthia, growing up fast, looks about 19 in ballerina skirt and high heels, with a mature hairdo. Kay has been stuck in pedal pushers, or something like Alice in Wonderland, and has not only been held to her 13 years but pushed back about five. It looks like a frameup against Kay and for an effect that has no value to the act.
"Rutza Rutza" picks up with a little dance by the two. All numbers end with a sustained cresendo buildup, the pair rearing back, arm in arm, heads together, embracing the crowd.
Immediately preceeding them is new comic to the west, Buddy Hackett, a roly-poly, innocent looking guy who gets his chatter over with his pan, which brings laughs without a word. The material, however, is not so innocent. He has had the good taste to tone down his first shows, which because of the Bells are full of kids. He still gets away with quite a bit. It is fast, hwoever, and probably skims the heads of the young set.
[Article continues to describe the acts of Buddy Hackett, Paul Sydell and Riverside Starlets.]
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WESTERN LIVING AND HOME EXPOSITION
WESTERN LIVING AND HOME EXPOSITION
The Bell Sisters
The Bell Sisters of Seal Beach, California are the youngest members of the RCA Victor-artist family to be approaching one million disc sales class.
Cynthia is 16 years old and Kay is a normal 12 years old, who likes dolls and is an active member of the Girl Scouts.
Neither Cynthia or Kay have had any formal musical or vocal training. Their harmonies and stylings are completely original. No one coaches them. They simply work out a song style together.
Cynthia plays the piano and composes music, and writes song lyrics. Her big success was her composition and lyrics for "Bermuda." Henri Rene of RCA Victor heard the song and the Bell Sisters' rendition of it and signed the girls for diskery. Sales of the Bell Sisters' "Bermuda" platter is now passing the 800,000 mark.
Cynthia and Kay have also recorded "Wheel of Fortune," "Hambone" and their new release is "Rutza-Rutza," sung on a recent Bing Crosby show.
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