On January 31, 2019, BearManor Media published the Revised Edition of Andrew Lee Fielding's The Lucky Strike Papers: Journeys Through My Mother's Television Past. The book, a portrait of television in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was first published by BearManor Media at the end of 2007.
Andrew Fielding's late mother, Sue Bennett, was a featured singer on various network TV shows during the period of early TV—including Kay Kyser's College of Musical Knowledge and Your Hit Parade (also known as the Lucky Strike Hit Parade). She was also featured regularly on such programs as The Freddy Martin Show, and John Conte's Little Show. In 1951, a critic in Down Beat magazine wrote that Bennett was "one of the coming female singers in the country."
Decades later, Andrew Fielding began exploring the period of early television, via the programs on which his mother sang. His book includes conversations with such singers as Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, Eileen Wilson, Russell Arms, and Merv Griffin; bandleaders Raymond Scott, Kay Kyser, and Milton DeLugg; comedian and early TV host Morey Amsterdam; host and singer John Conte; musician and comedian Merwyn Bogue (also known as Ish Kabibble); and Fred Rogers (later known as Mister Rogers), who worked for a time as a floor manager on Your Hit Parade. Fielding also spoke with producers, directors, writers, dancers, musicians, and other singers and personalities from the era.
Reviewers praised the original edition of the book.
The Lucky Strike Papers, said Radiogram magazine, in 2009, is "a fascinating look at the early years of live television..."
A 2010 review on the website "Television Obscurities" said that The Lucky Strike Papers "was one of the best works on early television I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Fielding has done a remarkable job capturing a time period when television was new, broadcasts were live and those working in the medium were learning on their feet."
Wrote novelist and non-fiction writer Jacqueline T. Lynch, on her blog "New England Travels," in 2013: "It’s a splendid book, sensitively written, that chronicles the phenomenon of live TV, and the musical variety type programs which are no longer with us....Mr. Fielding manages to write a very personal memoir about a story that was not his own, and that is something wondrous."
In a 2008 review on his blog "Master of My Public Domain," Michael Coston wrote: “For anyone curious at all about the early days of live television, and the transition from radio to TV as being the dominant form of home entertainment, this book is a delight..."
In 2014, Mitchell Hadley wrote this, on his blog "It's About TV": "...Fielding has a distinctive approach, using a narrative voice that's almost quasi-documentary in tone. It's very effective, giving the reader the sense of flipping through the pages of a scrapbook and reading the captions written on the backs of pictures. In doing so, he generates a warmth not only for the age, but for the people participating in it. He makes it come alive, which is one of my tests as to how good a book is.”
The Lucky Strike Papers "is a rich history of the early days of TV....Early TV was a fascinating world, and reading about it is the next best thing to having been there." --Review on the "Geezer Music Club" blog, 2008.
For the 2019 revised edition of The Lucky Strike Papers, Mr. Fielding undertook additional research, and sees the revised version as being, in essence, "a more definitive portrait" of the programs and personalities he wrote about in 2007. Fielding made various other changes to the text, and says, simply: "I think the new edition is a better book."
About Andrew Lee Fielding:
Andrew Fielding's writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Providence Journal, The Philadelphia Daily News, Horizon magazine, and other publications. He has also worked as a radio talk show host—in Philadelphia, in suburban Philadelphia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in northern New Jersey. The website for The Lucky Strike Papers is: www.andrewleefielding.com