Video Vault: A Gene Carroll tribute

Honoring the passing of Gene Carroll in 1972

CLEVELAND - "If you're satisfied, I'll be at your side, Sunday, Monday or always."

Blanche Albritton, the long time wizard of the piano on the Gene Carroll Show, played the melody to "Sunday, Monday or Always." The song was associated with the show and seemed to sum up the warm, homey feeling of the man and the show.

When Gene Carroll passed away in March 1972, a pre-Morning Exchange Fred Griffith hosted a tribute segment. It was important, Fred noted, the show go on and there be no blues parade. Therefore, the Gene Carroll tribute was just the first 10 minutes of the regularly scheduled show.

Three people very closely associated with the show, Ben Rand, Andrea Carroll and Blanche Albritton paid homage to Gene.

Ben Rand explained that his association with Gene predated the television years. Gene Carroll had very successful radio career before venturing into TV in the medium's infancy.

Ben Rand sang a song Gene and his wife Helen Carroll loved, "How Deep Is The Ocean?"

Andrea Carroll was the last of the regulars on the tribute. She began her years of appearances on the Gene Carroll show at age two and a half sitting on the piano while Gene played.

She sang, "You're The Greatest" for the tribute.

Finally Cleveland's own Singing Angels close the tribute singing, "Put On A Happy Face."

The Gene Carroll Show touched so many Clevelanders. It continues to touch Clevelanders today as I found out after posting the show’s 25th anniversary special to our website in April.

Candy Lee Korn contacted me. She performed on the early Carroll shows here at WEWS as Candy Lee. In an email she wanted to point out the early shows were under Carroll’s "Uncle Jake" show.

In her email she said, “The Gene Carroll Sunday Show did not begin in 1948 - Uncle Jake's House began in February 1948 and aired at 5 p.m. five days a week.”

She added, “I was on with Gene for two years until the show ended in 1950. I know that the 1949 official November WEWS Schedule for Sunday listed a test pattern and tone at 2 p.m. and programming began at 3 p.m. The Sunday Show probably began in 1950/early 1951.This program was celebrating 25 years of Gene Carroll on Channel 5.”

“The Sunday Show was a great program. The video brought back lots of wonderful memories,” she added.

Frank Artino contacted me as well. Frank was on the show from 1967 to 1982. He was often the featured tenor on the second half of the program. He is recognized even now.

In a Facebook message Frank said, “It is remarkable Tom, that still today, after all these years, that someone, still somewhere comes up to me asking if I am Frankie Artino from the Gene Carroll Show. This happens about every few weeks. So the man and the show still continue to be a legend without a doubt and I am so proud to be a small part of it. As you know, I still perform out around town and still enjoy it.”

Bobby Freeman contacted me with an amazing story of how the Gene Carroll show set him on his way.

"I was only 13-years-old and not a very good organ player. But I went to so many Friday Evening Auditions that I wore Benny Rand down and he gave in. I was a novelty as not many young people take up playing the organ. I ended up on the show 13 times and made it to the quarter finals in 1970. I still have my Certificate signed by Gene Carroll," he said.

He's currently with the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball Club and was an original hire in 1998. He's the organist at all home games and works with the Community Affairs, Corporate Partnerships and Group Sales Departments.

His music has encouraged the Diamondbacks in their World Series appearance. He concluded his message, "Not bad for a geeky kid from Cleveland."

And somewhere Gene Carroll is smiling at all the lives he touched and the talented people he started on their way.

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