From the S&S archives: On the Town: Arthur Godfrey
Stars and Stripes April 19, 1960
MORE NOTES ON ARTHUR GODFREY'S TRIP TO KOREA: Between chopper flights and surprise visits to military night clubs, Arthur made several appearances on AFKN-TV. He gave the weather report last Friday night (explaining that he had been taking showers for years "but I didn't learn how to take a bath till I got to Japan") and showed up Saturday afternoon for a two-hour radio-TV simulcast.
The Saturday shindig drew an estimated 1,000 fans who had come to Vagabond Hill to watch Joe (Stickbuddy) Cooper and Al (the Sound) Evans bury the hatchet at the end of their heated feud over hillbilly and pop music.
Godfrey, sporting an olive drab field jacket, strummed his uke and sang at length for the receptive crowd. In the end, Country Cousin Cooper presented the grinning redhead with a framed certificate that made him a member-in-good-standing of the Piney Woods Rooters Club, of which Cooper is something called "the supreme exalted nabob."
We, too, were admitted to the Piney Woods club after Cooper introduced us to the highly partisan crowd as "the man who started all this." Our heart sang with joy when we were greeted with friendly cries of "Boo!" and "Git that fat man off thuh stage!" Nevertheless, it was a pie-munching social of the first order.
Although actress Shirley MacLaine couldn't be on hand for the big event, she sent a cable and a present to the men in Korea. The cable read: "Two Easter bunnies en route to all the men in Korea. With good care and whatever it is that bunnies do naturally you should have enough for everyone in a little while. Sorry I can't be there. Happy Easter. (Signed) Shirley MacLaine."
Rumor has it, however, that both bunnies turned out to be boys. Tch, tch.
BACK IN JAPAN AFTER HIS WHIRLWIND 36-HOUR TOUR of Korea, Godfrey continued to tape a one-hour radio program every day. Before leaving for Korea he did a hotel room show with Jack Benny, staged a jam session in which Benny fiddled while Arthur uked (?). Both Benny and Godfrey wore yukata for the occasion.
Arthur's last day in Japan (Tuesday) was event in a taping session at the home of clarinetist Tony Scott, who has staked out a little claim in the heart of old Shinjuku. While Fran Scott (Tony's wife) poured gallons of green tea, Arthur and Tony had a ball.
Aided by top-flight kotoist Shinichi Yuize, Tony played two of his own compositions ("The Cranes in Vie Winter Fly Away" and "Cherry Blossoms Falling on Children Playing") for the chortling Godfrey.
Later on, Mitsubu Oyama, a country boy who plays some swinging samisen, and a cute little singer named Hiroko Moriyasu got into the act. Arthur struggled mightily with a difficult Japanese folk song but got the hang of it in time to back Hiroko with his faithful uke.
Unfortunately, the wildest part of the whole session wasn't taped. The Shinjuku Jazz Quartet (consisting of ukeleke, clarinet, koto and samisen, with Hiroko joining in) sat down in another room to wail their way through an unusual version of "St. Louis Blues."
Godfrey left Japan Tuesday night but plans to return in June to film a television special featuring Japanese talent.