(featuring some of my personal favorite personalities and some most often asked about)
"Giant" Gene Arnold
Giant Gene with Dr. Shock at the Vet
(photo courtesy of Giant Gene Arnold)
He started out as a Roman and became a Giant. Dick Clark dubbed the teen senstation "Rick Roman" on American Bandstand in 1956. Gene became established as the "Giant" we know him as today when in 1967, Ron Joseph of WIFI-92FM invited him to co-host his rock- 'n-soul radio show, and the two hosted local TV shows together as well. Their musical tastes soon clashed, and Gene took his more progressive taste and created "Giant Gene's Electric Scene", "Gene Arnold's AM Underground", "Giant Step", among other broadcasts, which featured top rock stars in concert and in-studio interviews. (The name "Giant" came from his fans, because he stood just taller than another popular Philly DJ, WFIL's Long John Wade.) Next, Gene created "Gene Arnold's American Scene", a program which aired nationally every weeknight on CBS radio. Gene co -produced many area concerts with legendary superstars like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, and The Byrds, and was also very much involved in the development of the "Philly Sound" (which you can experience by checking out his great website by clicking the link below, and listening to his new "Sounds of Philly" program.), writing and producing hundreds of records. He has appeared in hundreds of TV spots, including commercials, voice-overs, teen-dance and talk shows, and hosting the Philadelphia portions of top national telethons. His feature film appearances include Dino DeLaurentis' Fighting Back, which was filmed in Philly. Gene and his wife Terry, herself a singer and entertainer, grew up near each other in Philly, met during Gene's TV days as Rick Roman, and were married in 1962. She once had a hit song written by Gene, entitled "There'll Never be a Next Time for Me". Today, Gene produces the "Sounds of Philly" program (see the link below), occasionally guest hosts Rich Levin's show PCTtalk (online and on WPEN-AM) and he and Terry perform voiceovers and narrations for her VoiceTalentsUSA.
Click here to see some great Giant Gene celebrity pics! You'll also be able to listen to Gene's new shows, "Sounds of Philly" and "History of Disco"
Richard Herbert Hayes was born in Brooklyn (same as Wee Willie) on Jan. 5, 1930. Beginning in his late teens, Hayes began recording for Mercury records. His first record (of many to follow) , "The Old Master Painter," became the #1 hit on the 1950 Hit Parade. During his stint in the Army, Hayes belonged to "The Talent Patrol," introducing entertainer and emcee Arlene Francis to the troops. Hayes' many TV appearances include The Robert Q. Lewis Show (1956-64), Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (1958-72), Name That Tune (1970-71), The Baby Game, The Big Beat, and The Ed Sullivan Show. He was the original host (1966-67) of the current game show Supermarket Sweep. Many of us Philadelphians best remember Richard for his very warm and congenial talk shows on WWDB-FM and WCAU-AM. In August 1990, the talk show and news staff were let go from WCAU in preparation for the change to WOGL -AM oldies, and that was the last we heard from Richard Hayes on a regular basis. His wife, former child star Peggy Ann Garner, passed away in 1984 of pancreatic cancer.
Traynor Ora Halftown was born in 1917 of the Seneca Tribe on the Reservation in upstate New York. He had one of the longest running television shows in history (I personally believe second only to Meet the Press, which began airing in 1947), and personally touched the lives of many thousands of people through his numerous personal appearances.
Chief Halftown started out wanting to be a singer, and made a living singing in nightclubs before serving this great country in the Army in WWII. In late 1950, he began his show at then-WFIL -TV, channel 6, airing cartoons, and teaching lessons and crafts from his Seneca customs and folklore. His show ran until late 1999. During summer weekends, the Chief appeared at Dutch Wonderland until 2001. He was also widely known as an excellent bowler.
Chief Halftown passed away on July 5, 2003 in Absecon, New Jersey, at the age of 86. He and his wife, Margaret, were married for over 50 years.
"Many, many years ago, I went to see Chief Halftown at Gimbel's on 69th St. Then, in 1999, I took my seven-year-old grandson to see him at Dutch Wonderland. I wasn't at all surprised to see that he captivated his young audience with the same warmth and charm that I always remembered. He was a great man and a great teacher, and he can never be replaced. " -Paul Kennedy
Speaking of "Philly Memories," author Julius Thompson will soon be bringing many of his own to life in his latest novel, Philly Style and Philly Profile, based on his own experiences as a young man in Philly in the '70's. Philly Style and Philly Profile is the follow-up to A Brownstone in Brooklyn, and is the second part of a trilogy. Part three, The Sound of Midnight, is also currently in the works.
click here to read excerpts and reviews of Julius Thompson's writings and to learn more about the author himself