It’s been said that there’s no place like home for the holidays…and few artists have conjured up that nostalgic warmth as well as Perry Como. For nearly five decades, the beloved Italian-American crooner was a fixture on radio, records, film and, naturally, the medium which seemingly suited the genial, gentle vocalist best: television. Starting with The Chesterfield Supper Club‘s transition to NBC-TV in the late 1940s, the subsequent debut of The Perry Como Show on CBS-TV in the early 1950s, and then a transition back to NBC in full-hour color programs that continued until 1967, at which time he focused mostly on holiday specials through the early 1990s, “Mr. C” was like a member of the family. That “C” could well have stood for “Christmas,” as MPI Home Video is proving yet again with an exciting new DVD release.
MPI is following up its 2013 release of 1974’s The Perry Como Christmas Show (which featured the Carpenters) with a new title available in stores now: Perry Como’s Olde English Christmas, which originally aired on ABC-TV in 1977. While a handful of Como’s beloved Christmas shows have been issued on VHS and DVD, many more have resided solely in the vaults, making this release all the merrier.
The hourlong program has been beautifully restored from the original ABC-TV broadcast master videotape. It was shot on location at a British estate with beautiful seasonal decorations evoking centuries past in the historic castle. Joining Perry were British-born pop stars Petula Clark and Leo Sayer along with stage and screen star Gemma Craven (The Slipper and the Rose, Pennies from Heaven) and dancer John Curry.
Highlights include a medley of classic carols including “The Holly and The Ivy,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” in addition to “Joy to the World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Perry offers smooth solos on “Greensleeves,” “Old Fashioned Christmas Card,” and his perennial closer, “Ave Maria.” He also duets with Petula on “Where Is Love” from Oliver! and “There’s a Kind of Hush” before teaming with Sayer on his U.K. and U.S. chart-topping ballad “When I Need You.” Sayer also performs another U.S. Number One, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” with assistance from a choreographed ensemble, and Petula presents her own “You’re My Destiny.”
That’s not all. As a special bonus, MPI has included half a dozen long-unseen Como Christmas songs from his TV programs spanning the 1950s through 1980s including color treats such as “Christmas Bells” from 1967, “The Christmas Song” from 1973, “The Lord’s Prayer” from 1974, and “White Christmas” from 1983, plus “Bless This House” from 1966 and “Auld Lang Syne” from a decade earlier.
This holiday celebration is a timely and heart-warming return to the era when variety specials ruled the airwaves with timeless musical artists who appealed to multiple generations. MPI has more Como coming in the springtime, when it plans to premiere on DVD Perry Como’s Music Hall – Special Edition (In Color) featuring more long-lost footage from the swinging sixties and early seventies, with guest appearances by George Carlin, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, and the late, great Nancy Wilson.
In the meantime, Perry Como’s Olde English Christmas is waiting for a spot under your tree or as a stocking stuffer over your fireplace! It’s available now and can be purchased from Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. TBD / Amazon Canada!