A recent shipment from COMC included a bunch of cards from the UK, including the 3 vintage non-sports cards featured in this post.
I’ll talk about the cards first, and then explain why I got them near the end of the post. The cards I got are from the 1959 Kane Products “Disc Stars” set. The 50-card set has names that are still well known today: Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte and others. Don’t get your hopes up, I didn’t get any of those cards.
The first card I got was of Alma Cogan who was a very popular British singer of the 1950s and early 1960s. Sadly she died in 1966, succumbing to cancer at just 34 years old.
Interestingly enough, there was a Kane Products “Film Stars” set in 1958 which also included Alma Cogan, even though she didn’t really appear in motion pictures (although plenty of television).
These cards are pretty nice, and a bit oversized. To give you an idea of the size of these cards, here’s a comparison to a 1953 Bowman card I got in the same COMC shipment. The Disc Stars card is the same height as the Bowman but a little bit wider.
According to the set overview on TCDB, the set was also issued in a smaller 2 3/8″ x 2 1/4″ size.
The other two cards I got are for Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr, a married couple who were known as “Mr. and Mrs. Music”. Like Alma Cogan they were popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, but weren’t as popular after groups like The Beatles came along. Their big hit was a song called “Sing, Little Birdie” which came in 2nd place in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest (more on that in a moment).
So that’s what I got. If you’re a die-hard fan of Monty Python, you can probably figure out why I got these cards, but I’ll go ahead and explain.
I’ll start with Teddy & Pearl… There was a Monty Python sketch called either “World Forum” or “Communist Quiz” where communists Karl Marx, Mao Tse-tung, Che Guevara and Lenin are on a panel show, seemingly to discuss political matters, but it turns into a game show where they’re quizzed on British Football (Soccer) and pop culture. One of the questions asked – at least in versions performed for the British public – was this: “Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1959… What was the name of their song?” As I mentioned before, the song was “Sing, Little Birdie” and they didn’t actually win, they finished 2nd.
For what it’s worth, when this sketch was performed for American audiences, such as in the “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” movie and on the “Live At City Center” album, the question was changed to one about Jerry Lee Lewis. In both cases, Chairman Mao got the question right.
Here’s the Communist Quiz sketch from the “Live At Drury Lane” album. If you have a short attention span, the question about Teddy & Pearl comes at 1:25.
And here is the song… The song is representative of popular music at the time, and they do sing very well together, but 21st century audiences might think it pretty cheesy.
As for Alma Cogan, she was referenced on the album “The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python And The Holy Grail”. In a non-movie track called “Logician”, John Cleese’s character says that Sir Bedevere’s conclusion that “All wood burns therefore all that burns is wood” is “pure bullshit”, and as an example of how universal affirmatives can only be partially converted, the logician states that “All of Alma Cogan is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are Alma Cogan”.
In the sketch, Alma Cogan is mentioned at 0:25 and again at the end (starting at 2:35)
And here’s a clip of Alma from what appears to be French TV in 1963. She certainly knew how to look into the TV camera and reach her viewers.