Saturday, January 21, 2012
Singapore in 1964, Dragon Season Of Superlatives
Dragon Year 1964 was not a year to forget. During the Chinese New Year season from around 13th February, the cinemas in Singapore were showing two Elvis Presley movies simultaneously, Love In Las Vegas, with Ann Margret at the Lido at Orchard Road and Fun In Acapulco (image 3) with Ursula Andress (undress too, they say) at the Cathay. Elvis hits were heard everywhere.
Just wondering how Singapore pop fans felt because this was the same year and month when the The Beatles invasion of the US (image 5) started as they left London on February 8th for North America with their amore-y (armoury) of mop-top music. It looked like a new dragon month of superlatives.
But that month, floods were in their superlatives too. So if Singaporeans had dared to brave the rain, attractions at the cinemas in town illuminated big names like Yul Brynner and George Chakiris acting as Kings Of The Sun at the Capitol. Doris Day and James Garner were in Move Over Darling at the Odeon (read previous posting). And comedians Bob Hope and Jack Lemmon appeared in the midnight hour with A Globall Affair and Under The Yum Yum Tree.
In the smaller theatres, a Chinese movie called, The Story of Three Loves (image 4) starring Grace Chang, Lin Tsui and Chao Lei were showing at the Alhambra, Majestic and Odeon-Katong cinemas respectively. The three actors were top-notch then and the movie was a special CNY attraction.
With a similar theme, P. Ramlee as actor, director and producer was making it big in another of his movies. Madu Tiga or Mistresses Three (image 1) was showing to full houses at the Rex Cinema. It was a once-in-a-lifetime double festival as Singaporeans and Malaysians were also enjoying Hari Raya Puasa which started the next day for Muslims. So the term Kungsi Raya (coined from Kungsi Fa Cai and Hari Raya) came to be and according to the calendars, happened only once in 30 years.
For those who had preferred to stay at home and watched TV with the family during cosy rainy nights, The Kung Hee, Kung Hee Show was on and top artistes that year featured, Sugiman Jahuri, T.F. Tan, Malay comedienne Momo Latiff (of Malay film fame) and a skiffle group called Spitfire.
There was another variety show the next morning on 14th February called, Let's Get Together with The Suara Singapura Singers, The Singing Khoos, Alban deSouza, Malay comedian Alias Congo aka Abang Apek, female impersonator Percy Leicester (like Kumar without the jokes) and Terrence de Souza with his Band. The highlight of the show were The Gaylads (image 2) from the Flamingos Combo, the top most wanted band at Singapore's night-spots those years.
These were early years for Singapore pop when The Crescendos hit the headlines with Mr. Twister, The Sundowners with Malaysia Wonderful and The Quests (image 6) with their big hit Shanty. Andy and The Silver Strings got together and were playing the circuit with band engagements at nitespots, while in Hong Kong, The Fabulous Echoes became the pop Pinoy group with A Little Bit Of Soap and Dancing On The Moon.
Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Elvis, Beatles, Bob Hope, Quests, Crescendos and Flamingos. It was truly a year of superlatives.
End of Dragon tale. Back to reality. And a happy 2012 everyone!