C.C. Courtney & WNOE Program Director Greg Mason combing Peter Noone's (Herman's Hermits) hair.
Dan Diamond, Ken Elliott (Jack The Cat), PD Greg Mason, Jim Stewart,
C.C. Courtney, Lou Kirby, Hugh Dillard
September 4, 1965
Email from C.C. Courtney to Bob Walker on August 12, 2002:
Man, what a surprise. A friend called me to come look at the computer. (She's always looking up stuff about me on there for the fun of it.) There was your site and you were talking to Ann in Texas telling her that maybe I would write. Well, here I am. And there you are.
What are you up to these days? Besides running a cool website.
Well, there was some fact and some fiction in your rumors about my existence since I first left N.O. I came to New York to become an actor and, thankfully, was quite successful. I did The Doctors, the number two soap opera at the time for a while. I did most of the major TV shows shooting in NYC, like NYPD, and a couple of movies. I also did Broadway and Off-Broadway stage acting.
But it was writing that got to me. I wrote plays for Broadway and Off-Broadway with some success. Then I realized---here I was writing, telling people how to live their lives, while there was so much I did not know. So I left New York and moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where I got married and had two kids, a boy and a girl. And beleve me I learned a lot.
There was one period in there when Buzz Bennett called me and begged me to come to N.O. and help him win the radio ratings. I was so glad to get back to N.O. that I jumped at the chance. But as you said, that was an unfortunate experience. AM radio was giving way to FM and the WNOE AM tower was falling down and had a very weak signal. We still won the ratings a couple of times before it all fell apart.
Then I ended up with my kids by myself. I went back to my place in Virginia. And then I learned even more. When they got up in age, I moved to Richmond where they could get a good education and learn something about city life. Meanwhile, I went back to college and got a Masters degree.
Then I went with a gentleman from the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and helped him establish a theatre company in Louisiana. Swine Palace it's called. For that I got another Masters degree.
Then I moved to Costa Rica. I was actually interested in Cuba, thinking that when relations were finally returned to normal somebody was going to make a lot of money.
While I was there the acting school I had attended in New York got in contact with me and asked me if I would come teaching acting up there. The Neighborhood Playhouse is the best in the country, producing such stars as Joanne Woodward, Steve McQueen, and Robert Duvall among the hundreds of older ones, and Allison Janney from West Wing and Mary Steenburgen and Dylan McDermott from the Practice and hundreds of others from today's actors. Pretty good for a school that only graduates 25 per year.
Well, to make a long story almost short, I came up here to teach. I didn't think I would particularly like it, but like N.O. I love NYC. But I can tell you I love it. I love teaching acting. I feel that, except for my children, it is the most important thing I have ever done in my life. At last all the dropping careers and moving around are over.
You know, N.O. in the 60s has meant so much to me. I learned so much about life and a ton about show business. Years later when I was doing well as an actor, had an extremely popular soap character and caused the Illinois State Fair to come to a screeching halt when another soap actor and I went out to make an appearance there, it didn't mean that much to me. I had had better experiences in N.O.
When my picture was on the covers of 16 and Teen and other teen magazines, it wasn't as important to me as having my picture in high school newspapers in N.O. I guess the time in N.O. helped me face success in New York with a sense of humility and realize that that was not what I wanted. It had been more fun in N.O. when it was more personal. And I was doing no good for anybody or the world as an actor whereas in N.O. we were doing some good for the world in the 60s. The world was changing big time and we were playing the soundtrack. And we could choose it in those days, it wasn't chosen for the jocks like it is now. I loved it.
Congrats on your mag. I published one too for a couple of years. You remember it---FRED. I learned a lot there too.
Acting training is a life changing experience. I take in 25 students in September and turn out 25 or so totally different people in May. There are three first year classes at The Neighborhood Playhouse. So out of the 75 first year students only 25 or so are invited back for the second year. The students have to take speech, dance, singing and stage combat as well as acting. It is the oldest acting school in the U.S. And I love it.
Again, thanks for your kindness.
C.C. COURTNEY FUN FACTS & TRIVIA:
THEIR SINGING BODIES - C.C. and Lou Kirby recorded Buddy Holly's "Maybe Baby" in 1965. It was played on WNOE and WTIX, plus all over the 'NOE listening area (WNOE was a 50,000 watt radio blowtorch) and in Houston and other places. C.C. and Lou appeared and performed it at the 1965 WNOE All-Star show at Municipal Auditorium. They performed in black tights with a sash around the waist, and no shirts...they were painted in shiny metallic gold (and not very healthy) paint from waist to the top of their heads. Cherie (Vitrano Smith) played the Singing Bodies on the radio into the late '90's.
HUBBA HUBBA - Reliable rumor has it that it was indeed C.C.'s DJ buddy Lou Kirby who swiped the "Hubba Hubba" sign off the Mississippi River Bridge. Like Mayor Schiro said, "Don't believe any false rumors unless you hear them from me."
SALVATION - After his move from New Orleans to New York, C.C. was the co-author (along with Peter Link) of the 1969 Broadway play "Salvation." He also co-wrote the music. One song "(If You Let Me Make Love To You) Why Can't I Touch You" sung by Ronnie Dyson hit the pop charts and went to #2.
EARL OF RUSTON - The second play C.C. wrote. It was about Earl D. Woods, the "town crazy" of Ruston, LA.
RUSTON, LA - C.C. was born in Ruston, but considers New Orleans his home. He spent very little of his youth in Ruston. Actually he lived more in New Orleans, as his parents divorced leaving C.C. and his brother to live here and there, a bit of which was in N.O.
MURPHY'S CANYON - C.C.'s familiar signoff on WNOE "Remember, nobody lives in Murphy's Canyon but my brother" was C.C.'s twist on a standard and nonsensical signoff on many stations at that time. The saying had been "Hardly anybody lives in Murphy's Canyon," and it was first used on WNOE by Long John Silver in 1962. C. C.'s brother, who was also a jock in another city, had also used it. When his brother got killed in 1964, C. C. changed it to "Nobody Lives In Murphy's Canyon but my brother." Then C.C. added "Mele Kalikimaka" to it. That's Hawaiian for "Merry Christmas," not his brother's name. So the official C.C. Courtney signoff was "Remember, nobody lives in Murphy's Canyon but my brother...Mele Kalikimaka."
C.C.'s REAL BROTHER - From C.C.:
"On August 24, 1964
William Kennth Courtney of Ruston, Louisiana
And so was I."
MURPHY'S CANYON ON THE STAGE - The first play C. C. wrote that was produced off-Broadway in New York was called Murphy's Canyon.
PRETTY BABY - Rent the movie "Pretty Baby" sometime. It was 12-year-old Brooke Shields' first movie. A tale about Storyville and filmed in the French Quarter in the late '70's, you'll catch C.C. decked out as a Naval officer in the parlor of one of the "houses." As Brooke Shields passes by, C.C. says "Well, what have we here?"
THE DOCTORS - C.C. was a "recurring character" and he got more scenes the longer he appeared on "The Doctors," a popular soap opera on NBC-TV in the early '70's.
JODY LEE BRONSON - C.C.'s character on "The Doctors." According to C.C.: "It was an extremely popular character, I think because it was humorous. Not much humor on soaps."
NYPD - C.C. was a special guest star on NYPD, and he also played incidental parts on all the shows shooting in NYC.
KAHLIL GIBRAN - C.C. would close his show on Saturday nights by reading a passage from "On Love" from the book "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran, to set the mood for those couples listening and parked somewhere under the moon. After reading it he would close by playing "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" by the Flamingos.
THE KISSING TONE - Earlier, C.C. would end his Saturday night show with more direct help for parked lovers listening. He played the recorded Kissing Tone setup: "It's time for the C.C. Courtney Kissing Tone. In the interest of germ warfare and the furtherance of the medical profession, WNOE now presents the kissing tone," followed by about 15 seconds of exaggerated kissing sound effects. Then C.C. would play "Lovers Never Say Goodbye."
HOW'S YOUR BODY? - C.C. and Lou's way of asking "How are you?"
MY MAIN MAN - How C.C. and Lou addressed each other on the air.
THE SEVEN SEAS - A favorite C.C. watering hole in the Quarter.
WHERE IS LOU KIRBY? - Lou now owns and operates a construction company in Cancun!
IN MEMORY OF STEVE CASEY - Passed away in August, 2002. Afternoon Drive DJ on WNOE and C.C.'s good friend during C.C.'s return to New Orleans and 'NOE with Buzz Bennett in the late '70's.
E-MAIL MEMORIES of C. C. COURTNEY FROM FANS
ISABELLE IN AUSTRALIA:
Yay!!!! good job! He was so popular in N.O. and now has spread his wings to touch others all over the place... His talent deserves to be shared... too much for one little town like New Orleans... :-)
CC and I have been friends since the 60's although we haven't seen each other in years... In fact, I went to Woodstock with CC and his then girlfriend Carole... Small world, eh?
It was good to read about CC's life over these last 30 some odd years. I will always remember him as the WNOE jock that was "different." His show had fun drop-ins and he did have that weekend sign-off thing with "Lovers Never Say Goodbye." I had actually forgotten about that until I read it on the site. Then it just came back to me as clearly as if it were yesterday.
Then there was the "Murphy's Canyon" bit. For the longest time I didn't know that his "brother's" name meant Merry Christmas in Hawaii. How naive I was?
Bob, got an email from cc the other day telling me of your site and how i might want to check it out..........cause cc knows I AM THE BIGGEST CC FAN.............i was so glad someone had managed to save a couple of the old surveys and you were able to get them. .......for years i had some stuck back.........but on one of my many moves they got lost.......how i don't know.....because they were my treasures for so long.........i did manage to keep an envelope cc scribbled something on one time when he sent me a survey......and every time i see him......or know he is going to drop by i think.......i need to get that thing out and see what he scribbled.... but i forget.......i mean.......it is one of those.....my heart be still things........anyway......thanks for the site........one sunday morning a few years back i was so excited when the headlines in the magazine section of my local paper read "CC COURTNEY RIPPED BACK TO BATON ROUGE.............my child was taking some drama courses at a local high school and was required to attend some performance each session of school.........i read her the article and said.......you want to go.......i said.......it will be entirely different from anything you have ever seen at the local little theater.........and it was.......she was enthralled........so enthralled she said......can we see it again........do you really know him mama......i said.......yes.....i have been in love with him since i was 16.......so began the rekindling of an old friendship............i guess i have the last two remaining copies of the singing bodies singing.....diagnosis neurosis......what am i gonna do with you......maybe baby.......and of course............you've gotta feel it............as a matter of fact..........one year when my child was in HS she had to write a play......and it was set in a mental institution.......and she wanted music to play.........we could not obtain a copy of they're coming to take me away.........and then i remembered diagnosis neurosis.........i swung from the closet pole to get it and it was the perfect thing to set off her play..........well.......again thanks for the memories..........and the surveys........now my child can see what he looked like long ago when he was so hot...............modestyann
C GROUP- ANDREW, SHAUNA, JODI, KIM, DUANE, SARA, JOHN, AVERY, INBAL, TIFFANY, NICK, MAGNUS:
CC Courtney is our acting teacher (first years) at The Neighborhood Playhouse. The man is a genius. We are, by far, the luckiest 12 people in the school. We get the best teacher, the coolest teacher and the only teacher with "monday morning stories". We're extremely proud to have the opportunity to be guided by CC. We may never have had the chance to hear him on the radio like the rest of his fans, but we are definitely his biggest fans. We know how cool we are to have him all to ourselves... :) Love ya dad!!!
I thought I would add my recollections of C. C. During my high school years, the only way for my sister and I to listen to our favorite DJ was to sneak out to the car and listen on the car radio. It would waver in and out which was irksome only if C.C. was talking. We could hear the music anywhere, but C. C. was only on WNOE.
Years later, while strolling through the hallway of the drama department at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, La. (that other college just down the road from C.C.'s hometown of Ruston), there was a local newspaper account of hometown boy's Broadway production of "The Earl of Ruston."
Wow, there was my guy again! Then, he showed up on TV in my favorite soap opera. C. C. was everywhere! I was New Orleans in 1976 visiting with friends and turned on the radio to WNOE - there was C.C.
Eventually, C. C. came back into my life indirectly. I started as a part-time DJ in Ruston in 1980. Always in the back of mind was the thought that if I could be as good as C. C., then I would be a real DJ.
While working at KWKH-FM in Shreveport in 1994, I was comparing notes with one of the three Country Radio Music Hall of Fame DJ's at that station. I asked him who had been his favorite DJ when he was young - C. C. Courtney! The conversation that ensued about our favorite DJ was a hoot!
C.C. Courtney - man, he was good!
C.C. Courtney as
"Jody Lee Bronson"
on The Doctors