Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who's That Queer

Brought to you by Pistol Pete

Johnny Mathis was born on October 31, 1935 in Gilmer, Texas, the fourth of seven children to Clem Mathis and his wife, Mildred Boyd, and is of both African-American and Caucasian ancestry. The family moved when he was young to San Francisco, California on Post Street, in the famous Fillmore district where he was raised.

His first album Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song was a slow-selling jazz album, but Mathis stayed in New York to play the clubs. His second album was produced by Columbia records vice-president and producer Mitch Miller, who defined the Mathis sound - he preferred him to sing soft, romantic ballads, initially pairing him with arranger/conductor Ray Conniff, and later, Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser and Robert Mersey. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs - "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "It's Not For Me To Say." That year MGM signed Mathis to sing the latter song in the 1957 film Lizzie, and shortly afterward he made his second film appearance for 20th Century Fox singing the song A Certain Smile in the film of the same name. He had small acting roles in both movies as a bar singer. This early cinematic visibility in two successful movies gave him mass exposure. Next was his appearance on the very popular Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 and this helped to seal his stardom. Critics called him the velvet voice.

He has received three Grammy awards. In 1979, his hit duet "The Last Time I Felt Like This" from the film Same Time, Next Year was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Mathis and Jane Olivor sang the song at the Oscar ceremony. This was his second performance at the Academy Awards. He has taped twelve of his own television specials and made over 300 television guest appearances with 33 of them being on The Tonight Show. Through the years his songs (or parts of them) have been heard in 100 plus television shows and films around the globe. His appearance on the Live by Request broadcast in May 1998 on the A&E Network had the largest television viewing audience of the series. Also in 1989, Johnny sang the opening theme for the ABC daytime soap opera Loving.

In a 1982 Us Magazine article, Mathis was quoted as having said, "Homosexuality is a way of life that I've grown accustomed to." Us Magazine later retracted the statement. After more than twenty years of silence on the subject, Mathis revealed in an interview in 2006 that his silence was due to death threats he received as a result of that 1982 article. On April 13, 2006, Mathis granted a podcast interview with The Strip in which he talked about the subject once again, and how some of his reticence to speak of the subject was partially generational.

Source: Wikipedia

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