If you look closely at the music Nino is
holding, you can see the name ôRudy Friml music. He was the contractor
from the musicians' union who hired Nino for this job. He was the son of
the famous composer Rudolf Friml, Sr. who wrote "Indian Love Call"
and "Rose Marie." "A Star Is Born" with Judy Garland
was filmed in 1953, which puts Nino at 18 years old in this photo.
The Fifties . . .
By 1954, Nino was trying his hand at film acting, appearing as clarinet
player "Wilbur Schwartz" (a thinly disguised alias for Benny G.) in the
box office hit "The Glenn Miller Story" with James Stewart. Later, in
1959, while filming a role in "Operation Petticoat," he met his
long-time friend, Cary Grant. Playing jazz at various clubs, writing
songs for well-established pop stars Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, and
Rosemary Clooney, recording his own solo pop vocals and instrumentals,
as well as doing a lot of rock and roll studio work kept Nino very busy
in the late fifties and early sixties.
Nino And June Blair
In 1959, Nino and April penned a
tune slightly reminiscent in theme of (and tagged with an even better
punchline than) her early recording "Don't Do It", this one entitled
"Teach Me Tiger." This time, however, the singer was a willing young
siren, who belies her innocent plea to be 'taught', by sensually coaxing
a strangely oblivious young man. Again banned in many markets, "Teach Me
Tiger" nevertheless made Billboard's Hot 100 and capped at #86.
But "Teach Me Tiger" has had many lives in the last 25 years.
Re-recorded twice in 1965, the new version became a camp classic in many
U.S. and foreign cities. On April 6, 1983, the astronauts aboard space
shuttle Challenger requested the song as a wake-up call. NASA obliged
the crew, and April was again in the news. The song has always been one
of the highlights of Nino and April's stage show, as April, growling and
cooing playfully, caresses the face of some unsuspecting male audience
member, while Nino warns "Watch it guy, that's my sister!" Still popular
today in many parts of Europe, "Teach Me Tiger" was recently used as the
theme for a bread commercial in Germany.
Below are a couple of Snader Telescription videos made in 1952 specifically for
television. The first features April singing "Meant To Tell You," one of her final RCA
recordings. The gentleman playing April's date is Bob Grabeau.
The second Snader film is April's version
of the Billie Holiday classic "Lover Man," which April never
recorded...although she once performed the song live on radio as "Carol