Gisele MacKenzie sings Papa Loves Mambo in a holiday setting. 12-18-1954

The mambo, a Cuban dance form, first became popular in the United States in the late 1940s and reached its peak of  popularity here in about 1954. Perry Como’s recording of the song “Papa Loves Mambo,” by Al Hoffman, Dick Manning, and Bix Reichner,  was released on August 31, 1954 and made it to #5 or #4 on the Billboard chart later in the year.

Nowadays most recording artists perform their own material, but in the 1950s, the fact that Como scored big did not mean that other stars regarded the song as his. Many performers sought to capitalize on the success of others by releasing other versions of their songs.

And so in December of that same year, Giselle MacKenzie, admired as both singer and dancer with beautiful legs, appeared on Your Hit Parade singing and dancing to “Papa Loves Mambo.” Since it was December, the dance features Santa Claus (Papa) dancing at the North Pole.

This and similar televised acts are important predecessors of todays music videos. It is probably only because technology did not yet permit it that such performances were not released as singles, just like the records themselves were.

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