RIP: Lloyd Thaxton, host of 60’s TV dance show

Lloyd Thaxton Show
Last Sunday, Lloyd Thaxton, host of a popular Los Angeles TV dance show in the 1960s, passed away at the age of 81. After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma back in May, he passed away at his home in Studio City, survived by his wife, Barbara.

The Los Angeles Times provided a nice overview of this his career:

A television personality from Toledo, Ohio, who arrived in Hollywood in 1957, Thaxton launched “Lloyd Thaxton’s Record Shop” on KCOP-TV Channel 13 in 1959. The show featured records, guest stars and Thaxton’s flair for humor.

Revamped and renamed “Thaxton’s Hop” in 1962, the live, low-budget, late-afternoon program became such a hit with young Southern Californians that it was syndicated nationally in 1964.

Like “American Bandstand,” Dick Clark‘s popular TV dance show out of Philadelphia that went national in 1957 on ABC-TV, what came to be called “The Lloyd Thaxton Show” featured teenagers dancing to records and guest appearances by top recording artists such as the Byrds, Jan and Dean, the Righteous Brothers, Sonny and Cher, and the Turtles.

But new viewers quickly realized that the 30-something Thaxton was more than just a genial, dapperly dressed host.

Humorously lip-syncing — and doing assorted variations thereof — to the hit records of the day was his signature.

Here’s a little sample of the Lloyd Thaxton Show, courtesy of Los Angeles Times’ own video department.

For years, I’ve been trying to find a clip of a specific music performance from this TV show. During the height of LOUIE LOUIE fever during the 1960s, Jack Ely, the original singer of LOUIE LOUIE with the Kingsmen, was no longer welcome to sing with the original band, so he assembled another band known as Jack Ely & the Kingsmen, which was later renamed as Jack Ely & the Courtmen after a lawsuit from the other Kingsmen. The Lloyd Thaxton Show was one of the few TV shows that Jack performed on during the 1960s.

I remember talking talking to someone close to Thaxton about existing footage from the Lloyd Thaxton Show, and was told that most of the video masters were erased, and sold to other TV stations as blank tape media. There’s only small handful of TV video clips saved from the show, and Jack’s appearance from this show is probably is probably lost forever. I’m still hoping that someone has a 16mm kineoscope of that appearance, but that’s really a long shot. Jack also appeared on a teen dance party TV show in Deluth, Minnesota, but I haven’t had any luck finding that one either.

I still have hope. Maybe someone will find this blog posting, and send me an email about the video footage they've been hoarding all these years.

Hey… stranger things have happened, right?

Lloyd Thaxton

After his show came to an end, Thaxton became the host of the 1967 ABC game show “Everybody’s Talking,” “Showcase ’68” (an NBC summer series spotlighting young entertainers) and the 1968-69 ABC game show “Funny You Should Ask.” He also was a director on the 1990-94 ABC show “America’s Funniest People,” among other credits.

From 1976 to 1992, Thaxton produced and directed a TV show that became “Fight Back! With David Horowitz,” for which he won five Emmys. Thaxton also appeared with Horowitz on consumer segments for the NBC “Today” show.

For the past three years, Lloyd maintained his own blog at
http://www.lloydthaxton.blogspot.com/

Back in May, around the time his myeloma was diagnosed,
he wrote a blog posting called THE DO-IT-YOURSELF-OBIT where he wrote these suggestions:

Go to a cemetery (in the daytime please and skip the dead cat). Note that on the gravestones they have a name and a couple of dates. For example “Charles Swindoll, 1840-1932” and between those two dates there’s that tiny little dash. That dash (-) is supposed to represent Charles Swindle’s entire life. 92 years. What a put-down. That infinitesimal dash says nothing about the people he helped and nurtured. It says nothing about the children Mr. Swindoll might have raised or sired. It tells nothing about how he lived his life; the kind of person he was. Here’s the big question:

WHAT WILL YOUR DASH STAND FOR?

That brings me to the subject of this blog, “Deadlines.” Do you read the obituaries in the paper? Of course you do. Obits are interesting and sometimes very enlightening to read. What some people have accomplished in their lives is fascinating copy. Don’t you find it kind of sad when you read a tiny little obit about someone? That’s telling you that this person’s “dash” meant so little no one wrote anything down.

Don’t let this happen to you. How you ask? Easy. We call it

THE DO-IT-YOURSELF-OBIT

Yes, that’s right. You write your own obituary. NOW!

Come on. This is going to be fun. Take out a piece of paper and start right now. Gruesome? No way. This is life we’re talking about here. Not death (however there is a deadline of sorts). Start out by listing the people you love and who love you. Note the accomplishments you’ve made in your life no matter how small. Married? Raised kids? Job’s you’ve held. Charities you’ve worked on. Anything. Do you consider yourself a good person, a kind person? Write it down. If you feel your list is too short, add the things you want to accomplish in the rest of your life. Write it as if you have already done it. That’s OK. That is if you start doing it. If you want your dash to mean something, you have to start now. Then all during your life, take out your Do-It-Yourself-Obit and check how you are doing. Got the idea?

Start it now. Today. This minute. Do it whether you are young or old. What you are doing is writing about what you wish to be, and than doing it so it will become the true you. What you want your life to be, and then “living” that life. You are just filling in your “dash.” It’s in the book!

As I read more about Lloyd Thaxton, I learned that he had a special sign-off saying at the end of his show, “The name of the show is ‘The Lloyd Thaxton Show,’ and my name is Lloyd Thaxton.”

On cue, every time Lloyd would say this, the teen dancers in the studio would shout out in unison, SO WHAT?

We’re going to miss you, Mr. Thaxton.

15 comments to RIP: Lloyd Thaxton, host of 60’s TV dance show

  • I was on the show once when I was a teen….boy what a thrill that was, you made a teenagers dreams come true by coming to our town Santa Maria CA. and having your show at the Fairgrounds….I am now 60 yrs old and still remember it like yesterday…thanx for the memories Lloyd!!!! “Rest In Peace”

  • Cindy Lawson

    Remember he always had troll dolls on the show, dressed in different outfits and holding protest signs! The camera would cut away to them just before the commercial breaks. I loved that show.

  • Tony Fontenot

    For Some Unknown Reason I Could Not Get You Out Of My Mind. I Remember You When I Was A Kid Taking Care Of My Grandfather Watching Your Show In The Afternoons After School. I Am Now 55. Thank You “GOOGLE” For Keeping Lloyd Thaxton Alive In Good Memories For Ever.

  • gregory smart bakken

    We who lived in the LA area in the early and middle 60’s remember with great fondness LLoyd Thaxton afternoon shows – what more to say than he was funny , hip , relaxed on camera , took chances and we saw so many popular music figures/groups . I can not forget watching Sonny and Char and the Mamas and Papas .We loved the show and we loved Lloyd Thaxton !!! and that’s not “so what ” but “so much” !!!
    take care Lloyd !!

  • brad

    anybody know where i could buy a dawk doll from the lloyd thaxton show

  • Mitch

    Brad, still looking for a Dawk? I’ve got one stashed away if your intrested.
    Mitch

  • Frank Drew

    I was on the show in late 64 or early 65. Little Stevie Wonder was the guest performer. I think his entourage then was his mother.

  • rick burke

    Lloyd was my afternoon staple when I got home from school, along with Shindig and Where the Action Is. I recall that he was very good at lip-syncing many current songs. I would always be amazed, wondering if he was a musician. He will be missed, he definitely filled a big part of my youth! Rest in peace, LLoyd!!

  • J russell

    My high school class was on the Lloyd Thaxton show in 1964. Does anyone know how we can get a copy of the tape of that show? Thanks!

  • Tina B

    I can’t believe I’m seeing people writing of being on the show, and remember lovingly my 6 times on the show with 4 or 5 friends from San Gabriel Mission HS. We danced, Jane R got picked to lip-sync In a funny wig with blonde braids, and we were all so stoked, om goodness. Such good clean fun, such a funny man. Yes, thanks Lloyd Thaxton. Hope I see you again.

  • Kris moss

    I have a dawk doll still sealed in box . How much is it worth?

  • Mary Kay O'Hanlon

    I remember seeing Sonny & Cher for the first time in 1964 on Lloyd Thaxton singing “I Got You Babe”. I lived in St. Petersburg FL. It would be 2 years before I again heard of Sonny & Cher, then on national tv. Thank you, Lloyd, for being there first.

  • Sharon Kenedi

    I remember my parents let me ditch school to be on lloyd Thaxtons,1963 We came from a few orange co. schools,Western, Savannah, and Anahiem high. love to see or get a video of show any exist? I’m 68 yrs old and still remember what I wore,was so much fun. Anyone else out there remember? Steve Mcallister was chosen to lip synch. Thanks Lloyd for the memories!

  • Tony

    I am living in San Jose Ca for 5 plus years, I am from south jersey 67 years old. When in grade school and freshman high we would watch Lloyd’s show on black white TV uhf station. The artisits previewed there for us where a fist time.

  • Bruce McIntosh

    I’m 72, and I watched the Thaxton show after high school and college in the mid 60’s in Mpls., Minnesota. He was funny and clever. I remember one time when he was lip-synching a Bob Dylan song. It was one of those really long Dylan songs and I thought it was great theater when after a minute or two of the song the show went to commercial with Lloyd still singing – I laughed. After the commercial the show returned and he was still lip-synching the unfinished song – what a crock – and then I really laughed. That was really clever!

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