Paul was not only a television heartthrob in the pre-Beatles era, but a singer and musician who parlayed his success to the national record charts as well. When the show's producer, Tony Owen, (Donna Reed's husband), said to Paul, "You're going to be singing on TV", Paul said, "Great! I hope I can be as successful as Ricky Nelson. Rick was singing on his show and getting all the girls. I wanted to have my share."Paul's debut, She Can't Find Her Keys, hit number 19 on the charts. It was not a favorite of Paul's mainly because of its novelty flavor and how he constantly got mistaken for Brian Hyland who sang Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. The follow up, Keep Your Love Locked, was something Paul was proud of. It was written by Gerry Goffin and his then wife, Carole King. Paul remembers Carole playing this haunting song for him at the piano.
The third single, Lollipops and Roses, written by Tony Velona, actually was bigger for Paul than it was earlier that year for Jack Jones. It was the fourth single that brought Paul his first Top 10 hit. The sentimental My Dad, by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, was completely heartfelt by both its writers and artist. The song was part of a Donna Reed Show episode on October, 1962, in which Jeff's father, Dr. Alex Stone (superbly played by Carl Betz), was always missing family events because of house calls. When he arrived too late to hear Jeff's song in a show, the band persuaded Jeff to perform an encore backstage. Paul completely identified with the song because of his own father-son relationship and because of his great love for Betz.
Many fans have written wanting to know the lyrics to My Dad so they can pay tribute to their own fathers. The lyrics are as follows:
He isn't much in the eyes of the world
He'll never make history
No, he isn't much in the eyes of the world
But he is the world to me
My dad, now here is a man
To me he is everything strong
No, he can't do wrong, my dad
My dad, now he understands
When I bring him troubles to share
Oh, he's always there, my dad
When I was small I felt ten feet tall
When I walked by his side
And everyone would say "That's his son"
And my heart would burst with pride
My dad, oh I love him so
And I only hope that some day
My own son will say
"My dad, now here is a man"
The song was a beautifully orchestrated record by "The Donna Reed Show's" composer, Stu Phillips and produced by Colpix Records. To purchase Stu's new book about his forty years in the music business, click here.
After this episode aired, it was only a matter of weeks before the record had become one of the nation's top-selling singles. This has got to be my favorite episode as I'm sure it has to be among every fan's favorite. In December of 1998, this show was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an "all-time" episode. The president of Sony Pictures made the presentation to Paul and the museum. Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Stu Phillips were also there.
Shelley Fabares was also asked to record while The Donna Reed Show was still in production. It was sheer terror for Shelley since she felt she couldn't sing. Owen insisted they make records and that they did. Stu Phillips had been retained as producer and arranger. Her first record,
Johnny Angel, went straight to number one on the charts.
To this day people have joked that Paul never met a microphone he didn't like, and it's true! He didn't embarrass easily, and he never pretended that as a singer, he was God's gift to the world, but he enjoyed singing and getting up in front of an audience and doing it. During the last three years, Paul's music has experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the release of his My Dad and Lollipops and Roses , CD and his
Best of Paul Petersen CD, both feature some of Paul's best known material. On being a teen heartthrob, Paul says, "It was an experience that was enriching, exhilarating and fun and I had a ball. What I didn't know was that I was gonna get a bill. A teen idol is locked in time. When you're admired, you're also resented at the same time, and there are a great number of men who will admit to me even today that they hated my guts. My records would come on the radio and their girlfriends would squeal, so there was a kind of built-in animosity towards me that lasted for about twenty years."
"My Dad" sheet music. Click on above thumbnails for printable scans.
Recordings with Shelley Fabares and James Darren:
Teenage Triangle and More Teenage Triangle.
Paul sings a couple of songs on this Soundtrack from his movie, The Happiest Millionaire.
More Paul Petersen Merchandise at Amazon.com