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Reviews and News

The latest review of SWING is by Yahoo! Contributor Mary Beth Magee.

If you have Amazon Prime you can now 'borrow' the Kindle version of SWING for FREE!

Here's another book review, by Scott Eyman of the Palm Beach Post.  

The list of positive reviews for SWING continues:

I highly recommend this book. I usually listen to audio books, but this is one book in print that I couldn't put down. Don't even think about it. Just read it! This is a good one.  

"SWING" is a great read, and a more than impressive, heartfelt, first novel from this author. Bravo!  

A great read about perseverance and acceptance and a trip to the world of Swing.

Here is my recommendation...buy it for your IPad or eReader, download some Louis Prima songs, put your earphones in, turn up the volume and enjoy it.

Alan Gerstel's Blog
headshot of Alan Gerstel, author


Click here to buy the book on Amazon.

It is also available as an ebook.


Entries in Smothers Brothers (1)


Jean Stapleton

Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker) passed away at the age of 90.  For me, it is the end of an era because I am proud to say that I knew her well.

The first Broadway show my mother took me to when I was about 10 years old was "The Bells Are Ringing" starring Judy Holiday.  The plot revolved around a telephone answering service.  (For those too young to remember the days before Voice Mail, these services took phone messages for you.)  In the show, the plot revolved around a company known as "Susansa-phone."   Jean played one of the operators, and I can still hear her shrill voice as she sat at the switchboard and answered: "Susansa-phone."

That show exposed me to the magic of theatre and forever changed my life.

Fast Forward to the late 60's.  I got a job at CBS Television City in Los Angeles and was working in an office near the four sound stages where shows like "Carol Burnett", "Glen Campbell" and "Jim Nabors" were taped. One of the perks of employment there was the opportunity to sit in on studio rehearsals and even the taping of shows.

Jean Stapleton and I exchanged greetings several times in the hallway outside my office and eventually Jean (being the sweetheart that she was) began to tell me about this new show she was in called "All in the Family."  She told me that CBS had only ordered THREE episodes of the show, and that she believed that it would NEVER be aired.  CBS, after all, was the very conservative network that had cancelled the controversial Smothers Brothers show several years before.

I was so intrigued by what Jean told me that I made it my business to attend the very first taping of "All in the Family."  As the first scene played out, the audience members... who were initially blissfully unaware of the content of the show... began to howl in disbelief!!!  They had never heard any dialog like this on television.  Neither had I.  And I began to reflect on what Jean had said about the show never making it into viewers' living rooms.

It WAS aired, though.  But at the beginning of the first several episodes, CBS put up a full-screen disclaimer warning viewers of the sensitive subject matter to come.  The rest is history.

As the show continued over the next weeks and months, Jean and I cemented our relationship.  She even helped me try to get other work in the entertainment business.  I eventually moved back to New Jersey, but we never lost touch.  

Jean and her late husband, Bill Putch, operated the Totem Pole Playhouse (a Summer Stock theatre in Pennsylvania) and Jean invited me and my then-fiance' Ronni, to visit.  And we did.  We watched a performance of "Butterflies are Free" starring an unknown actor named John Ritter and we had dinner and spent some wonderful time with Jean and Bill.

I saw Jean last in West Palm Beach in 2000, when she was touring in a play about Eleanor Roosevelt.  And all those years later, she still remembered our conversations at Television City.  And I can honestly say she remained the same gracious, down-to-earth human being I had come to know and love.  R.I.P.