What's in a Picture?
The Dave Astor Show (For Teenagers Only)
Photograph Collections of Maine Historical Society
Dave Astor named the American Bandstand-style television show he hosted on Portland’s WGAN and WCSH from 1956 to 1971 For Teenagers Only for a very good reason. “Teenagers control the family funds and the family television set,” Astor said in a 2011 interview. “I felt everyone was either a pre-teenager, teenager, or a post-teenager.” The show was built around a simple concept: local high school kids lip-syncing and dancing to the week’s most popular songs. Quickly after it first aired, this Saturday afternoon variety program became a local hit and remains to this day one of the most popular television shows in Maine’s history.
Although the show lives on in the memories of anyone who was a teenager during that era, only one complete episode still exists on video. In it, Astor pays a special visit to the Jordan’s Meats packing plant in Portland. Throughout the 1962 episode, a high-school couple in lab coats pantomimes a duet of “It’s So Nice to Have a Man Around the House,” three young men perform a choreographed dance amid factory equipment and hanging racks of meat, and one of “Dave Astor’s kids” sings “Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)” in what seems to be an executive’s office.
A few months before Astor died in December 2011, a reunion was held at Port City Music Hall to honor the Dick Clark of Maine. Before the event, Astor said of the show: “It was a great big love affair. People said for better or worse (watching the show) was like a marriage. They were stuck with Dave Astor.” —Will Bleakley