I remember first hearing Perry Como's great hits when I was growing up in the Bronx in the '40s. In the early '60s, when I was a struggling TV newscaster in San Diego, the Como television show had just gone to color, and on Wednesday nights around 9:20, the ''Sing to Me, Mr. C'' segment would air on NBC. I was always pressed for time, but that segment was my weekly treat. Perry would come out in a cardigan sweater, go up on a podium, and sit on a stool with a boom mike overhead and a music stand in front of him. He'd sing a medley of three great love songs. Oh, yes: Don't forget that rose in a glass vase on the floor next to him. So understated, so simple, so classy.
Now when you see the black-and-white numbers in The Best of Perry Como: Volume One, from his TV show and Christmas specials of the 1950s and early '60s, you can't help but get that warm feeling. Perry has such an intimate quality. He's so normal you naturally relate to him. Even when things go wrong, such as a lip-synching problem while he's ice-skating to ''Round and Round,'' you have to smile and laugh, because that's what he's doing.
Nothing ever rattled Perry. Sure, the songs were uncomplicated and maybe corny, too, but ''Till the End of Time'' and ''White Christmas'' will go on forever. The costumes and props are primitive, but TV was just beginning. Perry Como was there, and he's been with us ever since. This videotape brings back a flood of wonderful memories of his early days and mine. I love it. A