Q. I love to watch repeats of “The Golden Girls,” and I’ve been wondering this for years because I love her voice: Who sings the show’s theme song, “Thank You For Being A Friend”?
— Carolyn, of Belleville
A. If you didn’t get up to fold underwear during the commercials, she perhaps became one of the most familiar television voices that you just couldn’t place.
During the 1980s and ’90s, she reminded viewers that “nobody does it like you” if they used Hoover vacuum cleaners. She urged drivers to “get on your Pontiac and ride.” For breakfast, she assured early-risers that Wheaties were “what the big boys ate.” And, from 1985 to 1992, Cindy Fee — now a transplanted Illinoisan — belted out Andrew Gold’s pop hit to start new episodes of “The Golden Girls.”
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Never heard of her, right? Don’t bother searching the Internet. Despite her TV credits (she apparently also sang the classic “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” on one Golden Girls episode in 1988), Fee is not even listed on the Internet Movie Database. While a bio says she has recorded pop records for RCA, they apparently aren’t available on Amazon.
Back in the 1980s, she and her equally musical husband, Rob Landis, lived in Los Angeles. She credits her anonymous work in ad jingles for boosting her stage confidence.
“You’ve got to be able to walk in and learn a song in about three or four minutes and go out there and then just really sing it,” she told the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest in 2012.
After their first son was born, however, the couple decided L.A. wasn’t their kind of town so they moved to Nashville, Tenn., where Fee worked for RCA. But when the record company flew her to Chicago for gigs, she fell in love with the Windy City and wound up settling in Oak Park in the late ’90s. There, she and Landis raised their two sons while keeping her hand in the music business, forming the band Cindy Fee and Cin City about five years ago.
At first, the group merely jammed at neighborhood barbecues, but gradually branched out to to do public concerts. This time, listeners heard another side of her as she dropped the pop sounds in favor of lyrics that concerned environmental issues, homelessness and “archaic” drug laws.
“I’m not out there looking for love,” she told the Journal of her musical growth. “There are great songs, but it’s just not what I’m interested in now.”
Still, she says, she has become less adverse to singing “The Golden Girls” theme when audiences request it now — although she might hear some flak from her kids. One of her sons once called her from college to say that he had gone to a party and was immediately identified as “the guy whose mom sings the ‘Golden Girls’ theme.”
If you didn’t remember (or you’re not of that age), the song originally was a hit for Andrew Gold in 1978, when it went to No. 7 in Canada and No. 11 on the U.S. Cashbox Top 100. It also was featured as a dedication to the host on Casey Kasem’s final American Top 40 on July 4, 2009. Gold, by the way, was part of one of my all-time favorite CDs when he, Kenny Edwards, Karla Bonoff and Wendy Waldman re-formed Bryndle for the group’s eponymous 1995 album. He died in his sleep of heart failure in 2011 at age 59.
Q. In a recent comic strip, an elderly woman corrects her husband for saying “cold slaw.” After arguing over cold, coal and cole, the wife finally admits she has no idea why it’s called “cole” slaw. It made me wonder, too.
— Stu Hileman, of Fairview Heights
A. For the answer, you might want to spend a little cabbage for Peter Rose’s book of 18th-century recipes entitled “The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World.” In it, you’ll find a 1700s landlady’s recipe for thin strips of cabbage mixed with melted butter, vinegar and oil.
It was one version of what the Dutch called “koolsla” — but it had nothing to do with “cool” or “cold.” The Dutch “kool” (pronounced more like “cole” than “cool”) means “cabbage” and “sla” is short for “salade” — hence, “cabbage salad.” By 1792, Americans had turned it into “coleslaw.”
Q. What has happened to “The Price is Right” on KMOV-TV? It used to be at 11 a.m., but now they have “The Young and the Restless.” Surely, they haven’t canceled such a popular show.
— A.R., of Belleville, et al.
A. Nope, you remain a winner: After 59 years (not counting a six-year hiatus), the price is still right, but the time is wrong. Instead of 11 a.m., you’ll just have to come on down to your easy chair at 10 a.m. for your daily hour of consumer knowledge mixed with the usual audience high jinx.
It’s that time of the year when the new TV season is starting on the major networks, and local stations are juggling their lineups. This year, KMOV has decided to compete with rival KSDK by launching an early evening newscast at 4 p.m. followed by episodes of “Inside Edition.” As a result, Channel 4 has moved the long-running soap to 11 a.m., pushing Drew Carey’s game show back one hour.
Ironically, what well-known Southern city remained in Union control throughout the Civil War?
Answer to Tuesday’s trivia: Fans of “The Love Boat” who didn’t keep up with their floating pleasure palace after the show ended may want to get out their hankies now. On Aug. 6, 2013, the Pacific Princess arrived in Aliaga, Turkey, where she was dismantled for parts. She didn’t go down easily. Four days later, two men died from toxic gases as they tried to pump out water from flooding below her engines.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.