October 2019
Behind the Photograph: Dimitri Tiomkin and Peggy Castle

A dapper Dimitri Tiomkin sports a wide grin as he places an LP on a turntable while actress Peggy Castle, looking like she’s dressed for an evening out, placidly looks on. 

This intriguing photograph is captioned, “Dimitri Tiomkin, distinguished composer, winner of Academy Awards and other International honors, pictured with Peggy Castle at Warner Bros. where, as of the Spring of 1960, is doing the score and songs for “The Sundowners.”

While Tiomkin was scoring Sundowners at Warner Bros., Castle was co-starring in the WB’s production of Lawman, a Western television series. For the photo shoot, Tiomkin brought along one of his Academy Award statuettes and a conductor’s baton, both seen on the desk next to the turntable.

Tiomkin and Castle are promoting the “Hi Fi Library of the World’s Great Music,” a six-record set from Columbia Records presented by the Los Angeles Herald Express.

Each 33 1/3 rpm record, with newspaper coupons, cost US$1.39 to purchase and could be found in music stores, drug stores, gift shops, and even liquor stores. The first set was right up Tiomkin’s alley, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor and music by Gershwin and Kern. The last set featured the “Best of Hollywood” or more accurately, “Musical Hits from Hollywood.” The 12 song tracks included, “That Old Black Magic,” “September in the Rain,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Pennies from Heaven.”

“Each album in the World’s Great Music Library was recorded under the most exacting studio conditions to reproduce every delightful musical sound audible to the human ear,” according to newspapers ads.

Columbia Records may have been influenced by the “The Basic Library of the World’s Great Music” produced by the Standard Reference Publishing Company of New York, a publisher of books, music folios, and “Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia.” Kroger and Safeway stores sold the promotional line of 24 classical LPs in 1958 for $1.37. The first LP could be picked up for 37 cents with the purchase of a minimum quantity of food.

After more than a million and a half LPs sold, Standard Reference Publishing created a similar promotional line of classical LPs for A&P Super Markets in 1958 and 1959. “The Complete Standard Treasury of World’s Great Music” was issued on 16 discs. Sales were expected to pass the 2 million mark.

Record companies jumped on the bandwagon, the RCA Victor Society of Great Music appeared in 1959.

A second photograph for the Columbia release of the “Hi Fi Library of the World’s Great Music” shows Castle and Tiomkin holding the LP.

Sources

“The Complete Standard Treasury of World’s Great Music” [advertisement], Lima News, October 22, 1958

“World’s Great Music” [advertisement], Palm Springs Desert Sun, February 26, 1959

“A&P Racks $1.33 Promotional Classics,” Billboard, March 16, 1959

(Tenth in an occasional and ongoing series featuring rare or unusual photographs.)

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