In 1970 the wise heads of The Dean Martin Show decided to give four of The Golddiggers a chance to be their very own quartet. In this photo you see – from left to right – Susan Lund, Wanda Bailey, Renee Smith and Michelle DellaFave. These ladies were given the moniker ‘The Ding-A-Ling Sisters’, and they performed around Dean or by themselves on nearly every show during the sixth season while retaining their membership in The Golddiggers. Susan had been with the show since mid-1968, although she left the group for half a year. Michelle was newly inducted in late January 1969, continuing into 1973; Susan returned in the late summer of 1969, missing the group’s first album recorded for MetroMedia but solidly singing with them on the second album titled “We Need A Little Christmas”. The Golddiggers transformed constantly from the very start, with Renee and Wanda joining the group in early 1970. As a further note to her future on The Dean Martin Show, Renee was assigned the Princess-like name of Tara Leigh; she kept the name for all of her three years at NBC SoundStage Four.
The first Fabulous Foursome were not given their new monicker until the sixth season began, but they started performing in bit parts seperately from The Golddiggers in late September. Here they are in paired photos from a show featuring Frank Sinatra among the guests. Dean and Frank sat on stools while Les Brown’s band played a jazzy instrumental number, and the girls danced around the men on custom-built stage boxes. They shimmied and swayed, stepping carefully so not to interfere with each other’s dancing but staying limber enough to project an image of artistic perfection – as if they had spent their entire lives mastering the Art. The visual effects were entrancing, and at the end of the display the girls each raised one hand up high in a salute to Dean, Frank, the audience and viewers everywhere.
The Ding-A-Ling Sisters also went with Bob Hope on his 1970 USO tour to Vietnam and other war zones. They were literally the Top Act among the performers. Our boys in Vietnam certainly remembered Michelle DellaFave and Susan Lund by their previous appearances with The Golddiggers. Now the full group returned with the added attraction of The Ding-A-Ling Sisters: Michelle and Susan plus Tara Leigh and Wanda Bailey. The two newcomers are sporting hairtails in this photo at the Long Binh airbase in South Vietnam. The foursome is gyrating to a dance number known as…the ‘Funky Chicken’ (In 2007 Michelle commented about that dance…”oh, what fun!”)!
There must be other photos of the first Ding-A-Ling Sisters on Dean Martin’s stage, but they are not available at this writing of December 2, 2009. So we’ll go on to their second year when half of the cast had changed; Wanda and Susan stayed with The Golddiggers while two new girls joined Michelle and Tara. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ultimate Blast!With a dash of body english and shimmering brighter than the Fourth of July, the newly re-formed Ding-A-Ling Sisters opened the seventh season of The Dean Martin Show with a rockin’ jingle that became the best-known theme song in the history of American television; No. 1 in the Nation!