U.S. TV Spots - new Oriondiscs website

Go to content

U.S. TV Spots

Archives > Vault > TV and Video
It has been a major problem trying to track down and record details regarding Orion/Jimmy Ellis' appearances on television.  Until now there has been no one single source listing his TV auditions or guest star spots with the info being scattered around on various websites/messageboards. Below is a list of known or rumoured appearances compiled by utilising the available information at this time. Under no circumstances can the list below be considered complete or 100% accurate, it is purely the beginning of a reference guide. With three exceptions, video footage has been viewed to give a description of the TV spots. In most cases these video clips only feature the footage of Orion/Jimmy and it is likely that other copies in existence will vary.
If you can provide further information on any of the television appearances listed below or others not listed please get in touch by email.
Should you be in possession of any of the unavailable or unconfirmed footage your assistance with this list would prove invaluable and I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Needless to say, photographs/recordings of the unavailable/unconfirmed TV spots also very welcome.

Broadcast date: 1964
First broadcast on radio before being brought to TV in 1948, this fast paced half hour talent show was the launching pad for several big stars including Gladys Knight, Ann-Margret and Pat Boone. After artists appeared on the show the voting would be thrown open to the public by phone or postal votes, three time winners would qualify for the grand final. The format was adopted in the UK as Opportunity Knocks. Little is known about Jimmy's one and only spot on the show which, by the time he appeared, was being shown on late Sunday afternoons on the CBS network.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Broadcast date: 1974/75
Radio DJ, talk show host, actor and TV presenter George was notorious for his "combative" style of interviewing. Often having guests physically ejected by security guards. Operated as a DJ in California from 1969 with his own show before moving to TV in 1972 as producer and co-host of The Sam Yorty Show. Father of actress Rebecca De Mornay. Jimmy reportedly appeared on Wally George's Hollywood Showcase, though no further information is known of this and searching for the show itself has been fruitless. Possibly the Hollywood Showcase was a segment within another, differently titled, show.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Broadcast date: August/September 1976
First broadcast in the afternoon from June 1976 to July 1978, best remembered for its absurd humor and style, The Gong Show, hosted by George Barris, often awarded participants ridiculous prizes. Jimmy reportedly gained a respectable score of 27 points out of 30, taking first place and a prize of $516.32. Sang only one song, the Wayne Newton hit:
Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast
Rumours seemed to indicate that Jimmy was billed as "Jimmy Hodges" on this show, however his contract for The Gong Show, currently in the hands of a private collector, bears the name "Jimmy Ellis" making the first option seem unlikely.
Making up the judging panel on this show were Jaye P. Morgan, Pat McCormick and Louie Nye. Other participants: Melvin Presar, Wendell and Mary Holmes, Kathy Fields, Matt Idol, Toni Cune, Dale Ramierez and in second place with a score of 20 points, Randy And Sandy Pickman. It seems Jimmy's appearance however was not actually broadcast on air.

Broadcast date: 18th. December 1981
Friday morning, wearing his mask and at the height of his Orion popularity, Jimmy's longest ever known TV appearance. Chattanooga, Tennessee's The Morning Show, introduced by host Judy Corr featured Orion as guest co-presenter with, minus adverts, Jimmy clocking in just over 37 minutes of on screen time.
Wearing his trademark mask (black with his name on bottom right), a grey/blue shirt with dark western style waistcoat and dark pants he accompanied the host seated behind a desk, clock on the wall behind and another clock and a board in front with the daily temerature. Answering the usual questions about the mask and voice similarity to Elvis with viewer phone-ins he promoted his upcoming live appearance and his FRESH album. Then left his seat and mimed to his hit record while sitting on a stool with what appeared to be a window and household curtains in the background before returning to his seat and closing the show.
Only one track:
Ebony Eyes

Broadcast date: Summer 1982
Regional TV station broadcast. Wearing his black/floral mask and short sleeved dark blue shirt with white breast pockets Jimmy (Orion) mimed in front of a large framed wall picture.
One song:
Morning, Noon And Night
The programme also included a lengthy interview before the song with Orion mentioning his barn party event on July 24th, his upcoming album, the Elvis comparison and explained about his mask gimmick.  
An unusual interview as the presenter, Geri Eltie, despite introducing him as Orion, clearly called Jimmy by his Christian name.
At the end of the interview not realising the camera was still rolling and the show was still being broadcast, the presenter removed both her own and Jimmy's microphones and Jimmy removed his mask revealing his true identity to the viewers.

Broadcast date: 1985
Nashville based magazine type TV show. Mustached presenter wearing suit and tie introduces Orion, mentions he has signed with Kardina Records and says they had "a blast" at rehearsals. Wearing white shirt, blue jeans, black blazer, no mask and sporting long dark hair Jimmy is revealed standing in front of his band, pianist and two backing vocalists. Launches straight into first song:
Followed by the presenter stating he'll be back later to sing his new single and we'll hear the story behind the mask.
Presenter appears once again in another part of the show and announces Orion will sing his new release. Still dressed as before Jimmy, with his backing musicians/vocalists behind him, performs his second song:  
I'm Saving Up My Pennies
Jimmy then walks over to seated area to join the presenter. The band gets a mention and shows Boomer Castleman walking off stage waving. Matt Smith is mentioned along with the backing vocalists who say a few words. Then follows a talk about Sun Records and the Duets album. Jimmy mentions that both David Alan Coe and Billy Walker started their careers wearing a mask. Talks about appearing with Kiss and Dionne Warwick and his new record label.

Broadcast date: 10th. July 1985
Host Ralph Emery introduced this award winning television talk show which focused on country music performers. Broadcasting each weeknight on The Nashville Network (TNN), a channel which launched just two days after the better known Country Music Television (CMT), it ran from March 1983 to 1993 and starred some of the biggest names in the country music field. This particular Wednesday night show was very much a Loretta Lynn themed night and she guest starred along with Amy Grant and Orion.
A question and answer session featured in the show and questions were asked of all three guests by members of the audience and by phone-in viewers, Jimmy being asked by a caller if anyone had ever noticed how similar his voice was to Elvis' voice.
On this, Jimmy's first appearance, and billed as Orion, he took part in a discussion with the host, explaining how he managed to adopt the name Orion, his relationship with Shelby Singleton and why he wore the trademark mask. Dressed in light blue shirt, blue jacket and dark trousers it would have been easy not to recognise him as he sported a mustache and long dark blonde hair. Performed two songs in separate parts of the show:
100 Pounds Of Clay
Out Of My Life

Broadcast date: 1st. June 1987
Monday evening and Ralph Emery again introduces Jimmy but this time, his second appearance on TNN's flagship show Nashville Now, using his real name. With short dark hair and black shirt, pants and black jacket with silver trim, it was a totally new style compared to his previous appearance on the show. Again Jimmy explained the reason why he adopted the name Orion. Two songs:
Sunday Father
Off The Deep End
In between songs Jimmy joined other guests on the couch. Fellow guests, Razzy Bailey, Melba Montgomery, Lee Dillard and Lenny Dee listened as Jimmy filled the host in on the details of his recent shooting incident and reassured viewers he was fully recovered. On a previous show mention had been made of the incident and Ralph had passed on the viewers good wishes to Jimmy.

Broadcast date: 22nd. June 1987
Introduced as Jimmy Ellis by presenter, Shelly Mangrum, who explains about Jimmy's former name and connection with Sun Records. Then follows an interview where Jimmy, wearing dark red shirt, blue jeans and short black jacket with silver trim, explains his reasons for removing the mask and talks about his new single release. Promotional video for the song then follows:
Sunday Father (Music video only, no interview)
Following the video being shown Jimmy mentions his fan club address, his upcoming tour dates and that he is working on a new album for a new record label. Six minute 40 second spot including the video promo. A nationally syndicated show on The Nashville Network a cable channel now operating under the name Spike in the USA.

Broadcast date: 1989
Most likely another show from TNN's programming. Introduced as Jimmy Ellis by one of two presenters (Vikki & Jerry?) Jimmy, wearing black shirt, pants and same short silver trimmed black jacket worn on previous TV spots, with sleeves turned up, stands alone against a multicoloured backlit stage. With black sunglasses on his face he performs one song:
(Thank God For) America
On the same show, wearing the same outfit, but with a different stage background featuring a couple of window arches each with a poster declaring "Vikki & Jerry's Country Showcase" Jimmy performs one more song:
Mr. Me Misses You

Ted Mack title
Ted Mack's Amateur Hour
No footage available

Wally George
Wally George's Hollywood Showcase
No footage available.

The Gong Show title
The Gong Show
No footage available.

The Morning Show
The Morning Show

Speak Easy
Speak Easy

Channel 4
Channel 4 Show

Nashville Now 1985
Nashville Now 1985

Nashville Now 1987
Nashville Now 1987

Video Country
Video Country

TV Country 1989.
TV Country

Plus various news reports and promos on CNN and other local news channels. Most reports would feature a short interview with Orion, conversations with fans and footage of him performing live.

News Report 1
News Report 2
News Report 3

Special thanks to the original You Tube uploaders.

Back to content