August 01, 1988 12:00 PM



While they’re being marketed as gifts for people born, married or whatever in the relevant year, these half-hour tapes are nostalgia for any occasion. They’re least entertaining when host Robert Klein, hokily emulating radio announcers of the stentorian 1938 and wacky-hip 1958 varieties, reads historical tidbits. It’s far more amusing to see 1938 newsreel footage of Howard Hughes (apologizing for delaying a press conference: “It’s not because I’m high hat or anything like that”) or Franklin Roosevelt giving a speech in which he seems to discount the possibility of war. The 1958 clips show such figures as Churchill, Eisenhower, de Gaulle, Khrushchev and Castro, as well as Hula-Hoops, Elvis joining the Army and a bit with Mickey Rooney, staring into Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage, saying, “Who wants to be tall?” Each tape ends with a crawl showing the year’s events day-by-day; the birthdate of Connie Stevens and July 31, 1938, when Bulgaria was allowed to rearm, are highlights. (Halcyon Days, $19.95 apiece; 1920s and 1948 also available; 800-777-9494)

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