Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.
---broadcastellan.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Between Innings

Somewhere in the middle of watching and recording baseball's postseason revues (the Detroit Tigers kicked the Oakland Athletics to the curb and down the manholes; the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals have no intention of going that gently into that hard day's night), I managed nevertheless to catch up with a little classic radio listening. Enough to jot down a few random thoughts between now and my next serious logic chop.

▲ I'm still trying to determine the point at which Judy Canova became somebody's brilliant inspiration for The Beverly Hillbillies. When all was said and done, she was genuinely funny. (She was also, if you took a second look, a very attractive lady.)

▲ There seems no sensible reason for Milton Berle's broadcasting career, if you don't count how many people who finally made him a television hit forgot his schtick was even less intelligible than their imagination.

▲ There seems as much reason for anyone to have thought Red Skelton belonged on radio, when much is said and much is done. He was actually very good on radio, more often than not, but television was made for him. You could add that Skelton outlasted Milton Berle, but that would compare to a musician outlasting Arthur Godfrey.

I'd say some more nice things about Red Skelton, but he hated giving writers credit. And as a writer I resemble that.

▲ Anybody who bought records by Kenny Baker had no business questioning Johnnie Ray's musical credentials. Come to think of it, anybody who bought Johnnie Ray's records had no business questioning Elvis Presley's.

▲ Anyone who bought Guy Lombardo's records had no business calling Wayne King the Western Hemisphere's monopolist of schlock.

▲ Between them, moreover, Guy Lombardo and Wayne King were the best evidence (if you don't count Henry Morgan) for the defence of Spike Jones.

▲ Warner Brothers should have been hauled before the Kefauver Committee for freezing Kenny Delmar out of his right to perpetuate Senator Claghorn without their express permission.

Mel Blanc's short-lived radio sitcom made one drastic mistake above all. He'd have been more believable as a salesman, not a repairman.

Ozzie and Harriet weren't half as funny on their own sitcom as they were renting a room to Fred Allen.

▲ I agree. The Hummerts should have been tried by jury for murder if they were the ones who insisted on turning Lorenzo Jones from a comic serial into the unintended founding father of the type of exaggerated doom-crime-and-disaster soap personified by General Hospital come the 1980s.

▲ There is still something missing in the world when Red Barber is no longer on this island earth to call a baseball game, or talk about his garden, or anything about which Bob Edwards saw fit to ask. And there's been no valid reason to give NPR's Morning Edition the proper time of day since Mr. Barber went from our catbird seat to God's.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ivan G. said...

Berle once remarked that for a person who wasn't a hit on radio, he always seemed to have a show on the air. Not long ago, I became a convert to his 1947-48 NBC series, simply because it's funny and extremely well-written (by Nat Hiken and Aaron Ruben, in the early stages of their careers). Berle also observed that his subsequent radio series, The Texaco Star Theater, was even better--I recently purchased the almost-complete run of this show from OTR dealer Jerry Haendiges, and have plans to post an essay about it...as soon as I get around to listening to the shows.

As for Red Skelton's career--I preferred him on radio as opposed to television...simply because his gallery of grotesques work better in an aural medium. (When he did "Junior" on TV, for example, he looked like a guy caught in the throes of arrested development.)

Finally, I chuckled with recognition at your mention of the Nelsons' appearance on The Fred Allen Show, one of my very favorite Allen broadcasts. I think Ozzie and Harriet did their best work with big-time guest stars: their December 1948 show with Bing Crosby is a particular delight.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Ivan---It's a pleasure to meet you at last. I've been a fan of yours for awhile now. I'm trying to get back in a consistent posting groove after baseball's postseason (I write for a couple of sports Websites, too) and life in general got too much in the way of my radio writing. I agree with you about how the Mean Widdle Kid played on television---I always thought that, on radio, the MWK was Red Skelton's best aural routine. I used to wonder what might happen if the Mean Widdle Kid ever tangled with radio's original mean widdle kid, Baby Snooks . . . ---Jeff

2:40 PM  

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