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.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sid Raymond, RIP: Spirit Trumping Stardom

This is not to suggest that having yourself a Duffy's Tavern mini-marathon is a terrible thing, but listening end-to-end to every known available episode from 1950 through the show's finale in search of the missing credit can be slightly less arduous than one or another comely female having to wriggle away from amorous Archie's malaproper advances.

Such is true, as well, in listening to every known available episode of the show prior to 1950, above and beyond Ed Gardner and/or the evening's particular guest star(s). If the cast credits were ever announced you could miss it as readily as you might miss the sentence for which Archie could not have been tried by jury for raping the Queen's English.

For the obituaries' claim that he took the role on, we are left with no sourcing beyond our ears that Sid Raymond---whose death at age 97 seemed to stun those close enough to him in light of his reputation for unsapped energy---succeeded the estimable Charlie Cantor as the quick of mangle and slow of wit Finnegan.

And our ears require us to play a shaft of post-1950 Finnegan against a shaft of Baby Huey, the outsized duckling for whose voice Mr. Raymond seems remembered best, concluding that the earshot match of cadence, inflection, and duerrrrrrr! bewilderment shared between Finnegan the barfly post-1950 and Huey the baby from post to Pablum could not have been plotted by separate palates.

FINNEGAN: Hey, waiddaminute, Misteh Hahdwick, derr-I got an idea!
CEDRIC HARDWICKE: Well, shake your head, and maybe it'll go away.
FINNEGAN: Look, deh, I'm wonderin'--deh, ain't there a spot for a guy like me in Hollywood?
HARDWICKE: No, I'm afraid not. We have enough producers
FINNEGAN: Welp---deh, if there's ever an opening---
ARCHIE: If there's ever an opening it'll be in ya head.

---Duffy's Tavern, from "Renting a Room" (a.k.a. "The Roommate." Original broadcast: CBS, 10 November 1951)

You can do likewise between Finnegan post-1950 and Katnip---the witless cat outwitted almost as a profession (Hellllp! Uncle Hoiman! his “nephews” invariably hollered) by a mouse named Herman, whose voice resembled Curly Stooge but whose smarts (Herman did tend to telegraph his rejoinders and counterattacks) only looked that way compared to Katnip's clumsy mouse trapping.

Duerrrrrrr, that was him, all right.

Surely it is sweeter to recall Mr. Raymond as the slow-but-sweet Finnegan, but it is also right to recall him as Heckle and Jeckle, the talking cartoon magpies who resembled crows more than magpies. And, to recall that he was one of the hardest working vocal men you almost never heard of.

An inspiration for anyone who has ever clung to a passion, Sid Raymond concedes that, as an actor, he was never a star. But in the context of an enduring spirit, fame seems somehow beside the point.

---Howard Weinberg, producer of Sid at 90.

There are worse things than a passion to which to cling.


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