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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jesus Christ, Radio Star: The Way It Was, 26 January

1947---The Greatest Story Ever Told---a radio series presenting dramatisations of the stories, sayings, and parables of Jesus Christ---premieres on ABC, sponsored by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and starring Warren Parker as Jesus.

The series is based on the best-seller by Fulton Oursler (an editor of the original Liberty magazine), and it will enjoy a ten-year life, with its first Christmas episode, "No Room at the Inn" (first broadcast 19 December 1947) becoming its annual Christmas episode, and the final series broadcast airing 30 December 1956.

During its tenure on the air this program featured most of the regular New York dramatic radio actors; the only continuing role is that of Jesus. The sound effects were particularly unique. Instead of modern footsteps, for instance, the sound of sandals had to be employed; and, unusual door effects had to be devised since there were no doors with modern latches and hinges in Biblical times.

---Frank Buxton and Bill Owen, The Big Broadcast 1920-1950. (New York: Avon, 1971.)

Henry Denker writes the show’s scripts in an understated yet firmly dramatic style and co-directs the episodes with Mark Loeb. Terry Ross handles the sound effects, and Jacques Belasco directs the music (a small orchestra and sixteen-voice chorale).

Goodyear’s sponsorship, however, is announced only once a program---at the end of each episode, by announcer Norman Rose: "The Greatest Story Ever Told has been brought to you by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company." That’s it. There is no commercial advertisement during any episode of the series otherwise.

At least 46 episodes have been known to survive, including "The Prodigal Son," "The Parable of the Lost Coin," "And Her Name Was Mary," and "Ye That Are Heavy Laden." Several of these, however, survive by way of Armed Forces Radio Service transcription discs.

Warren Parker will make a few more radio appearances during the final decade of network radio as it was known, including "A Gun For Dinosaur," an episode of the science fiction series X Minus One.


1941: PEN PAL---A misinterpreted newspaper ad moves a female pen pal to congratulate Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (Ezra Stone) on his nonexistent marriage. And Henry fears answering the letter---as Alice (Kathleen Raht) and Sam (House Jameson) insist he do---will cause even more complications . . . especially with his actual girl friend, on tonight's edition of The Aldrich Family. (NBC.)

1944: THE MATRIMONIAL AGENCY---Which is what Lou's (Costello) rhapsodising over his cousin Hugo's wedding ("Just think: his ration book . . . her ration book . . . side by side . . . ") inspires Bud (Abbott) to suggest as an investment for Lou's $75 in savings, on tonight's edition of The Abbott & Costello Show. (NBC.)

1953: THE BLACK FIGURINE OF DEATH---The figurine figures disturbingly, after a neglected old man---who thinks his niece and nephew care nothing about him---dies after warning them inheriting his estate is something they'll regret . . . which they might, when they learn the condition of their inheritance and discover a corpse whose murder was unsolved, on tonight's edition of The Hall of Fantasy. (Mutual.) Stars: Richard Thone (who also created, wrote, and directed the series), Eloise Kummer.


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