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.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"Yoo-Hoo! Is Anybody?": The Way It Was, 17 January

1949---Having enjoyed a seventeen-year radio life, and three years after it finished its radio run in favour of a Broadway adaptation (Molly and Me), The Goldbergs graduates to television, on CBS---after creator/chief writer/star Gertrude Berg has to convince network executives that the longtime favourite was workable on the small screen.

As on radio and stage, Gertrude Berg---the show’s creator, chief writer, and star---plays Molly Goldberg, whom Bud Collyer (under his given name, Clayton) had introduced on radio as having “a place in every heart, and a finger in every pie.” On television, however, she is joined by a new husband Jake, Philip Loeb. The family---Jake, Molly, and children Sammy and Rosalie---is moved back to the Bronx, after having moved to the suburbs of Connecticut at the height of the radio original’s influence and popularity. And, Sammy and Rosalie are cast once again as teenagers, despite having matured into married adults on radio---and Berg almost looking (and almost sounding) old enough to be their grandmother. Almost.

A pioneering serial comedy on radio, The Goldbergs on television will become a more conventional situation comedy as the world will come to know it. Sometimes, it will blur the line between comedy and drama; other times, it will allow the drama govern the episode with the comedy seeming almost incidental.

As one of the earliest such television offerings, however, The Goldbergs will prove the format’s viability. But it will pay a certain price to do so: Despite the universally appealing situations depicted (as had been done in the radio years, a major factor in the show's popularity), the show’s unapologetic ethnicity, and its gently unmistakeable tension between ethnic/religious grounding and social assimilation, will make it anomalous by the end of its television run, as television inclines more toward portraying actual or alleged suburban homogeneity, an incline that endures for the better part of a decade.

The rest of the original television cast: Larry Robinson (as son Sammy), Arlene McQuade (as daughter Rosalie), and Eli Mintz (as Uncle David). Berg, McQuade, and Mintz will be the only cast members to stay with the show for its entire television life.


1937: A STEPMOTHER WHO TRIED---And, who is introduced thus: "Can a stepmother successfully raise another woman's children? Colgate All-Purpose Tooth Powder presents the real life story of Kay Fairchild, a stepmother who tried."

Presented as a soap opera, Kay Fairchild, Stepmother premieres on CBS, from Chicago, starring Sunda Love and, later, Janet Logan, in the title role; and, Francis X. Bushman, Bill Green, Charles Penman, and Willard Waterman playing husband and Walnut Grove mayor John Fairchild.

The stories will center around Kay Fairchild's effort to raise her husband's daughter, Peggy, while contending with husband John's struggles against a political machine almost constantly trying to compromise his mayoral administration. Thirteen episodes, from between late July 1940 and late August 1941, will be known to survive* for future radio collectors.

* - A fourteenth episode, from 1939, is known to survive as well, in the middle of a block with historical significance: Kay Fairchild, Stepmother was one of the regularly-scheduled offerings when WJSV, a Washington (D.C.) CBS affiliate, decided to record its entire broadcast day of 21 September 1939. Kay Fairchild, Stepmother will air at the end of a broadcast hour (9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Eastern standard time) that includes, in order, Pretty Kitty Kelly, Myrt & Marge, and Hilltop House.

1945: "THANK YOU, HARRY VON SO FORTH, FOR THAT SO-SO INTRODUCTION---Gloria DeHaven (singing "I'm In The Mood For Love"); a jazz trio of Gene Krupa, Charlie Ventura, and Teddy Napoleon (playing a remarkable "Stompin' at the Savoy"); and, Ida Lupino, Robert Benchley, and Groucho making mischief with Double Indemnity, highlight tonight's edition of Mail Call. (Armed Forces Radio Service; this is a series designed exclusively for American troops fighting World War II in which shows were cobbled together largely based upon their entertainment requests. The "Harry Von So Forth" crack, perhaps needless to say, refers to the show's announcer, Harry Von Zell.)

1948: PROMISES, PROMISES---Eddie Cantor, running for President, has promised Judy a movie career if she gets him the votes from Cactus Junction. "A radio comedian for President?" asks Geranium, who seems to have slept through Gracie Allen's 1940 campaign, on tonight's edition of The Judy Canova Show. (NBC.)


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