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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. van Ost---Here's Morgan: The Way It Was, 31 March

1915: A BARB IS BORN---It may prove the last time old-time radio's eventual most shameless iconoclast ("If Fred Allen bit the hand that fed him," historian Gerald Nachman will recall in due course, [he] tried to bite off the whole arm") gets any kind slap without even thinking about slapping back.

Neither, alas, is the newborn's birthcry, "Good evening, anybody, here's Morgan."

For one thing, he is born Henry Lerner van Ost, Jr. For another, he will require a quarter century at least before Kate Smith annoys him enough to hit her "Hello, everybody!" back with that tagline, after having a snippet of her theme song played on something made to sound like a circus calliope.

I'd like to clear up something before Mother's Day, something that's been bothering me for about twenty-five years---it's Mother. M-O-T-H-E-R, Mama. I met a kid one day when I was a moppet, and he said something about waiting for his mother. We were standing on the street corner. That was the first I realised I wasn't the only squirt with a mother. Since I'd always called my mother, "Mother," I couldn't understand how this strange kid with a funny hat could have Mother, too.

---Henry Morgan, "Clearing Things Up Before Mother's Day," Here's Morgan, 7 May 1942.

He was a masochist, a neurotic man. When things were going well for him, he would do something to destroy himself. He just couldn't deal with success. He'd had an unhappy childhood that warped him a little and gave him a sour outlook on life.

---Arnold Stang, second banana on 1946-49's The Henry Morgan Show.

---He was ahead of his time but he was also hurt by his own disposition. He was very difficult. He was so brilliant that he'd get exasperated and he'd sulk. He was a great mind who never achieved the success he should have.

---Ed Herlihy, veteran old-time radio announcer and a longtime Morgan friend.

DEAR MORGAN THERE ARE ASYLUMS YOU TAKE THE HIGH COMEDY ROAD ILL TAKE THE LOW COMEDY ROAD IF YOU GET THERE BEFORE I PUT IN A GOOD WORD FOR ME LIKE YOU DID ON YOUR PROGRAM TONIGHT THANKS VERY MUCH RED SKELTON

---Telegram sent to the comedian through ABC, 27 November 1946.

CHANNEL SURFING . . .

1950: THE IVY CHAMBER MUSIC AND KNOCKWURST SOCIETY---Such is the extracurricular brainchild of music-minded faculty who hope Dr. Hall (Ronald Colman) and his pickle flute---which amuses Victoria (Benita Hume Colman) when his attempts to serenade her are interrupted constantly---will join their founding ranks, on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC.) Additional cast: Gloria Gordon, Alan Reed, Frank Martin, Cliff Arquette. Writers: Don Quinn, Walter Brown Newman.

PREMIERING TODAY

1908---Les Damon (actor: The Adventures of the Thin Man, The Falcon), Providence, Rhode Island; Red Norvo (as Kenneth Norville; jazz xylophonist/vibraphonist: Bughouse Rhythm, The Mildred Bailey Show, The Woody Herman Show), Beardstown, Illinois.
1918---Charles Russell (actor: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar), New York City.
1922---Richard Kiley (actor: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Chicago.
1928---Lefty Frizzell (as William Orville Frizzell; singer: Grand Ole Opry, Louisiana Hayride), Corsicana, Texas.
1933---Anita Carter (singer, The Carter Family: Country Music Time, Grand Ole Opry), Maces Springs, Virginia.
1934---Shirley Jones (singer/actress, Calling All Hearts), Smithton, Pennsylvania.

5 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Godfrey said...

Thanks for post about Henry Morgan. Little is known about him and the quotes about him give an idea of what kind of person he was.

Andrew Godfrey

7:37 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

I'm reading his own memoir now, Here's Morgan: The Original Bad Boy of Broadcasting---I found it in a used book store. I'm barely through the first chapter and I'm wondering already just how much of it will turn out to be making his own life an absurdist satire. He was probably a likeable enough fellow with a few too many chips on his shoulders, not all of them of his own making . . .

10:36 AM  
Blogger Ivan G. said...

I have to be honest--I was disappointed with Morgan's biography. He seems to go out of his way to discuss radio, preferring to chat about all the trips he took (as Bugs Bunny once said: "Oh, the places I've been and the things I've seen...").

A scholarly book discussing the work of one of the best radio comedians of all time ("Hello, anybody--here's Morgan...") is still waiting in the wings.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Since I haven't gotten very far in my own reading of Here's Morgan, I'm not in any position to judge the full book just yet. But I suppose that, all things considered, Morgan might have considered his radio career the comparatively brief portion of his life that it turned out to be, however transcendent his radio work was, and addressed it as such. I'll know soon enough. Though I do wish more installments of his radio shows had survived . . .

8:49 AM  
Blogger ajmilner said...

I think Keith Olbermann and Harry Shearer are two of Morgan's heirs -- both in their sardonic on-air personas and in their fights with network management.

Morgan, incidentally, was a cousin of "My Fair Lady" lyricist Alan Jay Lerner -- he wasn't terribly well-adjusted, either.

3:04 PM  

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