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, April 16, 2007

From Smackout to Wistful Vista: The Way It Was, 16 April

1935---After four years as The Smackouts, two former vaudevillians graduate to new characters, a new sponsor, and practically a new show written by their collaborator Don Quinn.

They're moved from the small general store to a pleasant little home in which the head of the household blusters and blunders his way into and out of schemes and dreams only to be brought down to earth---sometimes with a crash, sometimes with a mere slow burn, and abetted especially by his gently tart but loving wife, to say nothing of a small host of quirky neighbours.

And if it takes five full years to hit complete stride, hit stride they will, their own formidable talent buttressed by Quinn's clever writing and one of old-time radio's most dependably facile supporting casts.

No twosome was more perfectly attuned to middle-class 1930s sensibilities . . . The show, which seamlessly blended vaudeville high-jinks with radio's cozier atmospherics, came along at the right time---a home remedy for a shaken, insecure, Depression-era America that needed reassuring that its values were still intact, alive and well at 79 Wistful Vista.

---Gerald Nachman, in "Nesting Instincts," from Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

And, although the official title won't reflect it for many years hence, you can probably presume that very few of its fans ever addressed or referred to it by its longtime official title: The Johnson Wax Program with Fibber McGee & Molly.


1942: CATCH AS CATCH CAN FRED WARING---Lamenting who has to leave the game before the ninth, Greater Deep in the Heart of Texas Week, and a new game in which the object is to catch a certain bandleader, among other hits and runs on today's edition of Here's Morgan, one of the very few surviving editions of Henry Morgan's earliest radio comedy. (Mutual.)

Writer: Henry Morgan.

1946: THE BASEBALL PLAYER MURDER---A baseball player with no known vices is shot to death while sliding into second with a double . . . in a game before which he was switched in the batting order---and was overheard trying to reach Blackie (Dick Kollmar), who also finds a murdered scoreboard operator later that day and an ancient motive the day after, on tonight's edition of Boston Blackie. (Ziv Syndication.)

Faraday: Maurice Tarplin. Mary: Jan Miner. Shorty: Tony Barrett. Writers: Kenny Lyons, Ralph Rosenberg.

1953: PATIENCE'S ROMANCE---Susan (Irene Dunne) thinks George (Fred MacMurray) may be the intended target when her housekeeper runs a lonelyhearts ad in the Morning Star---until the ad draws at least five replies, on tonight's edition of Bright Star. (NBC.)

Sammy: Possibly Richard Crenna. Writers: Unknown. Announcer: Wendell Niles.

1953: THE FAMILY GETAWAY---It was just an overnight business trip for Jim (Robert Young)---at first, on tonight's edition of Father Knows Best. (NBC.)

Margaret: Dorothy Lovett. Bud: Ted Donaldson. Betty: Rhoda Williams. Kathy: Helen Strom. Writers: Paul West, Roswell Rogers. Announcer: Bill Forman.


1889---Sir Charles Chaplin (actor: Dodge Brothers Hour), London.
1895---Mischa Mischakoff (violinist: NBC Symphony), Proskourov, Russia.
1897---Milton J. Cross (announcer/commentator: The Voice of the Met,General Motors Concerts
1898---Marian Jordan (comedienne: Smackout, Fibber McGee & Molly), Peoria, Illinois.
1913---Les Tremayne (actor: Adventures of the Thin Man, The Falcon), London.
1914---John Hodiak (actor: L’il Abner, The Lone Ranger), Pittsburgh.
1918---Spike Milligan (comedian: The Goon Show), Ahmednagar, India.
1921---Sir Peter Ustinov (actor: Freedom Forum), London.
1924---Henry Mancini (conductor: Family Theater, Voices of Vista), Cleveland.
1930---Herbie Mann (jazz flutist: Voices of Vista), New York.
1931---Edie Adams (singer/comedienne: The Stewart Foster Show), Kingston, Pennsylvania.


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