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, April 04, 2007

Nothing Today, The Well's Dry: The Way It Was, 4 April

H. Allen Smith, a wit with a shameless friendliness to classic radio, once composed a book called How to Write Without Knowing Nothing. (Among other delights, the essays within include a charming review of baseball legend Dizzy Dean's language-mangling sportcasting charm and the vintage sinful syntax of radio near-legend F. Chase Taylor, known better as Col. Lemuel Stoopnagle.) Easy for him to say and execute. I'd have liked to see him write Nothing Today, the Well's Dry.

Anyone can write without knowing nothing, and an awful lot of writers do. Writing when there's nothing to say---that takes genius.

Don't strike my Einstein award just yet.

"Nothing today, the well's dry." That's what Eric Sevareid would tell Walter Cronkite on such nights as he felt nothing compelling him to deliver one of his brief but regular commentaries on the ancient CBS Evening News. Clearly enough, Sevareid was a man who didn't believe in writing or speaking when he had nothing in particular to say. A malady many wish a lot of lesser writers and speakers would catch.

Well, in terms of old-time radio milestones, earth-shattering events and developments, scandals, signficances, or sayonaras, 4 April is a date for writing without knowing nothing. Except that, in my case, I'm having my Sevareid moment. Nothing today, the well's dry. Except for a small pocket of happy birthdays and CBS Radio going all news in 1973. (I gave The Bickersons a full tilt review last week, so sorry, Miss Langford, but there's such a thing as the saturation factor. So we'll say happy birthday in heaven and leave it there.)

And every day doesn't have to be marked by a milestone, an earth-shattering development, a significance, a sayonara, or even a scandal. There's nothing wrong with forgetting the foregoing on behalf of one day or night of nothing but kicking back, flipping on the Philco (well, the MP3 files, but let's not get technical), and just doing a little . . .


1935: LUM FALLS IN LOVE WITH ZENORA---Abner (Norris Goff) and Squire (also Goff) get a mild surprise when Lum (Chester Lauck) suddenly wants to travel more with the circus after all . . . and the reason is a rather comely bareback rider who's just joined the show, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (CBS.)

Also Grandpappy Spears: Chester Lauck. Also Dick Huddleston: Norris Goff. Writers: Chester Lauck and Norris Goff.

1937: BACK FROM NEW YORK---Jack (Benny) marvels over spring in Los Angeles following a jaunt to New York (and an anti-climax in his feud with Fred Allen), Mary (Livingstone) brags about her garden and her technique for growing mashed potatoes, Don (Wilson) mangles his ranch into a Jell-O spot, and Phil (Harris) snorts at the whole gardening idea---while Jack's the only one who doesn't think Allen mopped the floor with him in New York when Phil lets him in on a little secret, until he thinks the bandleader's stirring up trouble, on The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Music: Phil Harris and His Orchestra, Kenny Baker. Writers: Milt Josefsberg, Nat Perrin, John Tackaberry.

1940: RUSH MUST MAKE A CALL---Rush (Bill Idelson) is mildly antsy: he's only going over to study algebra with a girl his buddies think is his big romance---and they're scoping the house hoping to stalk the great lover, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Sade: Bernadine Flynn. Vic: Art Van Harvey. Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1946: POST MORTEM---A remarried former actress (Agnes Moorehead), roused from a lavish bath run by her romantic second husband, is stunned when news photographers and reporters barge into her home with the news that her late first husband, whose gambling displeased her, bought a sweepstakes ticket in her name---a winning ticket, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Steven Archer: Joseph Kearns. Writer/editor/director: William Spear.


1889---Dorothy Gordon (moderator: Dorothy Gordon's Youth Forum), Odessa.
1898---Lee Tracy (actor: Martin Kane, Private Detective), Atlanta.
1901---Gay Seabrook (actress: The Joe Penner Show), Seattle.
1902---Bernice Berwin (actress: One Man's Family), San Francisco.
1904---John Brown (comedian/actor: Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen, The Life of Riley, A Date with Judy, My Friend Irma), Hull, U.K.; Martin Wolfson (actor: Into the Light), New York City.
1906---Bea Benaderet (actress/comedienne: The Burns and Allen Show, The Great Gildersleeve, The Jack Benny Program, A Date with Judy, My Favourite Husband), New York City.
1914---Richard Coogan (actor: Young Doctor Malone, Abie's Irish Rose), Short Hills, New Jersey; Frances Langford (singer/comedienne: Drene Time, The Bickersons, The Frances Langford Show, The Bob Hope Show, Lux Radio Theater), Lakeland, Florida.
1932---Anthony Perkins (actor: Guest Star), New York City.
1938---Susan Luckey (actress: One Man's Family), unknown.


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