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.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

'Tain't Funny, McGee: The Way It Was, 1 April

1988---You can be forgiven if the news strikes you as somebody's idea of a thoroughly tasteless April Fool's joke. You can be forgiven if you think you hear ol' Doc Gamble, through a spasm of laughter. (You've lived with a blood clot in your brains for all these years, O Man from Outer Taste!).

And, you can be forgiven likewise if you believe his beloved wife and partner, long awaiting his return to her, greets Jim Jordan thus, as he passes to his reward today, at age 91: A long, tight embrace; then, her hands thrust to her hips, her foot tapping gently but firmly, the soft frown creasing the firmly pretty face he missed for his final twenty-seven years on this island earth, and the singular, feminine, Midwestern-cured Irish trill.

'Taiiiin't funny, McGee!

Small town without being small or narrowly humoured. A half-dreaming, half-scheming, never malicious husband, brought firmly but gently to earth by a tartly loving wife and a host of neighbours who rattled but never really rolled him. Resplendent enough in the old virtues and verities without collapsing in preachiness or under saccharine or sap, defying and transcending time.

And funnier than hell.


If it seems a little cruel for one of old-time radio's genuine comic greats to be taken from the mortal world on a day set aside particularly for comedy and prankishness, it seems only just that, for whatever this journal is worth, it should yield this year's day of comedy and prankisness to Fibber McGee and Molly alone.

The fact that at least three known April Fool's Day broadcasts will survive for 21st Century listening is, as McGee might say, completely irrevocable.

1941: THE MISSING CAR FENDER---Molly can't get a word in edgewise when she tries to tell Fibber what's missing after she drove Mrs. Uppington (Isabel Randolph) home from the market. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. Harlow Wilcox: Himself. Boomer: Bill Thompson. Little Girl (she isn't always known as Teeny yet): Marian Jordan. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

1947: TRAFFIC CITATIONS AND THE SAFE DRIVING CAMPAIGN---Mayor La Trivia (Gale Gordon) drops in for tea with the McGees while launching a safe driving campaign---and encouraging McGee to stay home until the campaign ends, rather than risk yet another traffic citation . . . such as the one he's getting, even as they speak, even with his car parked in front of his own house. The Maid: Gene Carroll. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Mr. Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Harlow Wilcox: Himself. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie. (Note: This recording includes a break-in for election updates in some city's ward elections . . . )

1952: SELLING UMBRELLAS DURING A HEAT WAVE---If you have to ask, he can probably sell you ice cream in a winter storm. Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Frisbee: Cliff Arquette. Blankentop: Joe Forte. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Mother in Bon Ton Store: Jean Vander Pyl. Boy in Bon Ton Store: Jeff Silver. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writers: Phil Leslie, Keith Fowler.


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