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, May 07, 2007

Slouching Toward V-E Day: The Way It Was, 7 May

1945---With Hitler dead, the Nazi government in rump condition at best ("The Third Reich," William L. Shirer will write in due course, "will survive the death of its founder by ten days"), and German forces surrendered in all but the formal, official, once-and-for-all announcement from the Allies, it is now a question of if, not when the world can celebrate V-E Day.

As you might expect, old-time radio clings just as tenaciously to the question. And, as things turn out, at least one wire reporter clings firmly enough that he jumps the gun before anyone else---the supreme Allied military commanders and their respective chiefs of state come to mind immediately---is prepared to make it official, especially with a pocket or two of leftover fighting still to dissipate entirely.

It was something like pulling the corks before the champagne was certifiable as cold. But in one way you probably couldn't blame him . . .

"NO STRINGS ATTACHED"---The NBC bulletin, based on official word from San Francisco, of the unconditional German surrender to the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

" . . . WILL BE REGARDED AS A HOLIDAY"---With the toll of Big Ben as his haunting introduction, John Snagge of the BBC Home Service announces the possible formal announcement of Victory in Europe Day the following day.

"NOT UNTIL TOMORROW"---President Truman---who will make his announcement before a joint session of Congress---agrees with London and Moscow that their heads of state will not announce the formal end of the war in Europe until the three can make it simultaneous.

Recorded from an affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, this CBS News report cites Edward R. Murrow's note that Truman and Churchill were prepared to announce but Stalin, delayed in transit, was not.

Then comes the word of a soon-to-be-famous early Associated Press report by Edward J. Kennedy, detailing the surrender and V-E Day designation. The good news is that Kennedy has it nailed down cold. The bad news is that he jumped the gun on releasing the story, causing a mild uproar among Allied forces and the press wires alike, not to mention citizens around the world who've been waiting only too long to celebrate an end to the war in Europe.

The premature AP report (it gets the AP's filing privileges suspended for a brief period out of Supreme Allied Headquarters, prompting a mild debate on press freedom and responsibility) nearly obscures a report on U.S. Third Army forces nearing Prague, Czechoslovakia, and reports of isolated, lingering fighting as the war in Europe winds down . . .

"A LAMENTABLE DAY"---Mutual Broadcasting System flagship WOR's on-the-money analysis of the Kennedy/AP gaffe, the premature (but not inaccurate) V-E Day dispatch.

The report also describes Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army (specifically, the fourth armoured division) approaching Prague, to rescue a citizen army from lingering German fighting defying Doenitz's surrender orders; remaining German forces in Norway preparing for internment in Sweden; and Allied landings in Scandinavia, all to help wind the war down and shut.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces advance in Okinawa and elsewhere in the continuing war in the Pacific. And Congressional Republicans fail to block Democratic National Committee chairman Robert E. Hannigen---like Truman a product of Kansas City's infamous Pendergast political machine---as the next U.S. Postmaster General fails.


1941: A REALLY SOLID TENNESSEE EXCURSION---Trombonist/bandleader Glenn Miller---who orients much of his working schedule around his regular radio performances---records the song that becomes perhaps his second signature song (behind "Moonlight Serenade," of course), "Chattanooga Choo-Choo." Miller and company cut the Mack Gordon-Harry Warren composition just over three months after the bandleader signed what was the most lucrative recording contract to date---$750 per side/song with RCA Victor Records.

The label's faith will be justified soon enough: Come 29 November 1941, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" will knock Freddy Martin and His Orchestra out of the number one hole on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores survey and hog the position for the rest of the calendar year.


1942: CLEARING THINGS UP BEFORE MOTHER'S DAY---Clarifying motherhood and other cheerfully insane observations, musings, and indulgences, on tonight's edition of Here's Morgan. (Mutual.)

Writer, such as he was (since more than half the show was ad-libbed): Henry Morgan.

1944: THE CAMPAIGN HEATS UP---Relaxing in his water commission office, Gildersleeve's (Harold Peary) reverie over a letter from Eve (Bea Benaderet) is rudely interrupted by a blaring reminder that a mayoral campaign doesn't take time off even for the first day of spring, especially when Peavey (Richard LeGrand) won't take down his drugstore window sign endorsing the incumbent, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Hooker: Earle Ross. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Writers: Sam Moore, John Whedon.

1947: SALUTE TO THE OLD SCHOOL---Modern, progressive education may never recover---and neither might the sponsor ("The Eversharp Schick Injector Blade . . . it's educational---try one, that'll teach you"), after tonight's edition of The Henry Morgan Show. (ABC.)

Additional cast: Arnold Stang, Florence Halop, Madeline Lee, possibly Art Carney. Music: Bernie Green and His Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Joe Stein, Aaron Ruben, Carroll Moore, Jr.


1884---Gloria Gordon (actress: My Friend Irma; The Halls of Ivy), unknown.
1885---Gabby Hayes (as George Hayes; actor: The Andrews Sisters' Eight to the Bar Ranch; The Roy Rogers Show), Wellsville, New York.
1892---Archibald MacLeish (writer: Columbia Workshop), Glencoe, Illinois.
1900---Ralph Truman (actor: BBC Home Theatre), London.
1901---Gary Cooper (as Frank James Cooper; actor: Lux Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater; Family Theater), Helena, Montana.
1906---Jack Johnstone (writer/producer/director: Buck Rogers; CBS Radio Workshop), unknown.
1908---Edmund MacDonald (actor: Big Town; Murder Will Out; Old Gold Comedy Theater; Box 13), Massachussetts.
1915---Win Elliot (sports announcer, emcee: Fish Pond; County Fair; Quick as a Flash), Chelsea, Massachussetts.
1923---Anne Baxter (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Michigan City, Indiana.
1931---Teresa Brewer (as Theresa Breuer; singer: Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour; The Steve Allen Show, Toledo, Ohio.


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