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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mr. Wizard, RIP: He Wasn't Just For Television

Donald Herbert, who died Tuesday just a month short of age 90, following a long battle with multiple myeloma, is remembered best as television's Mr. Wizard, explaining science to two generations of Baby Boomers---but he had an old-time radio life prior to launching that remarkable children's edutainment program.

He acted and wrote for Chicago-based radio programs in 1946, after his return from distinguished World War II service (including the Distinguished Flying Cross); he taught radio writing at the Chicago Radio Institute; he was the radio director of the Community Fund of Chicago in 1948; and, in 1949, he became the interviewer and editor of the pre-taped radio program, It's Your Life, a children's health documentary show.

The original Watch Mr. Wizard, born in 1951 on NBC television and living fourteen years, earned a Peabody Award, three Edison Awards, and two Emmy nominations; Herbert revived the show as Mr. Wizard's World on the Nickelodeon cable television network in the 1980s.


NELLIE LUTCHER---Jazz/rhythm and blues vocalist/pianist in Los Angeles, who played piano for blues legend Ma Rainey as an eleven-year-old before making her own name in due course on the city's club circuit in the 1940s and getting her big break when KFWB disc jockey Frank Bull invited her to perform live on a benefit broadcast, a performance that attracted the attention of Capitol Records executive Dave Dexter and landed her a recording contract.

Lutcher's first Capitol session produced her first and biggest hits, "Hurry On Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy," both in 1947. She never had more hits in spite of the praise she received for her cleverly double-entendred songwriting, her unusual style of scat, and her distinctive and exaggerated enunciation; Capitol released her in 1952. She recorded for Epic, Liberty, and Imperial subsequently but by the end of the 1950s she returned to local performing for most of the rest of her life, still remembered best for her 1947 hits.

Lutcher died 8 June of complications of old age, according to a published obituary that noted she was probably 94.

Some historians consider her music one of rock's foundation stones, but Lutcher herself rejected the claim, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune she was "a little bit of jazz, a little rhythm and blues . . . But I don't consider myself anything of rock. Whatever I did I made sure it was something I could restyle, because my whole thing was to give everything a creative, individual touch."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home