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, November 11, 2007

Birth of an Icon: The Way It Was, 11 November

1938: BIRTH OF AN ICON---On the twentieth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, stout Kate Smith---one of the nation's top old-time radio stars since 1931, as it is---sings for the first time, on the air, the song with which she will become inextricably identified for just about the rest of her life.

The irony: Its composer had left the song dormant for two decades, following its rejection (as "too jingoistic") for an Army camp show while he served in World War I, before Smith's manager, Ted Collins, reached to him approaching this night's edition of The Kate Smith Hour.

Freshly returned from a trip to England, Berlin accepts Collins' request for a patriotic song Smith can sing on her Armistice Day show, rewrites two portions of the song's lyrics, and delivers it to Smith. Too shy to attend the original broadcast of the performance, Berlin listens in his New York office, instead. And he gets one of the most pleasant shocks of his life after the lady belts it out: His telephone rings off the hook with inquiries for the song.

The calls knock out Berlin's shyness long enough to let him attend the Smith show's performance for West Coast broadcast three hours later . . . where he's nearly smothered by the hostess's bear hug, after she calls him to the studio stage.

The performance becomes such a sensation that Smith will sing "God Bless America" on almost every edition of The Kate Smith Hour through December 1940, before the ASCAP/BMI dispute led to a ban on on-air performances of ASCAP-administered music.


2003: UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, MR. CARNEY---Art Carney dies today in a rest home not far from his Westbrook, Connecticut home. Though remembered best (and appropriately) as Norton in The Honeymooners, and for his late-life film roles (especially his Oscar-winning performance in Harry and Tonto), Carney should also recalled as an old-time radio presence of considerable range.

Carney was a player in the cast companies of Gangbusters and The March of Time, and a regular (usually, as The Athlete) in the acerbic comedy company of The Henry Morgan Show.

His old-time radio work also included Casey, Crime Photographer (crime drama); Dimension X (science fiction); Joe and Ethel Turp (situation comedy); Land of the Lost (children's adventure); and, Lorenzo Jones (comic soap opera).


1928: GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES, TOO---Especially when three radio stations hit the air running: WGL (Fort Wayne, Indiana), WMT (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and WOL (Washington, DC).On this day in 1928 WGL-AM, Fort Wayne, Indiana began broadcasting.


1940: NOTHING SACRED---Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Joan Bennett step in for Frederic March and Carole Lombard in an adaptation of the 1937 film, in which a reporter wrecked by a hoax hopes for redemption in a series about a doomed woman---who's faking her radiation poisoning and falling in love with him, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Ben Hecht, based on the story by James H. Street.

1943: B.B. BAUGH AND STINGERBERRY JAM---Sade (Bernadine Flynn) pries a new business interest out of Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) in a bid to revive slumping Vic (Art Van Harvey) from his after-breakfast seat, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Rush: Johnny Coons. Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1945: CHARLIE THE CHICKEN---The Alley demimonde ponders new inventions, before Fred (Allen) tries to talk guest Monty Woolley out of giving up on radio by swinging him a new crime show, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Moody: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Openshaw: Alan Reed. Music: Al Goodman and his Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Aaron Ruben, Nat Hiken.

1950: THE ADAM KEGG MATTER---Dollar (Edmond O'Brien) wants what the police can't get, when $125,000 in jewels stolen in a burglary turn out insured---by his own employer, on tonight's edition of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. (CBS.)

Cast: Stacy Harris, Lamont Johnson, Jeanette Nolan, Jack Moiles, Hy Averback, Paul Victor, Raymond Burr. Writer: Gil Dowd.


1887---Roland Young (actor: The Adventures of Topper; Johnny Presents), London.
1892---Al Schact (The Clown Prince of Baseball; comedian/sportscaster: Al Schacht's Sports Show), New York City.
1898---Ren Clair (director: Lux Radio Theater), Paris.
1899---Pat O'Brien (actor: Dan Carson; Screen Guild Theater; Family Theater), Milwaukee; Pie Traynor (Harold J. Traynor; Hall of Fame baseball player/sportscaster: KQV, Pittsburgh), Framingham, Massachussetts.
1904---Joe Penner (as Josef Pinter; comedian: The Joe Penner Program; The Penners of Park Avenue), Magybecskereck, Hungary.
1909---Rad Robinson (singer, with the King's Men: Fibber McGee & Molly), Bountiful, Utah; Robert Ryan (actor: Document A/777; Hollywood Star Playhouse; Suspense), Chicago.
1911---Patric Knowles (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Horsforth, Yorkshire, UK.
1918---Stubby Kaye (as Bernard Sholm Kotzin; comedian: The Heartbeat of Broadway), New York City.
1939---Denise Alexander (actress: Big Guy; The Marriage), New York City.


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