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, November 06, 2007

. . . But He's Gotta Clean That Closet One of These Days: The Way It Was, 6 November

1896: 'TAIN'T FUNNY, MA AND PA JORDAN---Not until this Peoria farm couple's newborn son, Jim, grows up to become one of old-time radio's best-loved future comedians . . . though he'll have to grow up to marry church choir sweetheart Marian Driscoll and, after struggling in vaudeville, move to Chicago and radio and---after numerous short starts---develop (with writer/partner Don Quinn) the Smackout characters that evolve from a small general store to 79 Wistful Vista and Fibber McGee & Molly.

No twosome was more perfectly attuned to middle-class 1930s sensibilities . . . The show, which seamlessly blended vaudeville high-jinks with radio's cozier atmospherics, came along at the right time---a home remedy for a shaken, insecure, Depression-era America that needed reassuring that its values were still intact, alive and well at 79 Wistful Vista.

---Gerald Nachman, in "Nesting Instincts," from Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

I said it in honour of his departing this island earth, and I will say it one more time to honour his having granted us the honour of his work and wit:

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.


1901: FAIR JUANITA---Juanita Hall---blues singer turned Tony-winning actress turned lead actress in old-time radio's first black-oriented and all-black-cast soap opera, The Story of Ruby Valentine, evolved from an earlier CBS soap, We Love and Learn (itself the former As the Twig is Bent) and becoming the most popular offering on the short-lived but groundbreaking National Negro Network---is born in Keyport, New Jersey.

When it's transformed to The Story of Ruby Valentine, the soap's anchorage moves from a dress shop to a Harlem beauty salon . . . and the cast will also include another groundbreaking---and award-winning---black actress: Ruby Dee.


1937: FROM THE MANHATTAN ROOM---A particularly bristling set from Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, at the height of their classic period---including such co-stars as Gene Krupa, Bunny Berigan, Vido Musso, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and vocalist Martha Tilton---during tonight's broadcast from the Hotel Pennsylvania's Manhattan Room in New York. (CBS.)

Highlights include: "Let's Dance," "Naughty Boy," "Once In Awhile," "More Than You Know," "You Showed Me The Way," "Blue Skies," "Vieni, Vieni" (Benny Goodman Quartet), "Life Goes to a Party."

1938: THE SHYSTER PAYOFF---Under rising pressure to break up a criminal syndicate spearheaded by a corrupt, politically overconnected attorney, Commissioner Weston (Arthur Vinton) edgily accepts Lamont's (Bill Johnstone) offer to get the proof he needs to break them, on tonight's edition of The Shadow. (Mutual.)

Margot: Agnes Moorehead. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Writers: Unknown.

1944: THE TWIN---A sister's marriage provokes her twin---who falls in love with her prospective brother-in-law---to murder under false pretenses, on tonight's edition of The Whistler. (CBS.)

The Whistler: Joseph Kearns. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Additional cast and writers: Unknown.

1948: FROM THE GRIDIRON BALL, UNION COLLEGE---Schenectady, New York's Union College gets a Gridiron Ball treat and then some: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra---including such co-stars as Cat Anderson, Sonny Greer, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Ray Nance, and vocalists Al Hibbler and Kay Davis---performing live on tonight's edition of The Duke is On The Air. (NBC.)

Hightlights include: "You Oughta," "Don't Be So Mean to Baby," "How You Sound," "Don't Blame Me."

1949: THE TELEVISION TEST---Against his board's and maybe his own better judgment, sponsor Scott (Gale Gordon) ponders bringing Phil (Harris) to television, pending a test Phil and Alice (Faye) aren't so sure he'll pass, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Ann Whitfield. Remley: Elliot Lewis. Willie: Robert North. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris and His Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

1955: THE COUNT CONQUERS BIRDLAND---AGAIN---The second classic edition of Count Basie and His Orchestra---the 1950s edition, spearheaded by Frank Foster and Frank Wess, as musicians, composers, and arrangers---delivers a roundhouse punch of rhythm and solo precision in a vintage remote broadcast from New York's Birdland, on tonight's edition of The All-Star Parade of Bands. (NBC.)

Highlights include: "Soft Drink," "Backstage," "Basie English," "Why Knots."


1886---Gus Kahn (lyricist: Good News of 1938), Koblenz, Germany.
1892---Ole Olsen (comedian, with Olsen and Johnson: The Rudy Vallee Show; The Breakfast Club), Wabash, Indiana.
1896---Frank Readick (actor: Joe Palooka; The Shadow), Seattle.
1899---Francis Lederer (actress: Ellery Queen), Prague.
1904---Selena Royle (actress: Hilda Hope, MD; Portia Faces Life), New York City.
1905---Isabel Crothers (actress: Clara, Lu and Em), Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
1910---Donald Dickson (singer: The Sealtest Party; The Chase and Sanborn Hour; Blue Ribbon Town), Clairton, Pennsylvania.


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