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.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Returning the Favour: The Way It Was, 22 November

1950: JACK BENNY VISITS---In spring 1948, recurring guests Ronald and Benita Hume Colman, playing his neighbours, provided the set-up on The Jack Benny Program for one of the single most hilarious moments in old-time radio history---triggered with the loaning of Colman's Oscar to mildly envious Benny, whom the couple tolerated with bemused weariness . . . and who was mugged while carrying the statuette home.

SFX: (Kitten mewing.)
JACK: (sort of muttering) Got away . . . would have made a wonderful A string.
SFX:(footsteps, JACK humming to himself)
STRANGER: Hey, buddy . . . buddy, got a match?
JACK: (slightly startled) Huh? . . . (pause) . . . Yes, I have one right---
STRANGER: (softly but sharply) Don't make a move, this is a stickup!
JACK: (startled): Wha---?
STRANGER: You heard me.
JACK: (anxiously) Mister, put down that gun!
STRANGER: (sharply) Shut up! Now, come on---your money, or your life . . . (pause, laughter, short pause) . . . Look, bud, I said your money, or your life---
JACK: (hollers) I'm thinking it over!

---From "The Stolen Oscar," The Jack Benny Program, 28 March 1948.

Over two and a half years later, Benny now affords the Colmans the chance to give him a little good-natured ribbing through the gently clever script, as a guest star on their own sophisticated comedy series.

Benny agrees to entertain at Ivy College's annual benefit, at Victoria Hall's (Benita Hume Colman) persuasion, amusing husband and Ivy president William Todhunter Hall (Ronald Colman)---who seems barely aware of Benny's existence at first---almost as much as the ersatz showbiz lingo and breakfast habits ("two boilermakers and a Benzedrine") of Benny's advance man.

But Ivy board of governors chairman Wellman (Herbert Butterfield) is anything but amused by a "radio buffoon" befouling the hallowed halls at all, never mine one trying his usual side profiting from the evening by way of bagging the concessions normally hosted by local businesses.

None of which prevents Benny from delivering his usual low-keyed drollery, at his own as often as anyone else's expense---including his neighbour Ronald Colman's!---on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC; rebroadcast: Armed Forces Radio Service.)

Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Writer: Don Quinn.


1942: THE OTHER WOMAN---Olivia Martin (possibly Betty Lou Gerson) isn't the only one in her indifferent husband's life with an interest in obstructing his romance with a comely advertising colleague (possibly Lurene Tuttle), but she's the one planning an elaborately deadly resolution, on tonight's edition of The Whistler. (CBS.)

The Whistler: Joseph Kearns. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Possibly J. Donald Wilson.

1945: BLACKIE KIDNAPPED---A rival mob wants the jailed Johnson mob's missing bank haul . . . and hopes an anesthesiologist drugs Blackie (Richard Kollmar) into revealing the haul's location, which he learned from a jailed Johnson sister, on tonight's edition of Boston Blackie. (Blue Network.)

Shorty: Tony Barrett. Faraday: Maurice Tarplin. Mary: Jan Minor. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Kenny Lyons, Ralph Rosenberg.

1946: CASANOVA MOORE---Jimmy (Durante) is held up making the show; the grand turkey is raffled and then some; Garry (Moore) and Suzanne (Ellis) mull the pending death of etiquette; and, Garry recalls the inventor of the kiss---his Uncle Cas, on tonight's edition of The Durante-Moore Show. (CBS.)

Announcer: Howard Petrie. Music: Ray Bargy and his Orchestra. Writers: Sid Zalinka, possibly Sid Reznick, Jack Robinson, Leo Solomon.

1953: FRED HERTZELL VISITS FROM KANSAS---Never say "If you're ever in New York, look me up" casually, even from gratitude, as Ben (Hume Cronyn) is reminded the hard way, thanks to an old acquaintance (Wendell Hall) who once helped Ben and Liz (Jessica Tandy) out of a nasty jam, and who's just telegrammed that he's coming to town . . . on Thanksgiving, on tonight's edition of The Marriage. (NBC.)

Pete: David Pfeffer. Emily: Denise Alexander. Announcer: Bob Denton. Writer: John McGifford.


1875---Elizabeth Patterson (actress: The Halls of Ivy), Savannah, Tennessee.
1899---Hoagy Carmichael (singer/composer: The Hoagy Carmichael Show), Bloomington, Indiana.
1904---Roland Winters (actor: My Best Girls; Highways in Melody; The Milton Berle Show), Boston.
1907---Howard Petrie (announcer: Abie's Irish Rose; Big Sister; The Camel Caravan; Blondie and Dagwood; The Ray Bolger Show; The Jimmy Durante Show; The Judy Canova Show), Beverly, Massachussetts.
1913---Benjamin Britten (composer: Columbia Workshop; An American in England), Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK.
1914---Frank Graham (actor: Lum & Abner; The Lion's Eye), Michigan.
1921---Rodney Dangerfield (as Jacob Cohen; comedian: Voices of Vista), Babylon, New York.
1924---Geraldine Page (actress: Arch Oboler's Plays), Kirksville, Missouri.


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