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.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Role Model for Corporate Mother Figures: The Way It Was, 16 November

1899---Welcomed into the world by McBride parents proud enough is a little girl named Mary Margaret, whose future will be as one of the most singularly-trusted ladies in old-time radio history (once she sheds her early persona as Martha Deane, whose subjects include her non-existent grandchildren), worthy enough that deceptive satirists Bob & Ray will parody her as Mary McGoon.

The most listened-to personality [among women's programs] was Mary Margaret McBride, who had her own programs on which she chatted with her audience and interviewed celebrities.

---Frank Buxton and Tim Owen, The Big Broadcast 1920-1950. (New York: Flare/Avon, 1971.)

While she was Martha Deane, she became a role model for corporate mother figures and doled out advice to the lovelorn, like Beatrice Fairfax, or to the ovenlorn, like Betty Crocker. McBride had a genuinely homey manner, a compelling interview style, and gave off a concerned air that drew a huge devoted audience to her bubbly recipe of household tips, celebrity chats, and social issues. One writer called her a female Arthur Godfrey, mainly because her sincere manner could sell any product---but only those she believed in and had lab-tested to prove their promises. McBride's personal seal of approval kept sponsors in line---and standing in line, begging for a satisfied nod for her.

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

Lest anyone think she is strictly the prime of the lightweights in the day, merely because at the height of her influence her programs interrupt your regularly scheduled daily daytime soap operas, Mary Margaret McBride's interview subjects will be anything but lightweight. Eleanor Roosevelt, Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bob Hope, Carl Sandburg, Margaret Bourke-White, Zora Neale Hurston, Tennessee Williams, and Joe DiMaggio will be just a few of the day's titans to sit and talk with the University of Missouri journalism graduate.


1936: CONVERSATION PIECE---In an adaptation of Noel Coward's operetta, fortune hunters playing gentry troll for society marriages, including one (Adolphe Menjou) whose cafe singer protege (Lily Pons) falls for him, in an adaptation of Noel Coward's operetta for tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Marjorie Gateston, George Sanders, Elsa Buchanan, Ben Guy Phillips, Phyllis Coughlan, Margaret Brayton, Grayce Hampton, Lou Merrill, Evelyn Beresford, Colin Campbell, Frank Nelson, Ross Forrester, Charles Emerson, David Kerman.

1945: ARCHIE HIRES MADAM ZOOMA---With business wanting of late, Archie (Ed Gardner) decides the unfortunate place needs a fortune teller ("After all, you ain't a bad-lookin' tomato for a Zodiac")---whom he hopes will contact a dead uncle who sent him an inheritance letter, apparently, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (NBC.)

Eddie: Eddie Green. Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Ed Gardner, Larry Marks, Larry Rhine, possibly Bob Schiller.

1948: LUIGI ATTENDS A PTA MEETING---Luigi (J. Carrol Naish) learns of it from Miss Spalding (Mary Shipp), whose notice of the meeting Jimmy (Gil Stratton) forgot to convey . . . because he fears another excuse for Luigi's well-meaning speeching, on tonight's edition of Life With Luigi. (CBS.)

Pasquale: Alan Reed. Rosa: Jody Gilbert. Writers: Hy Kraft, Cy Howard.

1950: THE BIG PARROT---A couple and their parrot are found murdered in their burning rooming house, to which Friday (Jack Webb) and Romero (Burton Yarborough) are told their killer put a torch in the bargain, on tonight's edition of Dragnet. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: John Robinson, Frank Burt.


1873---W.C. Handy (The Father of the Blues; trumpeter/composer: Cavalcade of Music; Freedom's People), Florence, Alabama.
1889---George S. Kaufman (panelist: Information, Please; This Is Broadway; Who Said That?), Pittsburgh.
1894---Ruth Cornell Woodman (creator/writer: Death Valley Days), unknown.
1896---Lawrence Tibbett (singer: The Voice of Firestone; Your Hit Parade; Golden Voices), Bakersfield, California.
1905---Eddie Condon (jazz guitarist/composer/host: Eddie Condon's Jazz Concerts), Goodland, Indiana.
1907---Burgess Meredith (actor: Red Adams/Red Davis, known in due course as Pepper Young's Family), Cleveland.
1912---George O. Petrie (actor: The Falcon; The Amazing Mr. Malone), New Haven.
1916---Daws Butler (actor: Sears Radio Theater; That's Rich; The Stan Freberg Show), Toledo, Ohio; Smiling Jack Smith (singer: Breezing Along; The Prudential Family Hour; The Jack Smith Show), Bainbridge Island, Washington.
1927---Barbara Payton (actress: The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope), Cloquet, Minnesota.


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