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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

For Auld Lang Syne: The Way It Was, 31 December

As a year ago, so it is this year. You need not imprison yourself with television's usual bill of unfare this New Year's Eve. You need not even imprison yourself in the clink for the night, should you run afoul of the sobriety checkpoints.

All you have to do, on my invitation, is round up your party, stay inside, break out the booze, and crank up the computer speakers to turn them into the old Philco for a few rounds of auld lang syne as they did it on old-time radio.

You need not even do it for any reason other than the sake of just plain good entertainment. Remember: If you seek nostalgia, move along, nothing (much) to see here. If you seek art (I leave it to you whether it is highbrow or Lowenbrau---forgive me, I'm a St. Pauli Girl man myself, in terms of an occasional beer), you have arrived at the right party.

So, in the immortal words of a certain former M*A*S*H commander, here's to the new year and may she be a damn sight better than the old one.


1940: FIBBER FINDS A GOLD WATCH---And, advertises for its owner, though it was tempting to McGee (Jim Jordan) to think this was one time finders/keepers should have applied, all things considered, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Molly: Marian Jordan. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. The Old Timer: Bill Thompson. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Writer: Don Quinn.

1944: NEW YEAR'S EVE PLAY---You can argue a little with Effie Klinker singing "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week" on an otherwise festive night, but you can't really argue with Charles Loughlin making Edgar's (Bergen) New Year's Eve party a night---and a play---to, well, let's just say you won't necessarily forget, if Edgar playing Father Time and Charlie playing the usual have anything to say about it, on tonight's edition of The Charlie McCarthy Show. (NBC.)

With Don Ameche. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Ray Noble Orchestra. Writers: Possibly Roland MacLane, Bob Connolly, Bob Mosher.

1944: NEW YEAR'S EVE---Well, it's actually the day before, and our hero (Harold Peary) lets Marjorie (Lurene Tuttle) and Leroy (Walter Tetley) talk him into ice skating, which only begins the chill Hooker (Earle Ross) puts into him by roping him into a mock trial putting the year about to end into the docket, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.

1945: PRIDE OF THE MARINES---John Garfield re-creates his film role as blinded-in-battle (at Guadalcanal) Marine Sgt. Al Schmid, who rehabilitates back home with the aid of the wife (Eleanor Parker, also re-creating her film role) who married him in spite of his tries at breaking their engagement because he feared himself less a man, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Dane Clark. Adapted from the screenplay by Marvin Borowsky.

1945: LET'S DANCE---With some of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, live from their various New Year's Eve hotel/ballroom engagements, American servicemen still stationed around the world in the aftermath of World War II were the privileged few and proud to be in on this remarkable hour's music.

The highlights: Harry James (the broadcast’s leadoff hitter, with an exuberant "Sad Sack"); Count Basie (a ripping "One O’Clock Jump"); Louis Armstrong (an exuberant "Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive"), Jimmy Dorsey (a breakneck "I Got Rhythm"); Artie Shaw, with guest trumpeter Roy Eldridge (a shivery "Little Jazz"); Stan Kenton (a rousing "Tampico," featuring his near-signature vocalist June Christy); Benny Goodman (a snappy "Gotta Be This or That"); and, Duke Ellington ("Let The Zoomers Zoom," an Ellington rarity (I don't think a studio recording by Ellington and his men was ever released, if they cut it at all, though I could be wrong) were merely the highlights of the show---with Ellington fans perking up in particular when high-note trumpet specialist Cat Anderson boots it home with his usual style, and Guy Lombardo auld langing his usual syne, on tonight's special, New Year's Radio Dancing Party, 1945-46.

Also featuring: Freddy Martin, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Henry King, Carmen Cavallaro, Louis Prima.

1949: NEW YEAR'S EVE DAY---Recalling choice high, middle, low, and off-chart lights of the year about to end, not to mention a little problem trying to spell "juxtaposition," on today's edition of Matinee with Bob & Ray. (WHDH, Boston.)

Writers, such as they were: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.

1950: ONCE MORE WITH LITTLE MARGARET---Margaret O'Brien returns following her charming Christmas appearance a week earlier; Dame Tallulah's usual bitchcraft includes Gloria Swanson; Sam Levine plays in a smartly-compressed scene from Guys and Dolls; Jose Ferrer joins Swanson for a torrid scene from the revival of 1931's Twentieth Century (Ben Hecht); and, a rousing finale that medleys the year's signature Broadway song hits, on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Vivian Blaine, Ken Murray. Music: Meredith Willson and the Big Show Orchestra and Chorus. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writers: Goodman Ace, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1897---Paula Hemminghous (singer: The Philco Hour; The National Radio Pulpit; Highlights of the Bible), Columbus, Ohio.
1904---Nathan Milstein (violinist, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra), Odessa, Ukraine.
1908---Jonah Jones (trumpeter: Eddie Condon's Jazz Concert; Army Bandstand; Manhattan Melodies), Louisville.
1910---Richard Kollmar (co-host: The Dorothy and Dick Show; actor: John's Other Wife; Big Sister; Boston Blackie), Ridgewood, New Jersey.
1914---Pat Brady (comedian: The Roy Rogers Show), Toledo, Ohio.
1921---Rex Allen (singer: Country Music Time; Country Hoedown), Wilcox, Arizona.


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