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.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa Claus Sits Down: The Way It Was, 22 December

1937: A.K.A. SANTA WILL NOT RIDE TONIGHT---Precious enough: Any surviving Christmastime or Christmas-themed installment of any Fred Allen program, considering how few of them have survived among the truckload of surviving Allen shows.

Precious more: Guest Jack Benny, with Allen performing live from Hollywood while in town to make a film, and the pair swapping rapiers in the slot where Allen would normally begin the show in earnest.

JACK BENNY: Jello again, this--—
FRED ALLEN: Go away.
BENNY: --—is Jack Benny talking.
ALLEN: Go away. Go away, boy.
BENNY: Oh, all right, gee, right away y—--
ALLEN: Get away from this microphone here. (Pause.) Good evening. We must get a weather strip put on this floor.

Meanwhile, the Mighty Allen Art Players perform Allen's classic routine about weary Santa finally throwing in the towel and going on a sit-down strike---preceded by a cleverly low-key "Town Hall News" zap against the cold spell of the day, an interview with a Warner Brothers backlot lunch cart operator, a jivey musical number about a riveter, a segment with Radio Guide photographer Eugene Lester, a segment with second bananette Portland Hoffa, and a few more break-ins from Benny (“I didn’t expect to get paid for this, I haven’t any more right to take money for working on this program than you have”), on tonight's edition of Town Hall Tonight. (NBC.)

The Mighty Allen Art Players: John Brown, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, Walter Tetley, Harry Von Zell. Writers: Fred Allen, Arnold Auerbach, Herman Wouk. (Yes, children---that Herman Wouk.)


1935: CHRISTMAS PROGRAM---Eddie (Cantor) gets lassoed into helping a woman plug a leak; a little runaway boy tries to adopt him; and, he ponders a new car, on tonight's edition of The Eddie Cantor Show. (CBS.)

Parkyakarkus: Harry Einstein. Annoucer: Jimmy Wallington. Music: Louis Glass Orchestra. Writers: Possibly David Freedman, Carrol Carroll, Philip Rapp.

1942: SANTA AND THE WICKED PIRATE---Two days before Christmas, while trimming the tree, Gracie fears her favourite duck, Herman, is missing---but when he turns up safe and sound, the duck just might quack up listening to Gracie telling him a Christmas story, on tonight's edition of The Burns & Allen Show. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Elvia Allman, Jimmy Cash, Lawrence Nash. Announcer: Bill Goodwin. Music: Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. Writers: Paul Henning, Keith Fowler, George Burns.

1948: MIRACLE IN MANHATTAN---One measly egg nog atop some bad nutmeg, and one snide Christmas card from his boss, put Archie in a slightly sour mood . . . until guest Jeff Chandler tries to convince the cynical barkeep ("There's two kinds of guys go to church---them that doesn't, and them that don't") a spell in church might lift his spirit---leading Archie to an unexpected moment of true faith and a miracle before his weary eyes, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (NBC.)

Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Writers: Ed Gardner, Vinnie Bogert, Robert Schiller.

1953: THE PLOT TO MURDER SANTA CLAUS---Assigned to work as a department store detective, Rocky (Frank Sinatra) lands smack into the middle of trouble intended for the store's Santa, on tonight's edition of Rocky Fortune. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Ted Borneo, Mary McGovern, Kay Stewart, Frank Bristol, Barney Phillips. Writer: George Lefferts.

1959: THE CHRISTMAS ECONOMY---Shoving out of bed early under threat of a bucket of cold water is the least of their problems compared to trying to live up to their vow to cut down on frivolous Christmas spending, on today's edition of The Couple Next Door. (CBS.)

The Couple: Peg Lynch, Alan Bunce. Aunt Effie: Margaret Hamilton. Writer: Peg Lynch.


1885---Deems Taylor (commentator: Deems Taylor Music Series; The Prudential Family Hour; The RCA Victor Show; Information, Please), New York City.
1901---Andre Kostelanetz (conductor: The Chesterfield Hour; Light-Up Time; The Pause That Refreshes), St. Petersburg, Russia.
1907---Dame Peggy Ashcroft (actress: Queen Victoria), London.
1911---Bob Guilbert (actor: Don Winslow of the Navy), Wisconsin.
1917---Gene Rayburn (comedian/host: Rayburn and Finch), Christopher, Illinois.
1918---Frankie Darrow (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Chicago.
1921---Hawkshaw Hawkins (singer: Country Style USA; Country Music Time), Huntingdon, West Virginia.


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