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, May 31, 2007

A Rapier is Born: The Way It Was, 31 May

1894: IT ISN'T THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, KIDDIES---Let the man's own recall speak for itself.

On May 31, 1894, the population of Cambridge, Massachussetts was increased by one. On that day a son was born to James Henry Sullivan and his wife Cecilia Herlihy of that city. In Irish homes in those days there was no idle talk about the stork. When babies arrived in Cambridge they were expected. Poor mothers, who could not afford the luxury of a hospital bed, had their babies at home. On the appointed day, a relative or a friendly neighbour came in to take over the housework. Then the doctor drove up in his buggy, hitched his horse, and hurried into the house with his little black bag. Some hours later, looking a mite disheveled, the doctor walked slowly out the front door and drove away in his buggy; a tiny cry was heard from within the confines of the house. A baby had been born. That was all there was to it.

On May 31, then, this performance was given; the result was John Florence Sullivan.

---John Florence Sullivan, recalling his birth, to open his second memoir, Much Ado About Me. (Boston: Atlantic Little, Brown, 1956.)

Of course, you and I and the world know him better as Fred Allen.


1942: TESTIMONIAL DINNER FOR JUDGE HOOKER---Grateful for an unexpected inner tube gift after he gets a flat tire, Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) wants to give Hooker (Earle Ross) a testimonial for his anniversary as a judge---if only the judge can shake off a racketeers' trial and an unexpected re-election campaign twist, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

1945: DOUBLE FEATURE---Two short dramas, "Ostrich In My Bed" (cast: Wally Meyer, Mary Jane Croft) and "Report to My Relatives" (cast: Bruce Meyer) highlight tonight's edition of Arch Oboler's Plays. (Mutual.)

Writer/director: Arch Oboler.


1893---Albert Mitchell (host: The Answer Man), Elsberry, Missouri.
1898---Norman Vincent Peale (preacher: The Art of Living), Bowersville, Ohio.
1900---Hugh Studebaker (actor: Captain Midnight; Fibber McGee & Molly), Ridgeville, Tennessee.
1901---Alfredo Antonini (conductor: La Rosa Concerts; Treasure Hour of Song), Alessandra, Italy; Joe Kelly (host: National Barn Dance; The Quiz Kids), Crawfordsville, Indiana.
1903---Blanche Stewart (actress: The Bob Hope Show), Pennsylvania.
1904---Clifton Utley (newscaster: University of Chicago Round Table; Comments By Clifton Utley), Chicago.
1908---Don Ameche (as Dominic Felix Ameche; singer/actor/comedian: Jack Armstrong; Lux Radio Theater; Drene Time; The Bickersons), Kenosha, Wisconsin.
1931---Barbara Whiting (actress: Junior Miss; Meet Corliss Archer), Los Angeles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"the lawyers hopped on us good": The Way It Was, 29 May

1941: SHOULD HE UNSOLVE THE MURDER, THEN?---Amidst semi-frequent correspondence with Hollywood film publicist Jack Mulcahy---who often steered him guest stars, as well as publicising one or two of his very few films (one of which was Sally, Irene, and Mary, a film that also featured Alice Faye and her then-husband Tony Martin)---Fred Allen takes one of his customary none-too-genteel pokes at a gossip or two and a busybody or two, the latter of whom sought to sue Mr. Allen over one of his vintage One Long Pan spoofs.

may 29th

dear jack . . .

received your letter this a.m. i saw the quote in the reporter. personally, i don't care about it. the only bad thing is the gravity that is accorded the bunk in gossip columns by most of the people out there. to call the last picture a turkey might upset mark sandrich, y. frank and mr. b.

the pallbearer lines and the impersonal stuff i don't care who prints but matters that can be misconstrued by some of the touchy chaps in your profession can lead to a lot of bother and lead to hard feelings as you know how things finally get magnified in certain circles.

i have never met that west coast columnist named stein. he had the audacity to print that portland and i were living in a flophouse, or something, while we were in hollywood. i never even bother to correct anything those finks write for to pay any attention to anything they say or quote only gives importance to their semi-libelous trivia.

in the future i shall be more careful what i write. if those yucks have to fill their columns they can scurry around and find items the hard way.

we had some trouble with the earl derr biggers estate but it has died down. we killed charlie chan on a program a couple of months ago and the lawyers or mrs. biggers hopped on us good. we have been plugging all of darryl's pictures when we get a chance and i guess the office didn't check on the charlie chan reference. the name didn't mean anything to us. we could have used any name but being 20th-minded i put in chan and started the whole mess. legally, they have no claims and some day someone will go into court with one of these shakedown cases and after one decision has been handed down all of the jerk nuisance letters, etc. will be stopped at the source.

you have my permission to tell stein what we think of him.

sincerely . . .


---Fred Allen, published posthumously in fred allen's letters. (Joe McCarthy, editor; New York: Doubleday & Company, 1965.)


1940: SWEEPING INTO OFFICE---Broadcasting from Treasure Island at the San Francisco World's Fair, George (Burns) thinks Gracie (Allen) will be a shoe-in for the White House if they can get a powerful Bay Area wheel behind her campaign---assuming he can shut her up about the man's sensitivity about his red beard, on tonight's edition of The Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Program Starring Burns & Allen. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Frank Parker, Truman Bradley. Music: Ray Noble & His Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, Paul Henning.

1949: GETTING JERRY'S GOAT---Dean (Martin) thinks Jerry (Lewis) will shake off a broken romance by seeing Henry Fonda on stage in Mr. Roberts, but when Jerry's inspired to serious acting Fonda comes up with a role for him, on tonight's edition of The Martin & Lewis Show. (NBC.)

Music: Dick Stabile and His Orchestra. Writers: Ray Allen, Dick McKnight.

1949: THE TREASURE OF HANG LEE---An anonymous request to buy a particular jade after rejecting two other pieces in a Chinatown gift shop promises "a lot of money" and a lot of interest to Holliday (Alan Ladd), but the ancient jade's tip toward a reputed treasure may tip him and the shopkeeper toward murder, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Suzy: Sylvia Packer. Kling: Edmund MacDonald. Additional cast: Possibly Luis van Rooten, Lurene Tuttle, Alan Reed, Frank Lovejoy. Writer: Russell Hughes.


1892---Mario Chamlee (singer: Tony and Gus; Arco Birthday Party; Swift Garden Party), Los Angeles.
1894---Beatrice Lillie (comedienne: The Beatrice Lillie Show; The Fred Allen Show; The Big Show), Toronto.
1897---F. Hugh Herbert (writer: Meet Corliss Archer; Lux Radio Theater), Vienna; Erich Wolfgang Korngold (composer: Contemporary Composers' Concerts; The Railroad Hour), Brno, Czechoslovakia.
1903---Bob Hope (as Leslie Townes Hope; comedian: The Quick and the Dead; The Pepsodent Show; The Bob Hope Show; Command Performance; Mail Call; The Big Show), Eltham, U.K.
1909---Mary Jane Higby (actress: When a Girl Marries; This is Nora Drake), St. Louis; Dick Stabile (bandleader: The Martin & Lewis Show), Newark.
1911---Vivi Janiss (actress: Aunt Mary), Nebraska.
1913---Iris Adrian (actress: The Abbott & Costello Show), Los Angeles.
1914---Stacy Keach, Sr. (producer/director: Tales of the Texas Rangers), Chicago.
1918---Herb Shriner (comedian: The Camel Comedy Caravan; Herb Shriner Time), Toledo.
1924---Bob Corley (actor: Beulah), Macon, Georgia.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Doctor is In?: The Way It Was, 28 May

1962---As the patient of old-time radio became only a matter of time before the last rites were to be administered absolutely, quietly genial Chris Schenkel---whose broadcasting career began in radio, at Purdue University's WBAA, while he was a pre-medical student---brought a weekly sports report to CBS radio . . . three years before ABC would hire him away as a play-by-play jack-of-all-trades who became famous especially as the almost eternal anchor and commentator for the network's coverage of the Professional Bowlers' Association.


1935: LUM RETURNS---Even Lum (Chester Lauck) has to get over the fact that nobody really wanted to see his statue unveiled, and Abner (Norris Goff) is relieved to learn he's returned alive---and Grandpap (also Chester Lauck) is relieved to be able to tell the boys to quit dragging the mill pond, after all, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (NBC.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

1947: THE MORGAN VACATION TRAVEL BUREAU---The public service of making vacation planning---"when people try to find some quaint little place where they can live beyond their means"---a little more simple isn't exactly that simple, all things considered, on tonight's edition of The Henry Morgan Show. (ABC.)

Additional cast: Arnold Stang, Florence Halop. Music: Bernie Green and His Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Joe Stein, Aaron Ruben, Carroll Moore Jr.

1949: IN THE HOUSE WHERE I WAS BORN---Repeating an episode of 24 May 1948, a man (Ernest Chappell, who narrates) who returns to his childhood home annually is haunted enough by his memories to make a fateful decision about his annual visits, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (ABC.)

Additional cast: Betty Wragge, Cecil Roy, Lotte Stavisky, J. Pat O'Malley. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.


1899---Richard Lane (actor: Boston Blackie), Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
1902---Little Jack Little (bandleader/singer: The Little Jack Little Show), London.
1906---Phil (The Singing Cop) Regan (singer: The Burns & Allen Show), Brooklyn.
1912---Violet Dunn (actress: The O'Neills), unknown; Tom Scott (singer/composer: The American School of the Air; The Golden Gate Quartet Sings), unknown.
1918---Johnny Wayne (comedian: The Army Show; The March of Time), Toronto.
1922---Scott McCay (actor: Barry Cameron), Pleasantville, Iowa.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Canada Rocks: The Way It Was, 27 May

1957: LET'S ROCK---Toronto's CHUM (the neon sign atop the station's headquarters becomes nearly if not equally as famous) becomes Canada's first top forty radio station, a life that will see its surveys become Canada's most influential, not to mention becoming Canada's first station to play both Elvis Presley and the Beatles and the station future rock and roll icon Neil Young would credit with teaching him what really went in in contemporary music when he listened as a boy before migrating to the U.S.


1935: LUM HAS DISAPPEARED---That's all Abner (Norris Goff), Dick Huddleston (Goff) and Grandpap (Chester Lauck, who also plays Lum) need after the statue unveiling fiasco, with Dick assuring Abner the mill pond's the last place Lum might have disappeared---while frowning on Lum's wanting to erect a statue to himself in the first place---on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (NBC.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

1947: THE FRENCH INTERIOR DECORATOR---Mel (Blanc, who also plays Zookie) balks when Betty (Mary Jane Croft) asks him to ask her father (Earle Ross) to approve their marriage, but when he offers to repaint the old man's supermarket on the house it may prove to be a coat of another colour, on tonight's edition of The Mel Blanc Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Hans Conreid, Joseph Kearns. Music: Victor Mills and His Orchestra. Writer: Mack Benoff.


1904---Marlin Hurt (actor: Fibber McGee & Molly, Beulah), Du Quoin, Illinois.
1911---Vincent Price (actor: The Saint; Lux Radio Theater; The Price of Fear), St. Louis.
1915---Herman Wouk (writer: Town Hall Tonight; The Sal Hepatica Revue; Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen), New York City.
1919---Ray Montgomery (actor: Dear John), unknown.
1921---Redd Stewart (lyricist: Pee Wee King and His Golden West Cowboys), Ashland City, Tennessee.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Death of a Patriarch: The Way It Was, 21-26 May

26 MAY 1993---The man who sought respite from his ordinarily megahigh old-time radio dramas by creating the most popular radio serial ever to originate from San Francisco, in storyline and in broadcast origin, dies today at age 91.

Chronicling the affluent and mostly upright Barbours of San Francisco, Carleton Morse's One Man's Family was born in 1932 at NBC's Sutter Street studios in the Bay City and broke a radio soap pattern, airing weekly until 1950 and then converting to a daily fifteen-minute serial format.

Louisiana-born Morse was already the number one radio dramatist on the West Coast---his creations included The Witch of Endor, The City of the Dead, Captain Post, Crime Specialist, The Game Called Murder, Dead Men Prowl, and a quartet of programs based on San Francisco police files. Then, he tired of the murder and mayhem and developed a simple but effective family drama.

After the First World War, there was a beginning of a deterioration of the family, of parent-child relationships. I had been brought up with very strict, conventional home life, and it rather appalled me to see what was going on.

---Carleton Morse, to an interviewer.

Written mostly by Morse, with One Man's Family co-star Michael Raffetto (Paul Barbour) and Harlan Ware later in the show's run, One Man's Family in due course earned the ultimate compliment, when mad-lib comedians Bob & Ray developed a running satire of the soap known as "One Fella's Family," right down to satirising the show's trademark episode introductions ("Book See El See, Chapter Vee Eye Ex Eye Eye Ex Vee").

Morse---who once bound his One Man's Family scripts into leatherback bindings---also created another rather enduring old-time radio drama. Perhaps you've heard of that one, too: I Love a Mystery.


21 MAY

1950: THE RARE BLACK ORCHID---It's what Conklin (Gale Gordon) wants Connie (Eve Arden) to protect as a surprise for his wife (Paula Winslowe)---which probably seems akin to asking a mongoose to protect a cobra so far as Conklin's concerned, on tonight's edition of Our Miss Brooks. (CBS.)

Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Stretch: Leonard Smith. Writer: Al Lewis.

1950: DRIVER'S LICENCE RENEWAL---Bad enough: Alice (Faye) plowing a police car while trying to back hers in, en route taking her first driver's licence exam. Worse: Phil (Harris) learning the hard way he can't renew his own licence on his actual or alleged fame and charm alone, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Remley: Elliott Lewis. Julius: Walter Tetley. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

22 MAY

1932: THE OCEAN CRUISE---In which our intrepid scramblers of law and disorder find themselves stowing away aboard a cruise ship, tucked aboard a lifeboat, stuck for an idea for getting ashore without getting bastinadoes by ship officers, and don't ask what the hell they were doing on board in the first place, on tonight's edition of Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, Attorneys at Law. (NBC Blue.)

Waldorf T. Flywheel: Groucho Marx. Emmanuel Ravelli: Chico Marx. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Nat Perrin, Arthur Sheekman, George Oppenheimer and Tom McKnight.

1949: DEATH IS NO JOKE---An invitation to a country home from its owner's correspondent sounds harmless and simple to Holliday (Alan Ladd) . . . until he misses death by a hair when his brakes are cut, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Suzy: Sylvia Packer. Kling: Edmund MacDonald. Additional cast: Possibly Alan Reed, Frank Lovejoy, Luis van Rooten, Lurene Tuttle. Writer: Russell Hughes.

23 MAY

1943: FRED'S BIOGRAPHY---That's what George Jessel would like to try filming, assuming they can avoid complications, after the Alley demimonde mulls National Poetry Week, on tonight's edition of Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen. (CBS.)

Co-stars: Portland Hoffa, Jimmy Wallington. John Doe: John Brown. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Socrates Mulligan: Charles Cantor. Falstaff Openshaw: Alan Reed. Music: Al Goodman and His Orchestra, Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame.

1960: SPEAKING OF ONE FELLA'S FAMILY . . . --- . . . today's episode is "The Figure Problem," from Book Ex, Chapter Ex Ex, Page Two, where the family's standing by the radio ready to commence . . . their contribution to today's quiet mayhem on Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (If you gotta ask, we're not doing it right.)

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.

24 MAY

1950: BOXING OR MEDICINE?---Hall (Ronald Colman) astonishes Victoria (Benita Hume Colman) when he favours a medical student with good hands in the gloves as well pursing professional boxing, the better to finance his eventual medical career, on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC.)

Merriweather: Willard Waterman. Wellman: Herb Butterfield. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Don Quinn.

25 MAY

1943: SORRY, WRONG NUMBER---The original old-time radio drama, in which a bedridden wife (Agnes Moorehead) whose husband is missing panicks when she overhears a murder plot on the telephone . . . and can't convince anyone else she heard it, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Lucille Fletcher.

1949: ED WYNN NARRATES ARCHIE'S OPERA---And it's even money who'll be less the same, the veteran comedian or opera, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (NBC.)

Archie: Ed Gardner. Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Possibly Sandra Gould. Writers: Ed Gardner, possibly Larry Rhine, possibly Bob Schindler.

26 MAY

1937: UNTIL DEAD---The night before final summations to the jury, an accused wife killer asks his attorney to get him a knife---to use against the man he claims committed the crime, on tonight's edition of Lights Out. (NBC.)

Cast: Unknown. Writer: Arch Oboler.


21 MAY

1901---Horace Heidt (bandleader: Horace Heidt Brigadiers; Pot o' Gold; Treasure Chest), Alameda, California.
1904---Robert Montgomery (actor: Doctor Fights; Suspense; This is War); Fats Waller (as Thomas Waller; pianist/composer: Columbia Variety Hour; Saturday Night Swing Club), New York City.
1912---Lucille Manners (vocalist: The Cities Service Concert), Newark.
1915---Cathleen Cordell (actress: The Second Mrs. Burton; Valiant Lady), Brooklyn.
1917---Raymond Burr (actor: Fort Laramie; Dragnet), New Westminster, British Columbia; Dennis Day (singer/comedian: The Jack Benny Program; A Day in the Life of Dennis Day), Bronx, New York.
1918---Jeanne Bates (actress: One Man's Family; Gunsmoke), Berkeley, California.
1923---Rick Jason (actor: Sears Radio Theatre), New York City.

22 MAY

1879---Alla Nazimova (actress: I'm an American; Toward the Century of the Common Man), Yalta.
1891---Parks Johnson (host/interviewer: Vox Pox), Sheffield, Alabama.
1903---Ward Wilson (actor/announcer: The Aldrich Family; The Phil Baker Show), Trenton, New Jersey.
1906---Harry Ritz (comedian, with the Ritz Brothers: Hollywood Hotel), Newark.
1907---Lord Laurence Olivier (actor: Biography in Sound; Document A/777>; Hour of Mystery), Dorking, U.K.
1910---Johnny Olsen (announcer: Ladies, Be Seated; Get Rich Quick; host: Second Chance), Windom, Minnesota.
1934---Peter Nero (pianist: Voices of Vista), New York City.
1938---Susan Strasberg (actress: The Marriage), New York City.

23 MAY

1882---James Gleason (actor: Jimmy Gleason's Diner), New York City.
1883---Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (actor/commentator: KHJ Los Angeles 1921), Denver.
1890---Herbert Marshall (actor: The Man Called X; Lux Radio Theater; Old Gold Comedy Theater), London.
1898---Frank McHugh (actor: Phone Again Finnegan), Homestead, Pennsylvania.
1910---Scatman Crothers (as Benjamin Crothers; jazz singer/comedian, early radio), Terre Haute, Indiana; Artie Shaw (as Arthur Arshawsky; clarinetist/bandleader: Melody and Madness; The Burns & Allen Show), New York City.
1912---Marius Goring (actor: The Scarlet Pimpernel), Newport, Isle of Wight; John Payne (actor: Hollywood Star Preview; Lux Radio Theater), Roanoke, Virginia.
1919---Betty Garrett (actress/singer: Savings Bond Show; Guest Star; Showtime), St. Joseph, Missouri.
1921---Helen O'Connell (singer, with Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra: Kraft Music Hall; The Fitch Bandwagon), Lima, Ohio.
1928---Rosemary Clooney (singer: The Rosemary Clooney Show), Maysville, Kentucky.

24 MAY

1878---Harry Emerson Fosdick (preacher: National Vespers), Buffalo, New York.
1883---Elsa Maxwell (socialite/pitchwoman: Suspense; Texaco Star Theater), Keokuk, Iowa.
1902---Wilbur Hatch (bandleader/conductor: Screen Guild Theater; Gateway to Hollywood; My Favourite Husband; Our Miss Brooks), Mokena, Illinois.
1907---Bill Bouchey (actor: Captain Midnight), Michigan.
1909---Howard Snyder (writer: The Jack Benny Program; Lum & Abner; That's My Pop), unknown.
1911---Lilli Palmer (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Posen, Germany.
1912---Rachel Carley (singer: Manhattan Merry-Go-Round), Brussels.
1916---Tony Barrett (actor: This Life is Mine; Pepper Young's Family), New York City.
1924---Theodore Bikel (singer/actor: Eternal Light; The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Vienna.
1932---Elaine Malbin (singer: Serenade to America; Saturday Night with Elaine Malbin), New York City.

25 MAY

1892---Bennett Cerf (narrator: Biography in Sound), New York City.
1907---Barbara Luddy (actress: The Road of Life; The Woman in White), Helena, Montana.
1908---Linda Watkins (actress: Amanda of Honeymoon Hill; Big Guy; The Fat Man), Boston.
1913---Richard Dimbley (first known BBC radio reporter), Richmond-on-Thames.
1916---Kenin O'Morrison (actor: Charlie Wild, Private Detective), St. Louis; Ginny Simms (singer/actress: The Ginny Simms Show; Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge), San Antonio.
1917---Steve Cochran (actor: Voice of the Army; Unexpected; Screen Director's Playhouse), Eureka, California.
1918---Henry Calvin (actor: Big Guy), Dallas.
1919---Lindsey Nelson (sportscaster: Monitor Preview; Biography in Sound; original team leader, New York Mets baseball), Campbellsville, Tennessee.
1921---Kitty Kallen (singer: Kitty Kallen Calling; Harry James and His Music Makers), Philadelphia.
1925---Jeanne Crain (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Hallmark Playhouse), Barstow, California.
1929---Beverly Sills (as Belle Miriam Silverman; soprano: Major Bowes' Capitol Family/Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour), Brooklyn.

26 MAY

1884---Charles Winninger (actor: Uncle Charlie's Tent Show), Athens, Wisconsin.
1886---Al Jolson (as Asa Yoelson; singer/actor: Shell Chateau; Kraft Music Hall), Srednick, Lithuania.
1887---Paul Lukas (actor: The Quick and the Dead; The Big Show), Budapest.
1893---Edward MacHugh (singer: Gospel Singer), Dundee, Scotland.
1895---Norma Talmadge (actress: Thirty Minutes in Hollywood), Jersey City.
1907---John Wayne (as Marion Robert Morrison; actor: Three Sheets to the Wind), Winterset, Iowa.
1908---Robert Morley (actor: U.S. Steel Hour), Semley, U.K.
1911---Ben Alexander (actor: Dragnet; The Great Gildersleeve), Goldfield, Nevada.
1914---Ziggy Elman (as Harry Aaron Finkelman; trumpeter, with Benny Goodman and His Orchestra: Let's Dance; Camel Caravan; Swing School), Philadelphia.
1915---Sam Edwards (actor: One Man's Family; Meet Corliss Archer), Macon, Georgia; Martin Stone (producer: The Author Meets the Critics), unknown.
1918---John Dahl (actor: Cavalcade of America; Voice of the Army), New York City.
1920---Peggy Lee (as Norma Deloris Egstrom; singer: The Jimmy Durante Show; The Chesterfield Supper Club; The Peggy Lee Show), Jamestown, North Dakota.
1931---Chet Norris (actor: Tomorrow Calling; The Cisco Kid; ABC Radio Workshop), Manhattan Beach, New York.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Relax. And, Listen. The Way It Is, 20 May

So 20 May isn't exactly one of your great, earthshattering days for old-time radio history? Adjust. Then, relax. And, listen . . .


1929: THE TAXI COMPANY GETS COMPETITION---It's coming from Earl Dixon, opening up the new Easy Ridin' Taxicab Company right across the street from Amos (Freeman Gosden) and Andy's (Charles Correll) Fresh Aire Taxi Company, and promising his business will help their business---which Andy translates to mean putting them out of business, on tonight's edition of Amos 'n' Andy. (NBC.)

Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll.

1946: BOY MEETS GIRL---In an adaptation of the 1938 film, a pregnant waitress (Ann Sothern) at a struggling film studio inspires two lazy screenwriters (Chester Morris, Lee Tracy) to make the baby the star, on tonight's edition of The Old Gold Comedy Theater. (NBC.)

Adapted from the Spewack/Spewack screenplay. Host/director: Harold Lloyd.

1948: LEAVING NEW YORK---You might think freewheeling, irreverent, and cantankerous Henry Morgan a bit of a mismatch for Al Jolson, even with Oscar Levant among the evening's cast (and joining the needling in a charming parody of Morgan's second banana Arnold Stang, among other things), but we'll let you listen yourself to tonight's edition of Kraft Music Hall. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Don Wilson. Music: Lou Pring and his Orchestra and Chorus. Writers: Unknown.

1899---Virginia Sale (actress: Those We Love), Urbana, Illinois.
1899---Stan Lomax (sportscaster: Evening Journal Sports), Pittsburgh.
1906---Lyda Roberti (actress/singer: numerous radio appearances), Warsaw.
1908---James Stewart (actor: Lux Radio Theater; We Hold These Truths), Pennsylvania.
1909---Jerry Hausner (actor: Silver Theater; Lum & Abner), Cleveland.
1911---Vet Boswell (singer, with the Boswell Sisters: The Boswell Sisters; The Woodbury Soap Show), Birmingham, Alabama.
1920---George Gobel (comedian/actor: Tom Mix; National Barn Dance), Chicago.
1936---Anthony Zerbe (actor: Earplay), Long Beach, California.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Day The Music Cried: The Way It Was, 19 May

1960---He coined the term, was often considered its father, and his signature signoff was, "This is not goodbye, it's just good night." But while innumerable commentators fretted about rock and roll corrupting the day's youth, they now must think they should have worried about it corrupting its promoters.

Alan Freed and eight other disc jockeys are accused of accepting payola---payments to guarantee certain records getting played---after the U.S. House Oversight Committee has spent a year examining whether such payoffs (gifts, cash, both) really existed, the House committee reputedly having been prodded by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).

. . . Though a number of deejays and program directors were caught in the scandal, the committee decide to focus on Freed. Freed's broadcasts alliances quickly deserted him. In 1959, WABC in New York asked him to sign a statement confirming that he had never accepted payola. Freed refused "on principle" to sign and was fired.

Freed was the only deejay subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee and refused to testify despite being given immunity. Trial began December, 1962 and ended with Freed pleading guilty to 29 counts of commercial bribery. Though he only received a $300 fine and 6 months suspended sentence his career would be over.

Forced to leave New York Freed worked briefly at KDAY (owned by the same company that owned WINS) in 1960, in Los Angeles, but when management refused to let him promote live rock & roll shows Freed left the station and returned to Manhattan to emcee a live twist revue. When the twist craze cooled he hooked on as a disc jockey at WQAM (Miami, FL). Realizing that his dream of returning to New York radio was just that, Freed's drinking increased. The Miami job lasted only two months.

By 1964, he will be indicted for income tax evasion, by which time he is hospitalised with uremia, the penalty for the heavy drinking into which he fell following his original troubles, and he will die penniless in January 1965.

His ethics would be questioned often enough. (Like many in the day, he claimed songwriting credits as possible promotional payoffs; he was also accused of underpaying talent who appeared in his famous rock and roll spectacular shows and tours before the payola scandals.) But no one could or would really question Alan Freed's rock and roll heart.


1929: SUSPECTING THE KINGFISH IS EMBEZZLING---Andy (Charles Correll) has precisely such a suspicion after he noticed how particularly well the Kingfish's wife has been dressing lately . . . and, after the Kingfish handed him a new---and possible illegally written---lodge bylaw, on tonight's edition of Amos 'n' Andy. (NBC.)

Amos: Freeman Gosden. Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll.

1941: MODEL WIFE---Dick Powell and Joan Blondell---whose marriage in real life was in trouble when they made the sleeper film hit---reprise their roles as a couple whose marriage is kept secret from her boss, who frowns on working married women . . . and happens to have his own thing for her, provoking trouble enough between husband and wife, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Fred MacKaye. Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Leigh Jason.


1870---Wright Kramer (actor: Showboat), Somerville, Massachussetts.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Well, Sir, Miss Bankhead . . . ": The Way It Was, 18 May

1902---He will grow up to become the Music Man, thanks to the musical hit of the same name . . . but first, he will become known for several old-time radio contributions---including Burns & Allen's Maxwell House Coffee Time (on which he also pries romantic hints from his hosts); his own summer replacement for Fibber McGee & Molly in the early 1940s; and, as musical director for The Big Show, where he will become as familiar for his replies to Dame Tallulah ("Well, sir, Miss Bankhead . . . ") as for his exuberant orchestra and chorus.

Even before those achievements, however, he needs to be born in the first place---as Meredith Willson is, today, in Mason City, Iowa.


1943: THE ABC MURDERS---And they're not exactly as simple as A-B-C (or N-B-C, or C-B-S), either, kiddies, not when it comes to a mild-mannered traveler (Charles Laughton) with those very initials who may be suspected of at least some involvement in a round of particularly savage---and alphabetically arranged---killings . . . neither in the Agatha Christie original, nor tonight's adaptation for Suspense. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Elsa Lanchester, Branwell Fletcher. Adapted for radio by Robert Talman and William Spear.

1945: ARCHIE'S RAISE---That would be the raise he does get, as opposed to the raise he'd like to get, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (CBS.)

Archie: Ed Gardner. Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Possibly Florence Halop. Writers: Ed Gardner, Abe Burrows, possibly Larry Gelbart.


1892---Ezio Pinza (operatic tenor: The Telephone Hour; Ezio Pinza's Children's Show; Stagestruck; The Big Show), Rome.
1897---Frank Capra (director: Gulf Screen Theater; NBC Theater; Lux Radio Theater), Bisacquino, Sicily.
1900---Raymond Paige (conductor: Hollywood Hotel; Musical Americana; Stage Door Canteen), Wausau, Wisconsin.
1904---Fred Shields (actor: Tarzan), Kansas City.
1907---Sir Clifford Curzon (pianist: March of Dimes), London.
1908---Ted Malone (commentator: Between the Bookends; Pilgrimage of Poetry), Colorado Springs.
1912---Perry Como (as Pierino Ronald Como; singer: The Chesterfield Supper Club; The Perry Como Program), Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
1922---Bill Macy (as Wolf Marvin Gabler; actor: Earplay), Revere, Massachussetts; Kai Winding (jazz trombonist: One Night Stand; Jubilee), Aarhus, Denmark.
1924---Jack Whitaker (disc jockey/sportscaster: Jack the Bachelor; Sports Shorts), Philadelphia.
1931---Robert Morse (actor: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Newton, Iowa.
1936---Joel Kupperman (panelist: The Quiz Kids), Chicago.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"More Fun When The Answer Was Wrong": The Way It Was, 17 May

1938---And speaking of Clifton Fadiman, the old-time radio show that will make him a household name---with a panel of known experts who just so happen to be rather witty in their own right, including erudite journalists John F. Kieran and Franklin P. Adams, trying to answer brain-benders submitted by listeners themselves---premieres today on NBC's Blue Network: Information, Please.

The show, a sort of Algonquin Round Table of the air . . . was thought up by Dan Golenpaul, hmself a pretty bright guy who put on lectures and public-service programs and devised the first broadcasting magazine called, yes, The Magazine of the Air . . . Golenpaul's idea for Information, Please came out of his frustrations at listening to MCs give contestants a hard time for blowing answers. He once explained, "A bit sadistic, I thought. I wish I had these quizmasters and so-called experts in front of me. I'd like to ask them some questions. They're probably not much brighter than the average person."

---Gerald Nachman, from "Minds Over Matter," in Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

The show will make a star, too, out of pianist Oscar Levant, whose withering wit will give his music career a bump and make him a personality in his own right. Guest panelists for the always-revolving fourth chair will include Gracie Allen (laugh if you must but the lady was no dope), Harpo Marx (you guessed it: he answered with his famous taxi horn), Fred Allen (a frequent guest panelist), Deems Taylor (musician and music critic), Grantland Rice (sportswriting legend), Russell Crouse (playwright), and even baseball legends Red Barber, Lefty Gomez, and Larry MacPhail.

[A] quiz show turned into a four-man conversation, sometimes good, sometimes ragged, always real. I was well aware that my own talents were as nothing compared with those of Frank Adams, Oscar Levant, or John Kieran. But I was also well aware that I was so placed as to be able to do one thing better than they could do it themselves. That one thing was to prod them into being Adams, Levant, and Kieran.

---Clifton Fadiman.

It was generally more fun when the answer was wrong, especially if the culprit tried to wriggle out of it. An uproarious error or a brilliant bit of irrelevance was rated far above any dull delivery of truth.

---John Kieran, from his memoirs.

One of Information, Please's unsung heroes: a Brooklyn high school teacher upon whom Golenpaul calls for factual and referential assistance, a teacher who believes what the show comese to exude behind the witty repartee: "that Brahms, Jefferson, Shelley, and baseball could and indeed should fascinate equally"---as his far more famous son would recall years later.

The teacher is Gordon Kahn, who will die a year after Information, Please's radio demise. But his son grows up to become a respected sportswriter and, in time, the man who may have done the most to graduate the Brooklyn Dodgers from memory to mythology: Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer.


1948: GEM OF PUREST RAY---Mass murderer Dr. Moraitas (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) stuns police with the subterranean conspiracy theory that underwrites his motive, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Additional cast: Morton Lawrence, Terita Bauer, Ed McSaley. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.

1950: COLLEGE BOUND---As final examinations bring an odd calm to the campus, Vicki (Benita Hume Colman) longs for a summer vacation she thinks Hall (Ronald Colman) has earned but he fears he can't quite afford, while the campus plots a surprise for Abel Kanter (Sam Hearn), on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC.)

Mike Kanter: Sam Edwards. Writers: Don Quinn, Nat Wolfe.


1890---Philip James (composer/conductor: Bamberger Little Symphony; Wellsprings of Music), Jersey City.
1902---Fausto Cleva (conductor: NBC Symphony Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera Auditions), Trieste, Italy.
1903---Artie Auerbach (actor: The Jack Benny Program), New York City.
1905---John Patrick (writer: Theater Guild On the Air), Louisville.
1906---Carl McIntire (evangelist: Twentieth Century Reformation Hour), Ypsilanti, Michigan.
1907---Horace McMahon (actor: Crime Does Not Pay), South Norwalk, Connecticut.
1911---Maureen O'Sullivan (actress: Dreft Star Playhouse; Family Theater), Boyle, Ireland.
1920---Harriet Van Horne (critic/actress: The Adventures of Ellery Queen), Syracuse, New York.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You're Gonna Be A Biiiiii-iii-iiig Star, Mr. Gildersleeve: The Way It Was, 16 May

1941: THE JOHNSON WAX PROGRAM WITH . . . THROCKMORTON P. GILDERSLEEVE---That is precisely the way Harlow Wilcox announces it, to kick off the audition program for old-time radio's founding spinoff show.

The show: Stentorian Gildersleeve (Harold Peary, in the role he made a hit on Fibber McGee & Molly) bids a slightly pompous farewell to his girdle-making company employees before boarding a train from Wistful Vista to Summerfield, where he's the unexpected designated executor for his late brother- and sister-in-law's estate . . . and, the designated guardian to their precocious two children---assuming a local family court judge who's his equal for ornery can be reversed when he demands a large cash bond, in a battle of wits between the barely-armed. (NBC.)

Evelyn Forrester: Lurene Tuttle. (The character will be re-named Marjorie when the show is picked up as a regular series.) Leroy Forrester: Walter Tetley. Judge Hooker: Earle Ross. Writer: Leonard Levinson.

And, with a slight nip and tuck in the original script, this is the basic episode under which The Great Gildersleeve will premiere as a regular series come August, under the regular sponsorship of the Kraft Cheese Company.


1925: THE HORSY SET IS ON THE AIR---At least, those members who happened to be three years old and in the Churchill Downs starting gates for the Kentucky Derby, which is broadcast over a radio network for the first time, based from Louisville's WHAS.


1943: CHILE---Allen's Alley addresses raising chickens during a meat-rationing period, and a freshly-rising solo singer named Sinatra has to be convinced to sing a newly-written song ("Every schnook I meet thinks he's a songwriter!"), possibly before he'll be allowed to sing "She's Funny That Way," on tonight's edition of Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Portland Hoffa, John Brown, Charles Cantor, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed, Jimmy Wallington. Music: Al Goodman and His Orchestra, Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame. Writers: Fred Allen, Harry Tugend, Nat Hiken.


1882---Mary Gordon (actress: Those We Love; Sherlock Holmes), Glasgow, Scotland.
1905---Henry Fonda (actor: Eyes Aloft; Romance; Suspense; Family Theater), Grand Island, Nebraska.
1909---Margaret Sullavan (actress: Electric Theater; Hollywood Playhouse; Lux Radio Theater), Norfolk, Virginia.
1912---Studs Terkel (as Louis Terkel; journalist/occasional actor: Desintation Freedom; Ma Perkins), Bronx, New York.
1913---Woody Herman (as Woodrow Charles Herman, clarinetist/bandleader: The Wildroot Show), Milwaukee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A People's Intellectual: The Way It Was, 15 May

1904: "YOU SEE MORE IN YOU"---Editor for Simon & Schuster, literary critic and decade-long editor of The New Yorker's book section, accessible by just about anyone thanks to his gentle wit, his lack of pretension, and the manner in which he will display both, as the long-running host of perhaps old-time radio's most genuinely intelligent quiz program, Information Please . . . on which the highbrow and the high laughs were equally at home. (Not for nothing will the show's guest panelists include the like of Fred Allen, Groucho Marx, Jack Haley, and baseball legend/clown Lefty Gomez, to say nothing of regulars John Kieran and Franklin P. Adams.)

Happy 103rd birthday to the man who said . . .

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before, you see more in you than there was before.

---Clifton Fadiman, whose other radio hosting credits include Conversation and The RCA Magic Key.


1938: MURDER IN THE LIBRARY---It isn't exactly Col. Mustard with the lead pipe, kiddies---but it's a parodic melodrama, and with this bunch you can just take it from there, happily, on tonight's edition of The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker, Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris and His Orchestra. Writers: George Balzer, Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin.

1940: RAH-RAH IN OMAHA---George (Burns) and Gracie (Allen) and her presidential campaign arrive at Omaha's Exarbin Coliseum in advance of the Surprise Party convention
on tonight's edition of The Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Show with George Burns and Gracie Allen. (.)

Additional cast: Truman Bradley, Bubbles Kelly. Music: Ray Noble and the Union Pacific Band, Frank Parker. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

1949: FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH---"I don't need any special day to be unlucky," laments Connie (Eve Arden)---whose Friday the Thirteenth made mere "unlucky" resemble a mere spilled drink, on tonight's edition of Our Miss Brooks. (CBS.)

Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Stretch: Leonard Stern. Conklin: Gale Gordon. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Writer: Al Lewis.

1949: THE LITTLE MORNING---Hitchhiking Francis Scott (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates), grateful for a pre-dawn lift, tells his driver about seeing his fiancee again . . . a year to the day after she died in a hill fire that destroyed all adjacent homes, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (ABC.)

Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.


1890---Menasha Skulnik (actor: The Goldbergs; Abie's Irish Rose), Warsaw.
1905---Joseph Cotten (actor: The Private Files of Matthew Bell; Mercury Theater On the Air), Petersburg, Virginia.
1909---James Mason (actor: The James & Pamela Mason Show; Studio One; The Fred Allen Show), Huddersfield, U.K.
1910---Constance Cummings (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Seattle.
1916---Bill Williams (actor: Eternal Light; Screen Guild Theater; Lux Radio Theater), Brooklyn.
1918---Eddy Arnold (singer, "The Tennessee Plowboy": Checkerboard Square; The Eddy Arnold Show), Henderson, Tennessee; Joseph Wiseman (actor: Crime Does Not Pay), Montreal.
1923---Doris Dowling (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Detroit.
1936---Anna Maria Alberghetti (singer: Here's to Veterans), Pesano, Italy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Break's Over: The Way It Was, 11-14 May

That was a decent enough rest period. Now, back to business.


13 MAY 1945: CELEBRATING IN EUROPE, PRESSING ON IN THE PACIFIC---Robert Trout anchors a CBS World News Today report addressing continuing celebrations of the end of the war in Europe, progress in the war in the Pacific, and rumours that former S.S. commander in chief Heinrich Himmler had been seized.


14 MAY 1976---World-girdling broadcaster Lowell Thomas ends forty-six years on radio with his final broadcast, fifteen months after the death of his first wife.

14 MAY 2006---One-time old-time radio singer (with the Honey Dreamers), but known best as the third and final Clarabell on television's Howdy Doody, Lew Anderson dies at age 86 of complications from prostate cancer at his Hawthorne, New York home.


11 MAY 1941: COME ON, GANG, LET'S TAKE THIS OUT---Lena Horne and Erskine Butterfield and a little dip into the blues are the highlights on tonight's edition of Cats and Jammers. (Mutual.)

12 MAY 1948: EARLY GOLF---Assuming Ethel (Peg Lynch) can wake him at all, that's why Albert (Alan Bunce) wanted to get up early in the first place, until half a sleepless night, anyway, on tonight's edition of Ethel & Albert. (ABC.)

Suzy: Madeleine Pierce. Aunt Eva: Margaret Hamilton. Writer: Peg Lynch.

13 MAY 1941: JANE SMASHES THE CAR---With two marital separations---both tied to Betty (Ethel Blume)'s leaving Carl (unknown) over their baby's name---and with Jane (Ace) trying to make profits by buying and selling her own furniture at auction, (Goodman) Ace borrows Carl's car to go back to the house, Jane has to back Betty's car out before she can take Ace's car to the Neff apartment, and they all end up a smash hit, on tonight's edition of Easy Aces. (CBS.)

Marge: Mary Hunter. Writer: Goodman Ace.

14 MAY 1946: CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK---It isn't Amos 'n' Andy, kiddies---it's an apparent check-kiting scheme hitting the Sentinel itself, after Reid (Bob Hall) discovers forged checks written on the Sentinel payroll accounts, on today's edition of The Green Hornet. (ABC.)

Miss Case: Lee Allman. Axford: Gil Shea. Kato: Rollon Parker. Writer: Fran Striker.


11 MAY

1892---Dame Margaret Rutherford (actress: The Wisdom of Miss Marple; Theater Guild On the Air), London.
1899---Forrest Lewis (actor: The Great Gildersleeve; Vic & Sade), Knightstown, Indiana.
1907---Kent Taylor (actor: Hollywood Hotel), Nashua, Iowa.
1911---Phil Silvers (as Philip Silver; comedian/actor: Screen Guild Theater; Suspense), Brooklyn; Doodles Weaver (as Winstead Sheffield Weaver; comedian: The Spike Jones Show), Los Angeles.
1912---Foster Brooks (announcer/comedian: Melody, Incorporated; The Foster Brooks Show), Louisville.
1930---Marilyn King (singer, with the King Sisters: Horace Heidt and His Brigadiers; Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge), Salt Lake City.

12 MAY

1892---John Barclay (singer/actor: Palmolive Beauty Box Theater; The Guiding Light), Blethlingly, Surrey, U.K.
1894---Leora Thatcher (actress: The Right to Happiness), Logan Utah.
1901---Whitey Ford (as Benjamin Francis Ford; comedian, "The Duke of Paducah": Grand Ole Opry; Plantation Party), De Soto, Missouri (not to be confused with baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, born in New York City as Edward Charles Ford); Scrappy Lambert (as Harold Lambert; singer, The Smith Brothers: Trade and Mark; Town Hall Tonight), New Brunswick.
1902---Philip Wylie (writer: This is War; The Sportsman's Club; Tomorrow; Lux Radio Theater), Beverly, Massachussetts.
1907---Katharine Hepburn (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Hartford, Connecticut.
1910---Gordon Jenkins (conductor/arranger/composer: Everythign for the Boys; The Bob Burns Show), Webster Groves, Missouri.
1914---Howard K. Smith (news reporter/anchor/commentator: CBS World News Today; CBS World News Roundup; Howard K. Smith News), Ferriday, Louisiana.
1924---Tony Hancock (comedian: Hancock's Half Hour), Birmingham, U.K.
1927---Suzanne Dalbert (actress: Command Performance; George Fisher Interviews the Stars), Paris.

13 MAY

1902---David Broekman (conductor: Mobil Magazine; Texaco Star Theater), Leiden, Netherlands.
1907---Dame Daphne du Maurier (writer: Campbell's Playhouse; Matinee Theater; Romance; Escape), London.
1909---Ken Darby (singer/conductor, with the King's Men: Fibber McGee & Molly), Hebron, Nebraska.
1912---Helen Craig (actress: Crime Does Not Pay), San Antonio, Texas.
1914---Joe Louis (heavyweight boxing champion: The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour; Freedom's People; The Fred Allen Show), Lafayette, Alabama.

14 MAY

1885---Otto Klemperer (conductor: The George Gershwin Memorial Program), Breslau, Germany.
1890---Carlton Brickert (actor: The Story of Mary Marlin; Thurston the Magician; announcer: Lum & Abner), Martinsville, Indiana.
1898---Zutty Singleton (drummer: Radio Almanac; Just Jazz; BBC Jazz Session), Bunkie, Louisiana.
1905---Herb Morrison (news reporter, and the man whose spot report of the Hindenburg disaster remains internationally famous; also: Call to Arms; The Good Ole Days of Radio), unknown.
1910---B.S. Pully (comedian: Command Performance; Mail Call), Newark, New Jersey; Paul Sutton (actor: Challenge of the Yukon), Albuquerque, New Mexico.
1919---Liberace (as Wladziu Valentino Liberace; pianist/vocalist: Stars for Defence), West Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1925---Patrice Munsel (singer: Prudential Family Hour; The Voice of Firestone; The Big Show), Spokane, Washington.
1926---Eric Morecambe (comedian, longtime partner of Ernie Wise: The Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise Radio Show), Lancashire, U.K.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"This Is A Moment I Want To Share With Me": The Way It Was, 10 May

1940---It may not be her first, but it will hold up as one of her best old-time radio appearances: film legend Marlene Dietrich ponders some "fatherly" career advice---including how less often she'll get clobbered on the air than on the screen ("Come into radio . . . In radio, there is no violence or rough stuff . . . you can get beaten up and kicked around in radio and not even feel it") from a certain ad-libbing satirist who shoos his boy tenor and his second bananette to one side to savour the interlude alone.

That'll teach him.

Dietrich wrings a laugh at said advisor's expense, when he tries to convince her to play in the radio soap Brave Betty Birnbaum. But she joins seriously enough with said advisor and the Texaco Workshop Players (nee the Mighty Allen Art Players) in a Yukon satire, "The Courting of Nasty and Nell."

Additional highlights include a ribbing of Jack Benny's earlier program; a "March of Trivia" review of sugar rationing; and, Fordham University undergraduate Donald Regan, voted most talented undergraduate by his campus peers in a sponsor's promotion

All of which you'll hear on tonight's edition of Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen. (CBS.)

Cast: Kenny Baker, Portland Hoffa, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed, Jimmy Wallington. Music: Al Goodman and His Orchestra. Writers: Fred Allen, Roland Fibbee, Nat Hiken, possibly Herman Wouk.


1945: HOLIDAY---A couple (Norman Field, Bea Benaderet) don't want their children to suspect their family cruise is more than just a vacation, despite the father's anxiety over the Chinese production project that's the real impetus behind the journey, on tonight's edition of Arch Oboler's Plays. (Mutual.)

Additional cast: Bill Christy, Rhoda Williams, Lou Merrill, Irene Tedrow, Joseph Granby, Mary Jane Croft, Raymond Severn, Bruce Elliott. Writer/director: Arch Oboler.

1948: THERE ARE SHADOWS HERE---A man (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) can't remember the name or look of a woman seeking him at his regular bar, and with good enough reason: no one sees her except in shadow, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Esther: Aline Sparrow. Paddy: Ed Lattimer. The Unnamed Writer: Sid Cassell. Frankie: Frank Thomas. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.


1888---Max Steiner (composer: Lux Radio Theater), Vienna.
1894---Frank Knight (actor/announcer: Arabesque; Literary Digest), St. John's, Newfoundland; Dmitri Tiomkin (composer/conductor: Last Man Out; 1947 March of Dimes Campaign), St. Petersburg, Russia.
1899---Fred Astaire (actor/dancer: The Fred Astaire Show), Omaha, Nebraska; Lois Holmes (actress: The Second Mrs. Burton), Galion, Ohio.
1909---Maybelle Carter (singer/guitarist/autoharpist, with the Carter Family: Grand Ole Opry), Nickelsville, Virginia.
1911---Lee Sullivan (singer: Serenade to America), New York City.
1914---Charles McGraw (actor: A Man Called X; Dragnet; Suspense), New York City.
1917---Margo (as María Marguerita Guadalupe Boldao y Castilla O'Donnell; actress: Suspense; Free Company), Mexico City.
1917---Nancy Walker (actress: Mail Call), Philadelphia.
1922---Mary Small (singer: Little Miss Bab-O's Surprise Party), Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"The City I Knew Was Gone": The Way It Was, 9 May

1945: "TODAY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, THEY SAW THE RESULTS FROM THE GROUND"---Returning to Berlin after three years' absence (on the order of Hitler's government), CBS News correspondent Howard K. Smith---one of the legendary "Murrow's Boys"---accompanies top Allied air commanders (including Army Air Force legend Carl Spaatz) and delivers a jarring report, for the Combined American Networks, on the manner in which Hitler's war finally invited the devastation of Berlin itself.

And, perhaps not to be outdone, Thomas Cadett of the BBC describes what remains of Hitler's Berlin bunker---not to mention what remains of, at least, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's longtime propaganda minister who actually served as chancellor of Germany . . . for a single day.


1944: MEN'S FASHION LECTURE---"You remember Theda Bara? Well, uh, Menjou was a fashion plate when she was still a dish." Also sprach Archieda Manageh to Duffy on the blower, before guest Adolphe Menjou makes a valiant attempt to deliver a men's fashion lecture to the local gendarmerie . . . written by Archie, of all people ("Da well dressed man must watch out how he garbs himself, 'cause he is always judges by his garbiage"), on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (CBS.)

Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Miss Duffy: Possibly Florence Halop. Writers: Ed Gardner, Abe Burrows.

1948: BREAK THE CONTESTANT---After lamenting a week for the apple and a mere day for the mother, suggesting reasons there should be a Be Kind to Humans Week, and gauging the Alley's satisfaction with the year's Pulitzer Prizes, here comes another gleeful barb in the craw of the metastasising meatheaded quiz show presence, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Guest star: Don McNeil (host of The Breakfast Club). Sen. Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus Moody: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Writers: Fred Allen, Harry Bailey, possibly Nat Hiken, Bob Weiskopf.

1960: THE MURDER OF THE MISSING EAVESDROPPER---Such is the case to be solved by "Mr. Trace, Keener Than Most Persons," among other cheerful insanities on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (Three guesses.)

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1887---William P. adams (actor: Collier's Hour; Let's Pretend), Tiffin, Ohio.
1895---Richard Barthelmass (actor: Lux Radio Theater), New York City.
1901---Fuzzy Knight (as John Forrest Knight; actor: Screen Guild Theater), Fairmont, West Virginia.
1911---Harry Simeone* (arranger/chorale leader: The Fred Waring Show; Columbia Presents Corwin), Newark, New Jersey.
1914---Hank Snow (singer: Grand Ole Opry), Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
1918---Mike Wallace (as Myron Leon Wallace; announcer: The Crime Files of Lamond; The Green Hornet; The Spike Jones Show), Brookline, Massachussetts.
1919---Eddie Manson (harmonica player: They Shall Be Heard), unknown.
1923---Byron Kane (as Byron Kaplan; actor: Gunsmoke; Broadway Is My Beat; Escape), Vermont.
1930---Joan Sims (as Irene Joan Marion Sims; actress: 'Round the Horne; Stop Messing About), Laindon, Essex, U.K.
1936---Glenda Jackson (actress: Stevie; panelist: Quote . . . Unquote), Cheshire, U.K.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"A Solemn, But Glorious Hour": The Way It Was, 8 May

1945---Now it's clear, officially and unequivocably, to pull the corks and let the party begin for V-E Day. Just so long as it isn't forgotten that there's still business coming in in the Pacific, that is . . .

"PEACE IN EUROPE . . . PEACE IN EUROPE . . . "---One of the classic old-time radio broadcasts: mild-mannered Mutual Broadcasting System commentator Gabriel Heatter, whose usual sign-on ("Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, there's good news tonight") took a new meaning entirely even if he doesn't use it, for once, as he ruminates on the moment the German surrender became final and official.

"THIS IS A SOLEMN BUT GLORIOUS HOUR"---So says President Truman, while cautioning against the complete celebration until the Pacific war is won, in an otherwise joyous announcement delivered to Congress and carried live on radio.

"TODAY WE GIVE THANKS"---So begins King George VI in an address to the U.K., originating from the BBC and carried on NBC.

REMEMBER . . . ---For those who died fighting the war, from Field Marshal Montgomery.

THE U.K. CELEBRATES---Prime Minister Churchill does, too.

"AN ATMOSPHERE OF CALM THANKSGIVING"---So said NBC News, Washington, opening this V-E Day special broadcast that includes comments from Fleet Admiral William E. Leahy; Gen. of the Army George C. Marshall, the Army's chief of staff; Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Fleet; Gen. of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force; Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean areas; Gen. of the Army H.H. (Hap) Arnold, commander-in-chief, Army Air Force; and, Gen. of the Arm Douglas MacArthur, commander-in-chief, U.S. Army Pacific forces.

THE HEARTY PARTIES---The BBC listens in on the revelry . . .


1940: AUNT CLARA'S KANGAROO---The trip to the Surprise Party convention will have to wait at least long enough to retrieve the train tickets---because the Surprise Party's Presidential candidate (Gracie Allen) gave the tickets to a stranger who wanted to be at the broadcast . . . not to mention assuring George (Burns) will tend Aunt Clara, on tonight's edition of The Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Program with Burns & Allen. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Frank Parker, Truman Bradley. Music: Ray Noble and His Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

1948: JUDY INTERVIEWS LANCELOT BUCKINGHAM---And to think it was supposed to begin with Buckingham interviewing Judy (Canova), on tonight's edition of The Judy Canova Show. (NBC.)

Pedro: Mel Blanc. Geranium: Ruby Dandridge. Additional cast: Hans Conreid, Gale Gordon, Joseph Kearns, Jess Kirkpatrick. Music: Charles Dann and His Orchestra, the Sportsmen. Writers: Fred Fox, Henry Hooper, John Ward.

1948: BABY FOOD---Last week, they handed me a rather distasteful assignment at the advertising agency where I work: they asked me to prepare an advertising campaign for a brand-new baby food that was due to come out on the market. They sent me a sample of the stuff. It looked like strained moss. And I'm sure no self-respecting baby in his right mind would ever walk into a restaurant and order this stuff.

So drawls (Goodman) Ace, on whose doorstep even a self-respecting baby might get himself left, the day Ace plans to bring a new baby food's maker home for a softening-up dinner, on tonight's edition of mr. ace and JANE. (CBS.)

Jane: Jane Ace. Norris: Eric Dressler. Sally: Florence Robinson. Agnes: Beatrice Karns. Fischer: John Driggs. The Ga-Ga Baby (you're not seeing things): Madeline Gibbs. Ken: Ken Roberts. Writer: Goodman Ace.

1949: MYSTERY SHOW (a.k.a. PETER LORRE)---To please a potential new sponsor, Dean (Martin) and Jerry (Lewis) agree to try a mystery show---which seems impossible until they spot guest Peter Lorre's theatrical opening and decide to try talking him into it, assuming they can get past his secretary, on tonight's edition of The Martin & Lewis Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Paul McMichael, Roger Price, Ed Herlihy. Music: Dick Stabile and His Orchestra. Writers: Ray Allen, Dick McKnight, Roger Price, Jim Whitney.

1949: MOTHER'S DAY PRESENT---Phil (Harris) balks at buying Alice (Faye) a mink for Mother's Day . . . until the six words guaranteed to send things from bad to worse---and jail---come from Remley (Elliott Lewis), on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Julius: Walter Tetley. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


1895---Fulton J. Sheen (bishop: The Catholic Hour), El Paso, Illinois.
1899---Arthur Q. Bryan (actor: Fibber McGee & Molly; The Great Gildersleeve), Brooklyn.
1901---Katherine Raht (actress: The Aldrich Family; Against the Storm), Chattanooga, Tennessee.
1910---Mary Lou Williams (jazz pianist/composer: The Mildred Bailey Show; Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy), Atlanta.
1913---Sid James (comedian: Hancock's Half Hour), Newcastle, South Africa.
1915---John Archer (actor: The Shadow; Gateway to Hollywood), Lincoln, Nebraska.
1919---Lex Barker (actor: MGM Theater of the Air), Rye, New York.
1926---Don Rickles (yes, that Don Rickles; announcer: NBC University Theater of the Air---believe it . . . or not), New York City.
1940---Ricky Nelson (as Eric Hilliard Nelson; actor: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), Teaneck, New Jersey.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Slouching Toward V-E Day: The Way It Was, 7 May

1945---With Hitler dead, the Nazi government in rump condition at best ("The Third Reich," William L. Shirer will write in due course, "will survive the death of its founder by ten days"), and German forces surrendered in all but the formal, official, once-and-for-all announcement from the Allies, it is now a question of if, not when the world can celebrate V-E Day.

As you might expect, old-time radio clings just as tenaciously to the question. And, as things turn out, at least one wire reporter clings firmly enough that he jumps the gun before anyone else---the supreme Allied military commanders and their respective chiefs of state come to mind immediately---is prepared to make it official, especially with a pocket or two of leftover fighting still to dissipate entirely.

It was something like pulling the corks before the champagne was certifiable as cold. But in one way you probably couldn't blame him . . .

"NO STRINGS ATTACHED"---The NBC bulletin, based on official word from San Francisco, of the unconditional German surrender to the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

" . . . WILL BE REGARDED AS A HOLIDAY"---With the toll of Big Ben as his haunting introduction, John Snagge of the BBC Home Service announces the possible formal announcement of Victory in Europe Day the following day.

"NOT UNTIL TOMORROW"---President Truman---who will make his announcement before a joint session of Congress---agrees with London and Moscow that their heads of state will not announce the formal end of the war in Europe until the three can make it simultaneous.

Recorded from an affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, this CBS News report cites Edward R. Murrow's note that Truman and Churchill were prepared to announce but Stalin, delayed in transit, was not.

Then comes the word of a soon-to-be-famous early Associated Press report by Edward J. Kennedy, detailing the surrender and V-E Day designation. The good news is that Kennedy has it nailed down cold. The bad news is that he jumped the gun on releasing the story, causing a mild uproar among Allied forces and the press wires alike, not to mention citizens around the world who've been waiting only too long to celebrate an end to the war in Europe.

The premature AP report (it gets the AP's filing privileges suspended for a brief period out of Supreme Allied Headquarters, prompting a mild debate on press freedom and responsibility) nearly obscures a report on U.S. Third Army forces nearing Prague, Czechoslovakia, and reports of isolated, lingering fighting as the war in Europe winds down . . .

"A LAMENTABLE DAY"---Mutual Broadcasting System flagship WOR's on-the-money analysis of the Kennedy/AP gaffe, the premature (but not inaccurate) V-E Day dispatch.

The report also describes Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army (specifically, the fourth armoured division) approaching Prague, to rescue a citizen army from lingering German fighting defying Doenitz's surrender orders; remaining German forces in Norway preparing for internment in Sweden; and Allied landings in Scandinavia, all to help wind the war down and shut.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces advance in Okinawa and elsewhere in the continuing war in the Pacific. And Congressional Republicans fail to block Democratic National Committee chairman Robert E. Hannigen---like Truman a product of Kansas City's infamous Pendergast political machine---as the next U.S. Postmaster General fails.


1941: A REALLY SOLID TENNESSEE EXCURSION---Trombonist/bandleader Glenn Miller---who orients much of his working schedule around his regular radio performances---records the song that becomes perhaps his second signature song (behind "Moonlight Serenade," of course), "Chattanooga Choo-Choo." Miller and company cut the Mack Gordon-Harry Warren composition just over three months after the bandleader signed what was the most lucrative recording contract to date---$750 per side/song with RCA Victor Records.

The label's faith will be justified soon enough: Come 29 November 1941, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" will knock Freddy Martin and His Orchestra out of the number one hole on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores survey and hog the position for the rest of the calendar year.


1942: CLEARING THINGS UP BEFORE MOTHER'S DAY---Clarifying motherhood and other cheerfully insane observations, musings, and indulgences, on tonight's edition of Here's Morgan. (Mutual.)

Writer, such as he was (since more than half the show was ad-libbed): Henry Morgan.

1944: THE CAMPAIGN HEATS UP---Relaxing in his water commission office, Gildersleeve's (Harold Peary) reverie over a letter from Eve (Bea Benaderet) is rudely interrupted by a blaring reminder that a mayoral campaign doesn't take time off even for the first day of spring, especially when Peavey (Richard LeGrand) won't take down his drugstore window sign endorsing the incumbent, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Hooker: Earle Ross. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Writers: Sam Moore, John Whedon.

1947: SALUTE TO THE OLD SCHOOL---Modern, progressive education may never recover---and neither might the sponsor ("The Eversharp Schick Injector Blade . . . it's educational---try one, that'll teach you"), after tonight's edition of The Henry Morgan Show. (ABC.)

Additional cast: Arnold Stang, Florence Halop, Madeline Lee, possibly Art Carney. Music: Bernie Green and His Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Joe Stein, Aaron Ruben, Carroll Moore, Jr.


1884---Gloria Gordon (actress: My Friend Irma; The Halls of Ivy), unknown.
1885---Gabby Hayes (as George Hayes; actor: The Andrews Sisters' Eight to the Bar Ranch; The Roy Rogers Show), Wellsville, New York.
1892---Archibald MacLeish (writer: Columbia Workshop), Glencoe, Illinois.
1900---Ralph Truman (actor: BBC Home Theatre), London.
1901---Gary Cooper (as Frank James Cooper; actor: Lux Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater; Family Theater), Helena, Montana.
1906---Jack Johnstone (writer/producer/director: Buck Rogers; CBS Radio Workshop), unknown.
1908---Edmund MacDonald (actor: Big Town; Murder Will Out; Old Gold Comedy Theater; Box 13), Massachussetts.
1915---Win Elliot (sports announcer, emcee: Fish Pond; County Fair; Quick as a Flash), Chelsea, Massachussetts.
1923---Anne Baxter (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Michigan City, Indiana.
1931---Teresa Brewer (as Theresa Breuer; singer: Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour; The Steve Allen Show, Toledo, Ohio.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pitching Vouz and Other Charms: The Way It Was, 6 May

1951---Season One of old-time radio's greatest last-gasp variety program ends with a wallop enough, thanks to an energetically witty cast---including Fred Allen ("My present sponsor, the unemployment bureau"), George Jessel ("Try not to think of it as losing a show, try to think of it as gaining an hour and a half"), and Groucho Marx.

LUCIENNE BOYER (French chanteuse): Caman ale vouz, Monsieur Marx.
GROUCHO: Well, coman---that's the old come on . . . ale, well, everybody knows what an alley is . . . and, vouz, that can mean only one thing---so caman out in the ale and let's pitch some vouz.

Some of the show's sharper comedy to date is enough to make you forgive them (almost) the saccharine pre-ending and Margaret Truman's singing (though she proves a capable enough straightwoman), on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Hostess: Tallulah Bankhead. Additional cast: Portland Hoffa, Ginger Rogers. Music: Meredith Willson and His Orchestra, the Big Show Chorus. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Frank Wilson.


1937---What was intended to be a mere transcribed report of the first American landing of the year, an experiment in pre-recording a news event for delayed broadcast, becomes a legend of old-time radio spot reporting: WLS correspondent Herbert Morrison's eyewitness account of the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Seventy years to the day after the mammoth airship went from quiet alignment above the Lakehurst Naval Air Station mooring mast to crashing inferno, Morrison's report---from calm, near-routine description to emotional combustion at least the equal of the two bursts that ignited and felled the Hindenburg---continues to grip, even if the recording so familiar to radio buffs and historians alike may have been speeded up in the translation. (In due course, a version of the recording played at proper speed will allow listeners to hear clearly enough the shock wave from the major blast that took down the Hindenburg.)

That said, the report may still inspire reporters born years after the event on how it should be done. As for Herb Morrison himself, he will leave WLS a year after his most famous assignment to take a job with Mutual Broadcasting System. The Pennsylvania-born Morrison (1906-1989) will live in West Virginia, near Cheat Lake outside Morgantown, after he retires.


1945: HIRED WIFE---Adapted from the 1940 film, a secretary (Joan Bennett, in the Rosalind Russell role) who married an ad executive (Robert Paige, in the Brian Ahern role) to help him protect his money during a major deal won't let him fire---er, divorce her to pursue a model, on tonight's edition of The Old Gold Comedy Theater. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Edmund McDonald. Based on the story by George Beck and screenplay by Richard Connell. Host/director: Harold Lloyd.

1946: OVERWEIGHT---Home movies after dinner remind Liz (Lucille Ball) and Iris (Bea Benaderet) too much of the lean years---theirs, driving them to diet and their snack-sneaking husbands to wagering on them, on tonight's edition of My Favourite Husband. (CBS.)

George: Richard Denning. Rudolph: Gale Gordon. Katie: Ruth Paret. Writers: Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh, Jess Oppenheimer.

1947: OIL STOCK---Buying some in a pique of spring fever that has him longing to marry Betty (Mary Jane Croft) in style, Mel (Blanc, who also plays Zookie---using the famous Porky Pig voice) learns the hard way (doesn't he always?) that it's as phony as a forty dollar bill, on tonight's edition of The Mel Blanc Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Elvia Allman, Hans Conried, Joseph Kearns, Earle Ross. Music: Victor Miller and His Orchestra, the Sports Men. Writer: Mack Benoff.


1899---Billy Cotton (bandleader: Wakey, Wakey), London.
1900---Dave Elman (host: Hobby Lobby), Park River, North Dakota.
1906---Mathilde Ferror (writer: Lorenzo Jones), unknown.
1908---Harry (Parkyakarkus) Einstein (comedian: The Eddie Cantor Show; The Al Jolson Show; Meet Me at Parkys), Boston.
1910---Alice Reinheart (actress: Casey, Crime Photographer; The Abbott Mysteries), Denver.
1911---Frank Nelson (actor/comedian: Jeff Regan, Investigator; The Jack Benny Program), Denver.
1912---Bill Quinn (actor: Against the Storm; When a Girl Marries), New York City.
1913---Carmen Cavallaro (pianist/bandleader: The Schaefer Revue; Tums Tune Time), New York City; Stewart Granger (actor: Lux Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater), London.
1915---Orson Welles (as George Orson Welles; writer/director/actor: Columbia Workshop; Mercury Theater on the Air; The Shadow; Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen; The Fred Allen Show; The Jack Benny Program; Orson Welles's Almanac; This Is My Best), Kenosha, Wisconsin.