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.

Never Forget Those We've Lost

Death, as it must, came in 2007 to a number of people who contributed to making the old-time radio experience a joy for those who lived it as it was, and a pleasure to those who know it now not (see this journal's motto) as clanking nostalgia but as living, breathing art. Saluting them once more:

BOB CARROLL, JR., 27 JANUARY---He first helped Lucy get the laughs when he teamed with fellow writers Madelyn Pugh and Jess Oppenheimer for My Favourite Husband.

FRANKIE LAINE, 6 FEBRUARY---The big voice made his bones on New York WINS in the 1940s; when the big voice began to nail the big hits, he became a big enough and frequent enough guest on Tallulah Bankhead's The Big Show.

EDDIE FIRESTONE, JR., 1 MARCH---That original Brewster boy also spent time playing Seymour on The Goldbergs and hopping from radio soap to radio soap, including One Man's Family, Hawthorne House, The Story of Mary Marlin, and Woman in White.

NELLIE LUTCHER, 8 JUNE---Legendary jazz and rhythm and blues pianist/vocalist (as a child, she backed blues legend Ma Rainey) who caught her big break when Frank Bull put her on a benefit broadcast for KFWB Los Angeles in the mid-1940s---catching the ear of Capitol Records executive Dave Dexter and launching an influential ("Hurry On Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy" were her big hits) if short-enough lived recording career.

DONALD HERBERT, 12 JUNE---Mr. Wizard wasn't just for television---Herbert had acted and written for numerous Chicago-based radio shows after returning from World War II (with a Distinguished Flying Cross among other honours) before becoming the editor and interviewer for the children's radio health documentary, It's Your Life.

TERESA BREWER, 17 OCTOBER---Spitfire pop hitmaker of "Ricochet" and "Music, Music, Music" (among others) in the early 1950s, her brassy voice belying her diminutive figure, a long string of radio appearances before she was out of her teens. Later---after retiring to raise her family---she earned a reputation as a solid jazz singer; among other things, she sang with Duke Ellington for the last recording sessions of his lifetime.

DEBORAH KERR, 20 OCTOBER---Disciplined elegance and subtle daring. She joined Van Heflin and Walter Pidgeon as their leading lady for episodes of Lux Radio Theater; she joined Ray Milland as his leading lady for Screen Guild Theater; she was part of the unforgettable seventh installment of The Big Show---with Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Frankie Laine, Martin & Lewis, and Dorothy McGuire.

The art never dies, even if the artist, alas, must . . .

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A One-Man Mystery Monarch: The Way It Was, 30 December

1933: FROM THE BOUNDLESS EVERYWHERE---A one-man show with a one-of-a-kind (for its time) sponsor's tag. Such was Majestic's Master of Mystery, premiering tonight and starring Maurice Joachim as the sole performer---reading the stories and performing all the evening's roles.

The one-of-a-kind sponsor's tag was in the show's introduction.

In the majesty of motion, from the boundless everywhere, comes the magic name - Majestic... mighty monarch of the air!

Majestic Radio, having enjoyed share enough of the radio market in the 1920s, dreams up the introduction as their idea of a clever grabber to reinvigorate the brand's sales.


1942: NO CRIME TO BE MIXED UP IN MURDER---It begins as a light comedy but turns swiftly enough into playing the crime theme for laughs and romances. Mr. and Mrs. North, with Joseph Curtin and Alice Frost in the title roles, premieres on NBC and, once it switches the congenial couple toward crime solving, becomes a swift ratings rival to Mr. District Attorney.


1941: FIX-IT McGEE---Molly (Marian Jordan, who also plays Mrs. Wearybottom) has reason enough to fret when she sees that look in McGee's (Jim Jordan) eye---the look of a man itching to fix things, regardless of whether they need it, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Mrs. Uppington: Amanda Randolph. LaTrivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

1945: THE END OF THE CONTEST---That would be the "I Can't Stand Jack Benny Contest," of course, the entries from which rather amaze the wry protagonist while amusing his companions, including Mary's (Livingstone) parrot whom he struggles to teach to say "Happy New Year," on tonight's edition of The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Cast: Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

1955: THE FORBES MATTER (CONCLUSION)---Dollar (Bob Bailey) confronts Sheldon Forbes (Jack Edwards), who stole nearly five thousand dollars trying to win a singing actress (Sandra Gould) with no apparent interest in him---and who ended up in the hospital following a suicide attempt, all of which provoke the woman to an unexpected decision, on tonight's edition of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. (CBS.)

Writer: John Dawson.

1956: HOUND DOG---Doc (Howard McNear) loses a patient---a spotted dog whose shooting death makes Matt (William Conrad) fear for its owner's life, on tonight's edition of Gunsmoke. (CBS; rebroadcast: Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.)

Chester: Parley Baer. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: George Walsh. Writer: Les Crutchfield.


1885---Ed Jerome (actor: Blackstone, the Magic Detective), New York City.
1894---Vincent Lopez (bandleader: Luncheon with Lopez), Brooklyn.
1899---Michael Raffetto (actor: One Man's Family; I Love a Mystery), Placerville, California.
1900---Everett Marshall (singer: Broadway Vanities), Lawrence, Massachussetts.
1911---Jeanette Nolan (actress :One Man's Family; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), Los Angeles.
1912---Nancy Coleman (actress: Young Doctor Malone), Everett, Washington; Hugh Griffith (actor: Under Milk Wood), Mariangalas, Anglesley, North Wales.
1914---Bert Parks (as Bert Jacobsen; singer/comedian: The Eddie Cantor Show; host: Break the Bank; Stop the Music; Double or Nothing), Atlanta.
1922---Bert Holland (actor: Shorty Bell), unknown.
1927---Bernard Barrow (actor: Golden Door), New York City.
1931---Skeeter Davis (as Mary Frances Penick; singer: Barnyard Frolics; Grand Ole Opry), Dry Ridge, Kentucky.
1935---Sandy Koufax (as Sanford Braun; Hall of Fame baseball player: Tops in Sports), Brooklyn.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Get the Signals: The Way It Was, 29 December

1891: EDISON'S TRANSMISSION---It may or may not become the most immediately identifiable patent with his name on it, but today Thomas Edison receives a patent for electric transmission of signals---also known as radio transmission---developed by himself and his famous Menlo Park team of inventors and researchers.


1945: IT STARTED HERE . . . WE THINK---Ranked in due course as Number 99 on the invaluable Elizabeth McLeod's ranking of the one hundred old-time radio moments of the 20th Century, Truth or Consequences host Ralph Edwards probably launches the era of home audience participation when he introduces the mystery voice known as Mr. Hush to his studio audience and his listeners.

Among those who will be the mystery voices will be former world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, (as Mrs. Hush, of course) silent screen legend Clara Bow, and (as Miss Hush) dance pioneer Martha Graham.

As a matter of fact, Time will describe the happy recaps of the three Truth or Consequences who guessed the three Hushes aforesaid, in a May 1948 article, "So They Took The $17,000."

¶ Mrs. William H. McCormick of Lock Haven, Pa. has taken up public life since winning the $17,590 Mrs. Hush (Clara Bow) contest. "A lot of civic groups asked me to make speeches. I ran for the school board and made it. If I hadn't won the contest the town never would have put a woman on the school board." At first Mrs. McCormick was a cynosure: "People arrived from hundreds of miles around, just to look at me. They made pilgrimages . . . If I didn't come to the door, they peered in the windows."

¶ Richard Bartholomew, 25, who identified Mr. Hush (Jack Dempsey), got "an awful lot of letters, from people wanting me to do favors for them. A couple of women actually proposed . . . Lots of girls wrote in for a pair of nylons." But Bartholomew gave his nylons to his mother and his girl friend, distributed most of his prizes to his family. Then he went back to the University of Michigan, where he is working for a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Last summer he got married, took a free honeymoon trip to Banff. "It was very beautiful, even more so than we'd expected. I guess it was the gift I appreciated most. It was the one we got the most use out of."

¶ Mrs. Ruth Annette Subbie, of Fort Worth, who guessed Miss Hush (Martha Graham), has sold six of her 21 prizes, but she wrote an "enthusiastic letter" to every manufacturer who donated something. She exchanged the $1,500 beaver coat for three $500 coats—and gave each of her two daughters one. Her home has been transformed by the Venetian blinds, Bendix home laundry, Tappan range and television set. She has since won two $10 radio prizes and a radio console. But she is no professional, she insists; it's just her hobby.

Your chronicler hopes that Lock Haven, Pennsylvania schools had nothing but benefit from Mrs. McCormick's Hush-inspired tenure, that the Richard Bartholomews (assuming they are still alive) have enjoyed a long and happy marriage and life together; and, that Mrs. Subbie's daughters have been as wonderful to her as was she to they.

1980: THERE'S LESS FOR YOUR RADIO LIFE THROUGH SEARS---Another late attempt to revive the spirit, if not necessarily the letter, of old-time radio begins to die, when what remains of the Mutual Broadcasting System cancels the nightly Mutual Radio Theater, following a very short season after the network buys it from CBS, on which it was known as Sears Radio Theater.

You could almost have called it The Mickey Mouse Radio Theater, considering how the series was designated rather like the ancient television Mickey Mouse Club, more or less: Monday night was "Western Night" (hosted by former Bonanza star Lorne Greene); Tuesday, "Comedy Night" (host: Andy Griffith); Wednesday, "Mystery Night" (host: Vincent Price); Thursday, "Love and Hate Night" (host: Cicely Tyson); and, Friday, "Adventure Night" (host: Richard Widmark, then Howard Duff).

But you couldn't say they didn't try . . .


1944: NOT INVITED TO THE PARTY---The party would be a New Year's Eve party, the host would be a Harlem society patron whose daughter Andy (Charles Correll) dated "once or twice," and Andy only thinks he's the only one among the usual gang who's been invited, on tonight's edition of The Amos 'n' Andy Show. (NBC.)

Miss Blue: Madaline Lee. Amos: Freeman Gosden. Shorty: Lou Lubin. Ruby: Elinor Harriot. Arbadella: Terry Howard. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll, Bob Connolly, Bob Mosher.

1947: RAIN ON NEW YEAR'S EVE---A deadline-crunching screenwriter (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) asked to create a second monster for his film script imagines fatefully what it must be like to be such a monster---who only has his powers for the year's final hour, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Mary Lou: Muriel Kirkland. Dody: J. Pat O'Malley. Music: Albert Buhrmann. Writer: Wyllis Cooper.

1953: EXCHANGING GIFTS AT THE BON TON---It's hard enough for most mortals but a genuine chore for the McGees (Jim & Marian Jordan), when they need to exchange a slightly impractical Christmas gift from Doc (Arthur Q. Bryan), on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Mrs. Timsdale: Jody Collins. Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.

1959: CHARLIE CHU, ORIENTAL SLEUTH---Much like Fred Allen with his longtime "One Long Pan" sketches, those two zany characters of many characters couldn't resist satirising---albeit a little more gently---Charlie Chan in all his guises, sending their satirical gumshoe and his number one boy to solve the Case of the Ugly Entry, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (No peeking . . .)

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1892---Emory Parnell (actor: The Grouch Club; The Eddie Bracken Show; Lux Radio Theater), St. Paul.
1894---Harry Lang (actor: Blondie & Dagwood; The Cisco Kid), New York City.
1898---Jules Bledsoe (baritone: Amalgamated Broadcasting System Inaugural Program), unknown; Pat Padgett (comedian: Show Boat; Model Minstrels), Atlanta.
1904---Wendell Niles (announcer: The Burns & Allen Show; The Chase & Sanborn Hour; The Bob Hope Show; A Man Called X; Hollywood Star Playhouse), Twin Valley, Minnesota.
1920---Viveca Lindfors (as Elsa Viveca Torstensdotter Lindfors; actress: U.S. Steel Hour), Uppsala, Sweden.

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Relax: The Way It Is, 28 December

So nothing of earthshattering historical import regarding radio (old-time or otherwise) occurred on this date? You know the proverbial drill: Relax. Recline. Listen. And, listen again . . .


1945: BALANCING THE BOOKS---Fearing the worst when the boss hires an accountant to go over the bar's books, edgy Archie (Ed Gardner) wangles a tavern gig for The $64 Question (featuring guest Garry Moore) to use the prize to balance the books, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (NBC.)

Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Writers: Ed Gardner, Larry Gelbart, possibly Larry Marks.

1947: SUING TO RETURN A CUCKOO CLOCK---That's what Fred (Allen) lets Monty Woolley talk him into doing---because the cuckoo comes out of his house backward---after he can't get the store where it was bought to take it back after Christmas, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Portland: Portland Hoffa. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus Moody: Parker Fenelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Robert Weiskopf.


1887---Charles Dingle (actor: Meet the Dixons), Wabash, Indiana.
1890---Frank Butler (actor: Mr. Chameleon), Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK.
1903---Earl (Fatha) Hines (pianist/composer/bandleader: Chamber Music of Lower Basin Street), Duquesne, Pennsylvania.
1905---Cliff Arquette (actor: Myrt & Marge), Toledo, Ohio.
1908---Lew Ayres (actor: Dr. Kildare), Minneapolis.
1909---Olan Soule (actor: Bachelor's Children; Joan and Kermit), La Harpe, Illinois.
1914---Lee Bowman (actor: Life in Your Hands; My Favourite Husband), Cincinnati.
1915---Dick Joy (announcer: My Secret Ambition; The Saint; Adventures of Sam Spade), Putnam, Connecticut.
1923---Andrew Duggan (actor: Hollywood Radio Theater; The Voice of the Army; Top Secret), Franklin, Indiana.
1927---Martin Milner (actor: Dragnet), Detroit.
1929---Brian Redhead (host: A World in Edgeways; Today (U.K.); From Plato to NATO), Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pardon Me, Boy: The Way It Was, 27 December

1939---The Glenn Miller Show, a fifteen-minute offering featuring the rising trombonist/arranger/bandleader in his own old-time radio showcase, premieres on CBS.


1947: A TICKET TO PORTABILITY---Bell Laboratories' John Bardeen, William Shockley*, and Walter Houser Brattain invent the transistor, which many consider the 20th Century's most important invention, and which will put radio into massive portability mode within a very few years of its invention---after the first transistor radio is introduced by Intermetall at the 1952 Dusseldorf Radio Fair; and, after Regency Division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates (Indianapolis) produces the first commercial transistor radio in 1954.


1939: DR. ALLEN'S CLINIC---After spoofing the opening of Gone With the Wind and "interviewing" humourist Robert Benchley, three from the audience host a roundtable chat with the master on whether spouses should vacation together after each year's together; and, the Mighty Allen Art Players (John Brown, Charles Cantor, Minerva Pious, Walter Tetley) spoof the analyst's office, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show (An Hour of Smiles). (NBC.)

With Portland Hoffa. Announcer: Harry Von Zell. Music: Peter Van Steeden Orchestra, Wynn Murray. Writers: Fred Allen, Arnold Auerbach, Herman Wouk.

1942: LEROY MAKES NITRO---Leroy's (Walter Tetley) anxiety to experiment with his new Christmas present---a chemistry set---may just be enough to make Gildy (Harold Peary) explode, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.


1879---Sydney Greenstreet (actor: Adventures of Nero Wolfe; Hollywood Star Preview), Sandwich, UK.
1893---Ann Pennington (actress: Good News of 1938), Camden, New Jersey.
1901---Marlene Dietrich (as Marie Magdalene Dietrich; actress: Cafe Istanbul; Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen; Lux Radio Theater), Berlin.
1906---Oscar Levant (pianist/panelist/raconteur: Information, Please; Kraft Music Hall; Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen; The Fred Allen Show), Pittsburgh.
1916---Cathy Lewis (actress: The First Nighter; The Great Gildersleeve; The Whistler; My Friend Irma; actress/producer/director: Suspense), Spokane, Washington.

* - This is, indeed, the same William Shockley who would become controversial, many years later, for his eugenics theories and published opinions---including that which stated his belief that individuals with IQs below 100 should be sterilised.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two Farewells: The Way It Was, 26 December

Two longtime old-time radio favourites air for the final times, in successive years . . .

1953---The Glens Falls Town Hall tower clock strikes for the final time as Big Sister, a CBS daytime mainstay since 1936, airs its final episode today, with Grace Matthews (the fifth to play the role) in the title role of self-sacrificing Ruth Evans Wayne and Fran Carden (the fourth to play the role) as younger sister Susan Evans Miller, one of several orphaned siblings for whom Ruth has cared before and after her own marriage.

ANNOUNCER: Rinso presents . . . Big Sister.
SFX: (Tower clock begins to strike)
ANNOUNCER: Yes, there's the clock in Glens Falls Town Hall, telling us it's time for Rinso's story of Big Sister.

---The show's standard introduction.

Alice Frost originated the title role in 1936, with Haila Stoddard as the original Sue. The other three actresses who played Ruth were Nancy Marshall, Marjorie Anderson, and Mercedes McCambridge; the other two who played Sue were Dorothy McGuire and Peggy Conklin.

The show was created by Lillian Lauferty and written by Julian Funt, Robert Newman, Carl Bixby, and Bill Sweets and sponsored for most of its life by Rinso detergents. It also had the distinction of becoming one of the radio soaps analysed academically enough, by University of Chicago researchers W. Lloyd Warner and William E. Henry, even if CBS instigated the project in a bid to determine just what kind of listener was listening in to the show.

The Big Sister program arouses normal and adaptive anxiety in the women who listen. [It] directly and indirectly condemns neurotic and non-adaptive anxiety and thereby functions to curb such feelings in its audience. This program provides moral beliefs, values, and techniques for solving emotional and interpersonal problems for its audience and makes them feel they are learning while they listen . . . It directs the private reveries and fantasies of the listeners into socially approved channels of action. [It] increases the women's sense of security in a world they feel is often threatening, by reaffirming the basic security of the marriage ties (John's and Ruth's); by accentuating the basic security of the position of the husband (Dr. John Wayne is a successful physician); by "demonstrating" that those who behave properly and stay away from wrong-doing exercise moral control over those who do not; and, by showing that wrong behaviour is punished . . . The women aspire to, and measure themselves by identification with Ruth, the heroine; however, the identification is not with Ruth alone, but with the whole program and the other characters in the plot. This permits sublimated impulse satisfaction by the listeners, first, unconsciously identifying with the bad woman and, later, consciously punishing her through the action of the plot. Unregulated impulse life is condemned, since it is always connected with characters who are condemned and never related to those who are approved.

---Warner and Henry, cited by James Thurber, in "Soapland: The Listening Women," The New Yorker, 1947-48; republished in The Beast in Me and Other Animals. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948.)

[Newman and Funt] have made [Big Sister] one of the most popular of all serials. For more than two years, it has dealt with a moony triangle of Ruth Wayne, the big sister of the title, her estranged husband, Dr. John Wayne, and another doctor named Reed Bannister. The authors, I am told, plan to tinker with the popular old central situation, but they are aware that they must proceed with caution. The identifiers are strongly attached to the status quo of plot situation, and to what psychologists call the "symbols" in soap opera---serial authors call them "gimmicks"---and they do not want them tampered with. Thus, the soap opera males who go blind or lose the use of both legs or wander around in amnesia are, as the psychologists put it, symbols that the listening women demand. As long as the symbols are kept in the proper balance and the woman is in charge and the man is under her control, it does not seem to make a great deal of difference to the female listeners whether the story is good or not.


Presumably, we may leave it to those who listened to determine whether Dr. John Wayne merely got his, when he was killed in a plane crash late in the serial's run.

Several old-time radio mainstays appeared on Big Sister at various times during its run, including Teddy Bergman (a stage alias for Fred Allen Show mainstay Alan Reed, as Asa Griffin); future mr. ace and JANE castmates Evelyn Varden (as Mrs. Carvell) and Eric Dressler (as Frank Wayne); Boston Blackie star Richard Kollmar (as Michael West); future Richard Diamond, Private Detective co-star Ed Begley (as Waldo Briggs and Charles Daniels); Pepper Young's Family star Mason Adams (as Dr. Marlowe); and, future game and talk panelist Arlene Francis (as Lola Mitchell), among others.

1954: CRIME DOES NOT PAY ANY LONGER---Not for The Shadow, whose radio life began in 1932 but ends today, with Bret Morrison in the title role he's played for a decade, succeeding (in ascending order) Robert Hardy Andrews, Orson Welles, and Bill Johnstone.

The final cast includes Lesley Woods as the fifth Margot Lane (succeeding, in ascending order, Agnes Moorehead, Marjorie Anderson, Gertrude Warner, and Grace Matthews); Ted de Corsia as the sixth Commissioner Weston (succeeding, in ascending order, Dwight West, Arthur Vinton, Kenny Delmar, Santos Ortega, and Jimmy La Curto); and, Mandel Kramer as the third Shrevie (succeeding, in ascending order, Keenan Wynn [the son of comedy legend Ed Wynn] and Alan Reed).

Andrews, the original Lamont Cranston/Shadow, led one of the more interesting of double lives at the time he originated the role: he was a former journalist who became one of the most prolific radio soap writers in the business, especially for Frank and Anne Hummert---including for Ma Perkins and Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy (which he created), before making a distinguished career as a screenwriter and short story author.


1948: BERLIN, 1945---In a repeat of a December 1947 broadcast, five American soldiers still in Berlin following the war's end invite a mysterious stranger (Ernest Chappell) to join them for their Christmas dinner, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Additional cast: Inaudible. Writer: Wyllis Cooper.

1949: THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT---It's from sponsor Scott (Gale Gordon), and it's got Phil (Harris) and Alice (Faye) in a stir because they've mistaken it for something else with potentially fateful results, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Remley: Elliott Lewis. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Willie: Robert North. Julius: Walter Tetley. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

1951: SWEET SORROW (A.K.A. DRAMATIC CLUB TRYOUTS)---It's almost sour grapes before the Halls (Ronald and Benita Colman) can slog through the annual drama tryouts . . . and the annual pressures to play favourites and roles in the show, on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC; rebroadcast: Armed Forces Radio Service.)

Wellman: Herbert Butterfield. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Writer: Don Quinn.


1891---Tony Wons (host: The Tony Wons Scrapbook; The House By the Side of the Road; The Camel Quarter Hour), Menasha, Wisconsin.
1893---Vladimir Golschmann (conductor: The New York Philharmonic), Paris.
1902---Irene Handl (actress: Hello, Playmates), London.
1914---Richard Widmark (actor: Home of the Brave; Joyce Jordan, M.D.), Sunrise, Minnesota.
1921---Steve Allen (comedian/composer/actor: Smile Time; The Steve Allen Show), New York City.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Three Firsts on Christmas Day: The Way It Was, 25 December

Even Christmas Day proves to have had significance in the history of the medium, three events in particular standing forth.

1931: SO PLUMP YOU CAN TASTE THE JUICES---With Lawrence Tibbett as featured vocalist, the Metropolitan Opera is featured in an old-time radio broadcast for the first time, performing Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck (no relation to the British pop singer, who borrowed the composer's name as his own stage name beginning in 1966) on NBC.

1937: THE SYMPHONY IS ON THE AIR---The maestro Arturo Toscanini---for whom the legendary NBC Symphony was created, with Toscanini himself hiring most of the musicians---conducts the symphony on the air for the first time, with the premiere of Symphony of the Air on NBC.

1938: 'TWASN'T IT SUPPOSED TO BE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS?---Old-time radio's first known Christmas Day performance of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol is delivered on CBS by Orson Welles and Lionel Barrymore---who has been playing Ebenezer Scrooge in various radio programs since 1934, making the role something of an annual tradition.


1932: THE MAMMOTH DEPARTMENT STORE---The oldest-known surviving program to feature master satirist Fred Allen as its host, here he plays a man with a sometimes unenviable profession---a department store manager on and the day after Christmas, on tonight's edition of The Linit Bath Club Revue. (CBS.)

Cast: Portland Hoffa, Sheila Barrett, Roy Atwell, Charles Carlile. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Music: Lou Katzman Orchestra, Mary Leaf at the organ. Writer: Fred Allen.

1943: THE CHRISTMAS PACKAGE---A special broadcast, coordinated with the U.S. War Department---a charming 1943 holiday half-hour, hosted by film star Linda Darnell, featuring music by the Andrews Sisters, Ginny Simms, and Lena Horne; messages from the Army and Navy's chiefs of chaplains; a comedy monologue from Bob Hope ("our Santa Claus for tonight---the man who's been trying to get me on his lap all afternoon to whisper what I want for Christmas," cracked Darnell); and, a sweet but not sugary holiday sketch from Jim and Marian Jordan as Fibber McGee, Molly, and Teeny ("Whatcha doin' Mister?") with the Wistful Vista kids, on tonight's special broadcast, The Christmas Package coordinated with the U.S. War Department on NBC.

1944: THE VAGABOND KING---Dennis Morgan and Kathryn Grayson step into the Dennis King and Jeanette MacDonald roles remaking the 1930 Ernst Lubitsch film of the rogue poet sentenced to hang for verses against Louis XI but offered a reprieve if he can defeat the invaders of Burgundy---and win the heart of the king's angelic niece, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Additional cast: J. Carroll Naish. Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz, based on the operetta by Rudolf Firml.

1945: CHRISTMAS TREES---Somewhere in the middle of bantering about Raleigh's then-contest to win a new Chevrolet (you had to complete the sentence, "We should all buy Victory Bonds because . . .," in twenty-five words or less), Red (Skelton) and company manage to swap Christmas gifts, Anita Ellis manages to sing "Toyland," and Clem Kadiddlehopper ("I wish they had winter in the summer, then it wouldn't be so cold") lands a gig selling Christmas trees around the corner, on tonight's edition of The Raleigh Cigarette Program Starring Red Skelton. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Lurene Tuttle, Verna Felton, GeGe Pearson. Guest star: Arthur Q. Bryan. Writers: Edna Skelton, Jack Douglas, Ben Freedman, Johnny Murray.

1946: A CHRISTMAS STORY; OR: THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS---The cheerfully cantankerous comedian's opening monologue does a subtly racy job of setting it up:

Not so many Christmases ago, we broadcast a little Christmas story for children. And, ah, it was definitely for children, but we heard later that a number of grownups sneaked out of bed and listened.

Welllllll, you know how parents are, kids. Just when you think they're asleep, they come out of the bedroom with all kinds of excuses. They want a drink of water . . . or, uh, there's a tiger in the room . . . or, their blanket fell on the floor, or something. So this year, ah, we might as well let 'em stay up and listen.

But parents---no snickering. We're not gonna stand for a lot of grownups listening to the radio and shaking their heads doubtfully, as though we were making the whole thing up. Now, kids, if you notice your mommy or your daddy saying things like, um, "ohhhhh, nonsense! or, uh, "Well, that couldn't happen," just look 'em in the eye and say, "I find this story thoroughly credible!"

Of course, I don't have that kind of trouble with my parents. If they say "oh, nonsense!" to me, I just don't give 'em tickets to my show.

Then, the story: Little Joey sits examining the ruins of an electric train "that took a dozen graduate engineers to put together" . . . and which his father wrecked when the kid let the old man fool around with it until he came up with a theory about how to make it run different.

"What's a theory?" asks little Norman. "I dunno," answers Joey. "Something ya father has when tells ya to hand him a screwdriver."

All little Norman had to worry about was getting Santa into the house---because they had not a chimney but radiators. What the kids had to worry about was being careful what they wished for. Especially if they were audacious enough to ask Congress for it.

But for further details, you'll have to listen to tonight's edition of The Henry Morgan Show. (ABC.)

Cast: Arnold Stang, Pert Kelton, Fran Warren, Ben Brower, Art Carney, Jack Albertson, Joan Gibson. The children: Butch Cabell, David Anderson, Joan Laser. Music: Bernie Green Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Carroll Moore, Jr., Aaron Ruben, Joseph Stein.


1886---Kid Ory (as Edward Ory; trombonist/bandleader: This is Jazz; Radio Almanac; Here's to Veterans), LaPlace, Louisiana.
1889---Nat Shilkret (conductor: The Eveready Hour; Music That Satisfies; Palmolive Beauty Box Theater), Queens, New York.
1893---Robert L. Ripley (host: Colonel Beacon Light; Baker's Broadcast; Believe It . . . or Not), Santa Rosa, California.
1899---Humphrey Bogart (actor: Bold Venture; Stars in the Air; Streamlined Shakespeare; Lux Radio Theater; The Fred Allen Show), New York City.
1902---Barton MacLane (actor: Thirty Minutes in Hollywood), Columbia, South Carolina.
1904---Gladys Swarthout (singer: Palmolive Beauty Box Theater; The Prudential Family Hour; The Voice of Firestone), Deepwater, Missouri.
1907---Cab Calloway (The Hi-De-Ho King; bandleader: Quizzical), Rochester, New York.
1909---Mike Mazurki (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Tarnopol, Austria.
1912---Tony Martin (as Alvin Morris; singer/actor: The Burns & Allen Show; The Tony Martin Show), Oakland.
1913---Candy Candido (comedian: Sealtest Village Store; The Jimmy Durante Show), New Orleans.
1915---Richard Wilson (actor/writer/director: Mercury Theater On the Air), McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
1924---Rod Serling (writer/host: Zero Hour), Syracuse, New York.
1932---Mabel King (as Donnie Mabel Elizabeth Washington; actress/singer: Camel Rock and Roll Party), Charleston, South Carolina.


Monday, December 24, 2007

'Tis the Night Before Christmas: The Way It Was, 24 December

. . . and all through the house, there are those of us who still find some of the most pleasant and occasionally jarring holiday entertainment wafting up from the legacy of old-time radio. Herewith one way to make your hunt a little simpler, with wishes for an edifying season and year to come.


1950: And, first, your hostess opens with a variation upon her standard introduction.

TALLULAH BANKHEAD: To the men and women in service all over the world on this Christmas Eve, through the cooperation of the Associated Services of the Armed Forces, you are about to be entertained by some of the biggest names in show business. For the next hour and thirty minutes, this program will present in person such bright stars as . . .

Then, as is the custom established already by this last-gasp, big-bucks old-time radio variety offering, the stars introduce themselves. Jimmy Durante. Bert Lahr. Robert Merrill. Margaret O'Brien. Edith Piaf. Fran Warren. Ed Wynn. Meredith Willson. And, following that soaring theme music around and behind Ed Herlihy's introduction, back comes Madame Tallu.

BANKHEAD: A safe and Merry Christmas, darlings, to all our Armed Forces, wherever you may be. And to you here at home, I hope all your stockings are hung, and that you find in them all the things you wished for. I know what I'm going to find in mine---a run! I always do on this show!

But when I heard that one of our guests today would be Margaret O'Brien, I decided to make it my business to see that this child has a Merry Christmas away from her home. After all, it's only been a few years since I was a child, heh heh heh. (Laughter.) Those darling writers---they'll stop at nothing for a Christmas present. And that's exactly what they're getting.

But to make sure little Margaret has a wonderful Christmas, I invited three of the theater's greatest clowns---Jimmy Durante, Bert Lahr, and Ed Wynn.

JIMMY DURANTE, BERT LAHR, and ED WYNN (in unison): Hello, Tallulah! (Applause.)
BANKHEAD: Hello Ed, Jimmy, Bert. Hello Bert, Ed, Jimmy. Hello Jimmy, Bert, Ed. Well, now that I've given you all equal billing, we can get down to our problem. We've got to arrange a wonderful Christmas party for this little girl. Anybody have an idea what to give her?
LAHR: I've got an idea, Tallulah.
BANKHEAD: Uh, huh.
LAHR: Something that's very popular this time of the year.
BANKHEAD: Oh, really, darling? What is it, Bert?
LAHR: How about givin' her a Christmas present?
BANKHEAD (lowers voice smugly): Uh, now, isn't that brilliant?

From there, the foursome swap gags about Christmas bed jackets, horses, and John Dillinger, before Lahr reprises "If I Was The King of the Forest" from The Wizard of Oz (with a little help from O'Brien, of course); before Durante suggests a toy-spangled Christmas tree and finds a way to sing "Isn't It A Shame That Christmas Comes But Once A Year"; before Wynn and company try to prove Santa Claus; and, before some stunning music from Warren ("Look to the Rainbow"), Metropolitan Opera star Merrill ("O Holy Night") and the tragic French chanteuse Piaf. (A beautiful "Autumn Leaves.")

There is also a gentle message from Army Gen. Jonathan Wainwright at Camp Breckenridge (Kentucky). The message could be deployed today without losing a beat or a drop of relevance.

I'm happy to join with all your folks at home in bringing a Christmas greeting to you, my comrades of the armed forces, wherever you may be. We have shared the joy of other Christmas days together, and we look forward as a united people to that time when peace on earth and good will to men may again prevail. May God be with you.

And I didn't even stop to mention the soaring, caroling almost-finale. But I'm leaving you to hear it for yourself, along with the rest of tonight's Christmas Eve edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Music: Meredith Willson with the Big Show Orchestra and Chorus. Writers: Goodman Ace, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1940: GILDY'S RADIO PHONOGRAPH---Gildersleeve's (Harold Peary) new radio-phonograph combine is delivered---to the McGees (Jim and Marian Jordan), by mistake, but they get a bigger shock when they plug it in and play it, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra. Writer: Don Quinn.

1942: THE PLOT TO OVERTHROW CHRISTMAS---Norman Corwin's vintage verse satire gets a tour de force treatment from Will Geer (as the Devil) and House Jameson (Sam Aldrich, in The Aldrich Family) as Santa Claus, when some of history's most notorious convene a meeting Down Under (it isn't Australia tonight, kiddies) to plan Christmas's downfall---if only they can quell this little family squabble, first, between Haman and Ivan the Terrible---after Lucrezia Borgia dreams up the winning idea, on tonight's edition of Norman Corwin's Words Without Music. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Norman Corwin.

1944: TRIMMING A TREE---Jack (Benny) and Mary (Livingstone) finish trimming Jack's tree . . . and the first results come as quite a shock to the pregnant pausing, electricity-challenged miser, on tonight's edition of The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Eddie Anderson, Phil Harris, Larry Stevens, Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Larry Stevens. Announcer: Don Wilson. Writers: George Balzar, Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin.

1944: BACHELOR MOTHER---Brenda Marshall and Louis Hayward step into the Ginger Rogers and David Niven roles from the 1939 film about a department store clerk (Marshall) selling ducks until she's canned the day before Christmas for obscure reasons---and getting a shock on her doorstep that leads to a few odd events and her re-hiring, on tonight's edition of The Old Gold Comedy Theater. (NBC.)

1948, POSSIBLY: CHRISTMAS EVE---The likely inspiration---derived likewise from "The Gift of the Magi"---for the classic Honeymooners [the Original 39] episode about Ralphie Boy having to hock his brand-new bowling ball to buy Alice the Christmas present for which he forgot (as usual) to sock a few simoleons away, and to retrieve his jaw from the floor when he saw what she got him . . .

Only here, it's weary husband John (Don Ameche) snoring on the ladder while trimming the tree, shrewish wife Blanche (Frances Langford) snorting him awake and into one of their usual arguments, from John's daily bag lunch to his reputedly forgotten Christmas card (he didn't forget, by the way---but you'll have to listen to learn where it turned up), the bill money spent on presents . . . and, bourbon-loving John and highfalutin' Blanche ending by opening their presents just past midnight---and discovering just what each sold (hint: what the other could have used with their gifts), on tonight's edition of The Bickersons. (NBC.)

Writer: Philip Rapp.

1949: A CHRISTMAS CAROL---The jaunty detective (Dick Powell) casts his own usual suspects---most of whom are the police with whom he normally works and/or fences---into an analogic interpretation of the Dickens classic, on tonight's edition of Richard Diamond, Private Detective. (NBC.)

Levinson: Ed Begley. Helen: Virginia Gregg. Otis: Wilms Herbert. Announcer: Eddie King.

1959: ONE FELLA'S FAMILY---MERRY CHRISTMAS, ONE AND ALL---From Book Eye Ex, Chapter Eye Eye, Pages Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, and the bottom of Page Seventeen, on tonight's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (No coaching from the audience, please . . . )

Writers: Bob Elliot, Ray Goulding.


1886---Michael Curtiz (director: Screen Guild Theater; Screen Director's Playhouse), Budapest.
1895---Ruth Chatterton (actress: Lux Radio Theater), New York City.
1906---Franz Waxman (conductor/composer: Good News of 1939), Konigshutte, Germany.
1910---Mitchell Ayres (bandleader: The Dunninger Show; The Chesterfield Supper Club), Milwaukee; Fritz Lieber (writer: X Minus One; Future Tense; Audition Theater), Chicago.
1915---Helen Brown (actress: Big Town), Washington.
1920---John Barron (actor: Dad's Army; Brothers-in-Law), London.
1922---Ava Gardner (actress: So Proudly We Hail; The Prudential Family of Stars; Lux Radio Theater), Grabtown, North Carolina.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Farewell, Mrs. Wiggs: The Way It Was, 23 December

1938: OUT OF THE CABBAGE PATCH---Based on the 1901 novel by Alice Caldwell Hegan, and adapted for old-time radio after a 1934 film (with Pauline Lord in the title role and W.C. Fields as Ellsworth Stubbins), the soap Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch airs for the final time on NBC.

Produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch premiered on CBS in 1936 and moved to NBC in September of that year. It followed the story of the title widow whose family and friends led her through tribulations while she strained to keep a cheerful attitude through it all---even as her character and life setting graduated perhaps too swiftly from simple slices of life and angst to none-too-simple slabs of near-relentless and often straining action.

Th[e] isolation of soap opera characters [from animation of community life] was brought about by the interminability of daytime serials, some of which began as authentic stories of small town life. The inventiveness of writers flagged under the strain of devising long plot sequences, one after another, year after year, involving a given family with the neighbours and other townsfolk. Furthermore, the producers and sponsors of soap opera and the alert advertising agencies set up a clamour for bigger and wider action and excitement. The original soap opera characters are now often nothing more than shadowy and unnecessary ficelles, awkwardly held onto as confidants or advisers of the principal figures in the melodramas that come and go in chaotic regularity. Even Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch followed the formula and degenerated into radio melodrama after six months. Its heroine spent her time dodging the bullets of gangsters and the tricks and traps of other scoundrels from the city.

---James Thurber, in "Soapland: Ivorytown, Rinsoville, Anacinburg, and Crisco Corners," The New Yorker, 1947-1948; republished in The Beast in Me and Other Animals. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948.)

The show starred future Lorenzo Jones co-star Betty Garde and, later, Eva Gordon in the title role. The cast included Robert Strauss as Pa Wiggs; Andy Donnelly as Billy; Joe Latham as Stubbins; Frank Provo and then Bill Johnstone as Mr. Bob; Agnes Young and then Alice Frost as Miss Hazy; and, Marjorie Anderson as Lucy Redding. George Ambro served as the show's announcer.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch will also be remembered for being one of radio's few early soap operas that wasn't sponsored by a soap maker or brand---the sponsors included Jad Effervescent Salt, Hill's Nose Drops, and Olde English Wax.


1922: NOW, THE NEWS---The British Broadcasting Company launches its first regularly-scheduled daily newscasts.


1943: CHRISTMAS STORY---In one of the show's absolute classics, Grandpap (Norris Goff) asks Lum (Chester Lauck) and Abner (also Goff) to drag through the Pine Ridge snow with him, following the east star, bringing supplies for a couple expecting a child, and helping them find another place to stay after Doc (also Lauck) reveals they're staying in an abandoned barn, with the trio waiting outside to toast the coming of 1939 while Doc brings and arranges supplies inside for the couple---a carpenter and his pregnant wife, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (CBS.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

1943: BACK FOR CHRISTMAS---The Christmas spirit of a henpecked botanist (Peter Lorre) with a particular passion for experiments with home-grown orchids is compromised by his impatient wife, who has little use for his passion and less patience to get aboard their planned holiday cruise, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: John Collier.

1945: CHRISTMAS AT HOME---Gildy (Harold Peary) has a problem the day before Christmas---hiding the presents in any spot in the house Leroy (Walter Tetley) hasn't discovered first, assuming such a spot can be found, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Hooker: Earle Ross. Floyd: Arthur Q. Bryan. Peavy: Richard LeGrand. Writers: Sam Moore, John Whedon.

1945: THE ENGLISH BUTLER---Reciprocating for a dinner invitation he received a fortnight earlier, Jack (Benny) invites Ronald Colman and his wife, Benita Hume Colman (as themselves) for dinner---assuming Colman gets over his trepidation about the evening and Jack can get the butler he hired for the night to take it all seriously, on tonight's edition of The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Cast: Mary Livingstone, Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Mel Blanc, Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

1948: CHRISTMAS PROGRAM---It's beginning to look a lot like a pain in the rump roast to find a few too many classic radio holiday episodes called, "Christmas Program" or "Christmas Show," but here 'tis the week before Christmas, and all through the house, Sam (House Jameson) thinks Henry (Ezra Stone) is being solicitous enough of late to suggest an ulterior yuletide motive, while Alice (Katherine Raht) thinks Sam's being too suspicious for his own good, and Hen-reeeeeeeee! really is maneuvering for a certain Christmas present---unaware that his parents think he's angling for something else, on tonight's edition of The Aldrich Family. (NBC.)

Writer: Clifford Goldsmith.


1887---John Cromwell (actor: Lux Radio Theater), unknown.
1893---Anne O'Neal (actress: Grapevine Rancho), St. Louis.
1903---Helen Troy (actress: Telephone Operator; It Happened in Hollywood), San Francisco.
1907---Don McNeil (host: The Breakfast Club), Galena, Illinois.
1911---James Gregory (actor: 21st Precinct), The Bronx.
1913---Anton M. Leader (director: Murder at Midnight; Suspense; Words at War), Boston.
1922---Ruth Roman (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Hollywood Sound Stage), Boston.
1923---Ray Kemper (sound: Gunsmoke; Fort Laramie; Voyage of the Scarlet Queen), Lankersham, California.
1943---Harry Shearer (actor, with the Beavers: The Jack Benny Program), Los Angeles.

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.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Song of Songs: The Way It Was, 20 December

1937: LUX'S CHRISTMAS GIFT---It isn't exactly a Christmas story--- but it is what host Cecil B. DeMille calls the Christmas gift to the nation from one of its favourite and best-respected old-time radio dramatic anthologies.

Marlene Dietrich---on the threshold of her becoming an American citizen---reprises her 1933 film role as the orphan who stays with her Parisian aunt and falls for a sculptor who wants her to marry a wealthy client, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Richard: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (in the Brian Aherne film role). Additional cast: Lionel Atwill (reprising his film role as Baron von Merzbach), Pedro DeCordoba; special guest: Walt Disney. Adapted from the screenplay by Edward Sheldon, Leo Birinsky, and Samuel Hoffenstein.


2003: AU REVOIR TO NORA'S MAN---Les Tremayne, remembered best as Nick Charles in old-time radio's Adventures of the Thin Man and as the first leading man for The Romance of Helen Trent, dies of heart failure at 90.

The Briton who moved to America as a boy, and learned to hide his native English accent under assault from Chicago bullies, was also a prominent actor in such radio vintages as One Man's Family, The Falcon, Wendy Warren and the News, and Grand Hotel, after receiving his first break stepping in for Don Ameche to host The First Nighter in 1936.

Though known primarily for radio drama, Tremayne also teamed with a barely-known comic for a radio series in the 1940s. The barely-known comic's name was Jackie Gleason.

Renowned for his ability to perform with little or no rehearsal, Tremayne was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.


1942: CHRISTMAS 1942---Rushed to get the annual state of the water department report done by Christmas Eve, an exhausted Gildy (Harold Peary) collapses asleep at his desk and sleeps there through the night . . . haunted into the holiday anti-spirit by rapid-fire dreams of gift demands, and a romantic misunderstanding, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Floyd: Arthur Q. Bryan. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Leila: Shirley Mitchell. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Announcer: John Wald. Writers: John Whedon and Sam Moore.

1948: MIRACLE ON 34th STREET---Edmund Gwenn reprises his Oscar-winning film role as what TV Guide would describe, in due and inimitable course: the department store Santa who goes on trial to prove he's the real Kris Kringle, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Doris Walker: Maureen O'Hara (reprising her film role). Fred Gailey: John Payne (also reprising his film role). Host: William Keighley. Adapted from the screenplay by Valentine Davies and George Seaton.

1952: CHRISTMAS STORY---Stranded after he has to put his injured horse out of his misery as Christmas Eve arrives, Matt (William Conrad) is offered a ride the rest of the way home by a drifting former sailor (possible John Dehner)---who unburdens a terrible secret and makes a major decision, after Matt tells him of last year's Christmas in Dodge, on tonight's edition of Gunsmoke. (CBS.)

Chester: Parley Baer Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Doc: Howard McNear. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Antony Ellis.


1889---Ernest la Prade (conductor: Collier's Hour; Orchestra of the Nation), Memphis.
1898---Irene Dunne (actress: Bright Star; Family Theater; Hallmark Hall of Fame), Louisville.
1900---Ted Fio Rito (bandleader: Presenting Al Jolson; The Wonder Show with Jack Haley), Newark.
1905---Albert Dekker (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Brooklyn.
1906---Marion Talley (singer: Ry-Krisp Presents Marion Talley), Nevada, Missouri.
1907---Al Rinker (singer, with the Rhythm Boys: Paul Whiteman Presents), Tekoa, Washington.
1918---Audrey Totter (actress: Meet Millie; Bright Horizon), Joliet, Illinois.
1923---Charita Bauer (actress: The Aldrich Family; The Guiding Light), Newark.
1931---Mala Powers (actress: Stars Over Hollywood), San Francisco.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ike From Space: The Way It Was, 19 December

1958: BOUNCING OFF A SATELLITE---U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower broadcasts the first known radio message bounced off a communications satellite based in space. The President spoke from Goldstone, California when the broadcast was transmitted from the radio mirror balloon.

Eisenhower expressed among other things the hope that space-based communications could be used on behalf of peace for all mankind.


1944: FIBBER SNOOPS FOR PRESENTS IN THE CLOSET---Like that's a big surprise . . . as Fibber (Jim Jordan) is reminded rather rudely when he sees a don't-even-think-about-it note from Molly (Marian Jordan) before the usual clutter comes clattering down on him, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Alice Darling: Shirley Mitchell. Doc Gamble: Arthur Q. Bryan. Beulah: Marlin Hurt. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men, and special treat Marian Jordan (as Teeny) singing the Ken Darby (of the King's Men) arrangement of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Writer: Don Quinn.

1948: THE SAD NIGHT---A child's copy book dated from 1930 finds its way to Holliday (Alan Ladd), who learns the hard way that it's going to help him find his way to a murder plot, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Suzy: Sylvia Picker. Kling: Edmund McDonald. Additional cast: Lurene Tuttle, Alan Reed, Luis van Rooten, John Beal. Writer: Russell Hughes.

1948: JACK BENNY AS SANTA---In one of the all-time old-time radio Christmas classics, Phil's (Harris) former boss does the surprising job on a Christmas Eve in which the Harris children (Jeanine Roos, Anne Whitfield) want to stay up and see Santa---and not Daddy (who sings a charming re-arrangement of "Jingle Bells")---in costume, this time, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Willie: Robert North. Remley: Elliott Lewis. Music: Walter Sharp with the Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


1888---Fritz Reiner (conductor: Curtis Institute Musicale; Ford Sunday Evening Hour), Budapest.
1894---Ford C. Frick (sportswriter/baseball commissioner: Baseball: An Action History), Wawaka, Indiana.
1902---Sir Ralph Richardson (actor: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), Cheltenham, UK.
1907---Ray Noble (bandleader: The Burns & Allen Show; The Chase & Sanborn Hour), Brighton, UK.
1911---Clark Dennis (singer: The Breakfast Club; Fibber McGee & Molly; Chesterfield Presents), Roscommon, Michigan.
1915---Edith Piaf (as Édith Giovanna Gassion; singer: The Big Show), Paris.
1923---Gordon Jackson (actor, BBC), Glasgow.
1933---Cicely Tyson (actress: Sears Radio Theater), New York City.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FM's Father is Born: The Way It Was, 18 December

1890: WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, EDWARD?---Mother and Father Armstrong, of course, don't even think to ask when their new son is born today. But they and a nation will get the answer when the lad E(dwin). Howard reaches his 43rd year . . . and patents frequency modulation radio---FM.

Now, you don't think a fellow could develop something that significant without even a little, ahem, interference, do you? Didn't think so. And you're right.

He had early set out to eliminate the last big problems of radio---static. Radio then carried the sound patterns by varying, or modulating, the amplitude (power) of its carrier wave at a fixed frequency (wavelength)---a system easily and noisily broken into by such amplitude phenomena as electrical storms. By the late 1920's Armstrong had decided that the only solution was to design an entirely new system, in which the carrier-wave frequency would be modulated, while its amplitude was held constant. Undeterred by current opinion---which held that this method was useless for communications---Armstrong in 1933 brought forth a wide-band frequency modulation (FM) system that in field tests gave clear reception through the most violent storms and, as a dividend, offered the highest fidelity sound yet heard in radio.

But in the depressed 1930's the major radio industry was in no mood to take on a new system requiring basic changes in both transmitters and receivers. Armstrong found himself blocked on almost every side. It took him until 1940 to get a permit for the first FM station, erected at his own expense, on the Hudson River Palisades at Alpine, N.J. It would be another two years before the Federal Communications Commission granted him a few frequency allocations.

When, after a hiatus caused by World War II, FM broadcasting began to expand, Armstrong again found himself impeded by the FCC, which ordered FM into a new frequency band at limited power, and challenged by a coterie of corporations on the basic rights to his invention. Facing another long legal battle, ill and nearly drained of his resources, Armstrong committed suicide on the night of Jan. 31, 1954, by jumping from his apartment window high in New York's River House. Ultimately his widow, pressing twenty-one infringement suits against as many companies, won some $10 million in damages. By the late 1960's, FM was clearly established as the superior system. Nearly 2,000 FM stations spread across the country, a majority of all radio sets sold are FM, all microwave relay links are FM, and FM is the accepted system in all space communications.

---Lawrence P. Lessing, in Dictionary of American Biography.


1945: A CHRISTMAS SHOW FROM SAN FRANCISCO---Actor and World War II flying ace Wayne Morris joins the Christmas fun with Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford, and Trudy Erwin, though Bob (Hope) may not have as much fun buying a new a house as he thinks, on tonight's edition of The Bob Hope Show. (NBC.)

Announcer: Wendell Niles. Music: Skinnay Ennis and His Orchestra, Frances Langford. Writers: Possibly Jack Douglas, Hal Block, Larry Marks.

1949: GETTING A CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE MOUNTAINS---Their mayor hasn't yet put up the annual town Christmas tree, so Alice (Faye) dragoons eager Willie (Robert North) and reluctant Phil (Harris) and Remley (Elliott Lewis) into getting it from the mountains themselves, which may have been her first mistake, of course, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Julius: Walter Tetley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

1953: A TAX REFUND---The Squire of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) expects his angry calls to City Hall to pay off at last with a refund of his property tax overpayment, until the check in the mail gets blown out of his hand in a nasty wind, on today's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.


1864---S. Parkes Cadman (preacher: National Radio Pulpit), Wellington, Shropshire, UK.
1885---J. Anthony Smythe (actor: Carefree Carnival; One Man's Family), San Francisco.
1886---Ty Cobb (baseball Hall of Fame outfielder: Baseball: An Action History), Narrows, Georgia.
1888---Dame Gladys Cooper (actress: The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour), Lewisham, UK.
1897---Fletcher Henderson (pianist/arranger/bandleader: Jubilee; Magic Carpet), Cuthbert, Georgia.
1908---Dame Celia Johnson (actress: Desert Island Disks), Ellerker Gate, Richmond, UK.
1910---Abe Burrows (as Abram Solman Borowitz; writer: This Is New York; Duffy's Tavern; The Danny Kaye Show; writer/host: The Abe Burrows Show), Brooklyn.
1913---Lynn Bari (as Margaret Schuyler Fisher; actress: Dan Carson; The Abbott & Costello Show; Suspense; Lux Radio Theater), Roanoke, Virginia.
1915---Bill Zuckert (actor: Crime and Peter Chambers), New York City.
1916---Betty Grable (Elizabeth Ruth Grable; actress: Hollywood Showcase; Screen Guild Theater; So You Want to Lead a Band), St. Louis.
1917---Ossie Davis (as Raiford Chatman Davis; actor: Cavalcade of America; The Big Show), Cogdell, Georgia.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Hot Property: The Way It Was, 17 December

1926---KYA, destined to have the most owners in California radio history before becoming KOIT in 1983, premieres in San Francisco.

In due course, it will become the Bay Area's number one rock and roll station (from which legendary Top 40 programming pioneer Bill Drake---credited with returning radio to programmers from sales, among other creations---will spring, among others) before Bonneville Broadcasting, an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, buys the station in 1983. By December 2007, the station (as KOIT) will have been sold to Immaculate Heart Radio and become, reportedly, an all-religious station.


1940: A BIJOU LIFETIME PASS---Vic (Art Van Harvey) and Sade (Bernadine Flynn) are puzzled by a plan to buy a new baboon for the park zoo, and Rush (Bill Idelson) wants to buy a lifetime pass to the Bijou from Leland Richards---assuming his parents will let him find his bank book, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1946: POLICE IMPERSONATOR---Blackie (Dick Kollmar) rebuffs an acquaintance who needs $10,000---unaware the acquaintance's accomplice can mimic his voice and decoy Faraday (Maurice Tarplin) and his men into killing a rival, on tonight's edition of Boston Blackie. (ABC.)

Mary: Jan Minor. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Kenny Lyons, Ralph Rosenberg.

1948: A CAR, NOT A WIFE---Their weekly night at the movies has Riley (William Bendix) fantasising himself James Mason and Peg (Paula Winslowe) fantasising about a family car at long enough last, on tonight's edition of The Life of Riley (NBC.)

Babs: Sharon Douglas. Junior: Scotty Beckett. Digger: John Brown. Announcer: Ken Niles. Writers: Ruben Schipp, Alan Lipscott.

1950: SATCHMO AND FRIENDS---Louis Armstrong's charming "Ain't Misbehavin'" and Martin & Lewis's usual, semi-controlled mayhem highlight an evening of music (also from Frankie Laine and Dorothy McGuire), comedy (also from Bob Hope and an uncredited Phil Harris), and drama (from Deborah Kerr), on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Host: Tallulah Bankhead. Additional cast: Jimmy Wallington, Meredith Willson. Announcer: Jimmy Wallington. Music: Meredith Willson, the Big Show Orchestra and Chorus. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1895---Rudolph Anders (actor: Space Patrol), Germany.
1896---Arthur Fiedler (conductor: The Boston Pops), South Boston.
1900---Katina Paxinou (actress: Suspense; Hallmark Playhouse), Piraeus, Greece.
1902---House Jameson (actor: The Aldrich Family; Renfrew of the Mounted; The Plot to Overthrow Christmas), Austin, Texas.
1903---Erskine Caldwell (author/playwright: Information, Please; Short Story), Morland, Georgia.
1913---Herbert Nelson (actor: Dan Harding's Wife; The Romance of Helen Trent), Stillwater, Minnesota.
1919---Shrimp Wragge (as Edward Wragge; actor: Gold Spot Pal), New York City.
1927---Richard Long (actor: Lux Radio Theater; So Proudly We Hail), Chicago.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Navy Yard Singer: The Way It Was, 16 December

1907: DID SHE REALLY WANT TO HURT HIM?---Eugene H. Farrar, about whom little much else if anything seems to be known, may be the first singer known to perform over radio, when a performance of "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" (assuredly not to be confused with the eventual Culture Club hit of the same name) by Farrar is carried live from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


1941: PAROLE OFFICER---He's in the Goldberg living room talking to Mr. Way and Oriane, just days after Mr. Way's appearance before the parole board, and all the while Molly (Gertrude Berg) is trying to keep Oriane from marrying Way until she can convince his former wife to help repay Way's debts, a plan Jake (James R. Waters) doesn't exactly like, on today's edition of The Goldbergs. (CBS.)

Rosalie: Roslyn Silber. Sammy: Alfred Ryder. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer: Gertrude Berg.

1945: SEEKING A RADIO JOB---That would be Fred (Allen) on behalf of opera star Lauritz Melchior, once the Alley demimonde finishes discussing what raised the family income, if anything did, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC; rebroadcast---with choppy musical breakins: Armed Forces Radio Network.)

Portland: Portland Hoffa. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus: Parker Fenelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Falstaff: Alan Reed. Announcer: Kenny Delmar. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Bob Weiskopf.

1949: THE QUEST PESTS---Apparently, not even old-time radio's popular Quiz Kids are immune to the cheerful barbequer of sacred cows (well, calves), on tonight's edition of The Henry Morgan Show. (NBC.)

Cast: Arnold Stang, Fran Warren, Pert Kelton. Announcer: Ben Grauer. Music: Milton Tatum Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Joe Stein, Carroll Moore, Jr.


1890---Jane Morgan (actress: Aunt Mary; Our Miss Brooks; The Harold Peary Show), North Platte, Nebraska.
1892---Cameron Prud'homme (actor: Little Herman; David Harum), Auburn, California.
1898---Lud Gluskin (conductor: Hollywood Showcase; Amos 'n' Andy; The Adventures of Sam Spade), New York City.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We Hold These Truths: The Way It Was, 15 December

1941: WHY WE FOUGHT (AND FIGHT)---The story is that the author was completing the script when the news hit about Pearl Harbour over a week earlier. The legend is that there couldn't possibly have come a better time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, the impetus behind Norman Corwin's composition and presentation today of We Hold These Truths (The combined American networks: CBS, Mutual, NBC Red, NBC Blue.)

Aired originally on the combined American radio networks, the striking array of the nation's entertainment talent presenting the Corwin jewel (whose title was taken not from the Bill of Rights but from the Declaration of Independence) only begins with James Stewart, Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Bob Burns, Dane Clark, Walter Huston, Marjorie Main, Edward G. Robinson, Rudy Vallee, and Orson Welles. Not to mention President Roosevelt himself, addressing the nation following the original presentation; and, Leopold Stokowski leading the New York Philharmonic through "The Star Spangled Banner."

And there may never again be a more pungent, poignant, and powerful exposition of the promise within the Bill of Rights---a promise too often broken but never forgotten.


1947: DANCING FOOLS---Jane (Cathy Lewis) is almost desperate to see Irma (Marie Wilson) teach shiftless and clumsy Al (John Brown) to dance properly for a double dancing date with Jane and Richard (Leif Erickson)----even if it means helplessly loyal Irma going dancing with someone else to prove the point, on tonight's edition of My Friend Irma. (CBS.)

Mrs. O'Reilly: Gloria Gordon. Professor Kropotkin: Hans Conreid. Writers: Parke Levy, Stanley Adams.

1947: LITTLE FELLOW---A midget (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) who wishes he weren't so small discovers it may be wiser to get what you didn't wish for, originally, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual).

Jennifer: Betty Garde. Justice of the Peace: J. Pat O'Malley. Writer: Wyllis Cooper.

1959: ONE FELLA'S FAMILY---MISSING CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS---From Book Ex Vee Eye Eye, Chapter Eye Eye, Pages 11, 12, and the Bottom of Page 14, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (We'll give you a hint . . . )

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1873---Harry Humphrey (actor: Death Valley Days; Ma and Pa), San Francisco.
1888---Maxwell Anderson (writer: Free Company; Keep 'em Rolling; The O'Neill Cycle), Atlantic, Pennsylvania.
1896---Betty Smith (author: Hallmark Playhouse), New York City.
1907---Bob Hawk (host: Take It or Leave It; Thanks to the Yanks; The Bob Hawk Show), Creston, Iowa.
1915---Margaret Hayes (actress: Silver Theater), Baltimore.
1918---Jeff Chandler (as Ira Grossel; actor: Michael Shayne, Detective; Duffy's Tavern; Escape; Our Miss Brooks), Brooklyn.
1926---Rose Maddox (singer: Country Hoedown; The Faron Yougn Show), Boaz, Alabama.