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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"The Dark and Tragic Ground of the Wild Frontier": The Way It Was, 22 January

1956: PLAYING INDIAN---A settler and his family are unsettled and wiped out by tribesmen, on tonight's premiere edition of Fort Laramie (CBS), starring film and old-time radio veteran (and future Perry Mason television star) Raymond Burr as cavalry captain Lee Quinn.

Created by Norman MacDonnell, Fort Laramie will attempt to see and raise his earlier Gunsmoke's realism through his insistence, according to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group, that "historical accuracy was essential to the integrity of the series. Correct geographic names, authentic Indian practices, military terminology, and utilizing actual names of the original buildings of the real fort, was insisted upon. So when the radio characters referred to the sutler's store (which is what the trading post was called prior to 1870), the surgeon's quarters, Old Bedlam (the officers' quarters) or the old bakery, they were naming actual structures in the original fort."

MacDonnell casts Vic Perrin as Sgt. Goerss and Jack Moyles as the fort's commanding officer, Maj. Daggett. Supporting players will come largely from the same pool of performers and writers (including John Meston, who writes tonight's premiere) MacDonnel has used on Gunsmoke, but perhaps familiarity will breed indifference---its quality notwithstanding, Fort Laramie will last on the air through 28 October 1956.

Note: Television's Laramie, which will premiere on NBC in 1958, run through 1963, hook around two brothers and a drifter establishing a successful stage line, and earn a reputation as one of the better executed Westerns on the tube, will have no connection to Fort Laramie.


1925: SURREY WITH THE INFRINGEMENT ON TOP---Such was the message for the most part when a number of American radio writers and composers---many being members of the Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers---testify to Congress, a committee of which is probing the radio industry’s alleged infringement of writing and music copyrights.

Later in the year, in the third of three National Radio Conferences conducted between 1923 and 1925, a Copyright Committee concludes copyright owners are "entitled to reasonable compensation for the use of their copyrights, and the representatives of the broadcasting interests indicated a complete willingness to pay a reasonable charge for copyrighted [materials] used by them," but that broadcasters can’t use such materials, music especially, "except on prohibitive and unstable terms."

The committee will recommend Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who chairs the conference, propose federal legislation aimed at loosening such terms---without suggesting just how Hoover should write the proposal or what to leave in or out. Hoover himself will have opened the conference by stating, among other things, that the Commerce Department isn’t concerned directly with such issues as copyright, deeming them matters of "copyright, not radio."

1954: BREAKFAST IS SEVERED---Hoping it will prove as successful on the picture box as it has been on radio, ABC simulcasts the day’s edition of Don McNeil’s popular The Breakfast Club on television. Hope springs infernal, alas: the show does not catch quite on television the way it would continue on radio for another fourteen years.


1933: THE COURT OF JUDGE ALLEN---In perhaps his second-oldest surviving broadcast as a series star, Fred Allen holds court as a slightly off-center judge meting out inside-out justice, on tonight's edition of The Linit Bath Club Revue. (CBS.)

Cast: Portland Hoffa, Jack Smart, Helen Morgan, Roy Atwell, Mary Lou Dix. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Music: Ann Leaf, Charles Carlile. Writer: Fred Allen.

1940: BACHELOR MOTHER---‘Twas almost a month after Christmas, when Ginger Rogers (repeating her film role) and Frederic March (in David Niven’s film role) performed the first radio version of Bachelor Mother, about the fired store clerk mistaken to be the mother of a foundling, a mistake that alters her life come holiday time, on tonight’s edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Norman Krasna, based on a story by Felix Jackson.

1943: WITTY SUSPENSE?---No less than Alfred Hitchcock is the guest panelist on tonight's edition of Information, Please. (NBC.)

Panel: Franklin P. Adams, John F. Kieran, Oscar Levant. Host: Clifton Fadiman. Announcer: Ed Herlihy.

1954: IT'S FIBBER'S BIRTHDAY---And, so far, the only greeting the Squire of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) has received is a gift and kiss from Molly (Marian Jordan), all the while the couple continues wrestling over the Citizen X contest and an odd proposition tied to it, on today's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Doris: Mary Jane Croft. Mug: Lou Krugman. Announcer: John Wald. Writer: Phil Leslie.


1878---Constance Collier (actress: Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy), Windsor, Berkshire, UK.
1893---Conrad Veidt (actor: Free World Theater), Potsdam.
1894---Rosa Ponselle (soprano: The Atwater-Kent Hour; Metropolitan Opera), Meriden, Connecticut.
1895---Ethel Everett Remey (actress: Young Widder Brown; By Kathleen Norris), unknown.
1899---Anne Elstner (actress: Stella Dallas; Wilderness Road), Lake Charles, Louisiana.
1909---Ann Sothern (as Harriet Lake; actress: Maisie), Valley City, North Dakota.
1920---William Warfield (bass-baritone: The Charlie McCarthy Show; Beyond Victory; Music for America), West Helena, Arkansas.
1924---J.J. Johnson (trombonist: The Arthur Godfrey Show; One Night Stand), Indianapolis.
1932---Piper Laurie (as Rosetta Jacobs; actress: Lux Radio Theater; NBC Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater), Detroit.


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