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.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"More at Home Before the Mike Than Any Newspaperman": The Way It Was, 18 January

1929---"Deprecating yet loving gestures" is how an unnamed Chicago American critic will describe the takes when New York Daily Mirror columnist Walter Winchell makes his first known national radio broadcast---a special, 42-station appearance on NBC, conducting a kind of virtual tour of Broadway.

The broadcast leads to scattered guest appearances (on Rudy Vallee’s popular program, among others) and a brief gig as the announcer for Alexander Woollcott’s program. Those, in turn, lead to Winchell’s own first regular program, Before Dinner---Walter Winchell (CBS), sponsored by Saks & Company, a year and a half after that NBC appearance.

As early as January 1928, when Walter was still at the (New York) Graphic, Bernarr McFadden had asked public relations adviser Edward Bernays to investigate the possibilities of getting the columnist on the air, “as Mr. Winchell is very popular, and could talk on Broadway and New York plays, about which he is a unique authority.” Nothing came of this particular inquiry, but Walter made an appearance in the fall on a special broadcast boosting humourist Will Rogers’s mock presidential candidacy---Walter called for a more entertaining House of Representatives with some girls and a stage erected in the Capitol building---and was singled out by one radio critic for seeming "more at home before the mike than any newspaperman we have ever heard."

---Neal Gabler, in Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.)


1943: ULYSSES S. QUINCY, THE ALIBI KING---Now that Abner (Norris Goff) has found his daughter a job, the gents have to overtake Ulysses Quincy’s genius for alibis and convene a Golden Air Discussion Club meeting at Quincy’s home, since it’s his turn to host, on tonight’s episode of Lum & Abner. (Mutual.)

Lum: Chester Lauck. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

1943: MY GAL, SAL---Baking on the Wabash is Theodore Dreiser’s brother, a carnival entertainer who changed one digit in the family name, became Paul Dresser, and becomes a popular songwriter (once stage star Sally Elliot made the songs, including “On the Banks of the Wabash,” popular during the Gay Nineties), as Dick Powell (as Dresser) and Mary Martin (as Elliot) adapt the 1942 film hit on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

1944: WHAT A REVOLTIN’ DEVELOPMENT THIS IS!---William Bendix (by now the star of radio’s The Life of Riley) is the student, Gracie (Allen) is his teacher, and the subject is culture. There are those who think this is something along the line of Bonnie and Clyde teaching finance, on tonight's edition of The Burns & Allen Show. (CBS.)

Cast: Elvia Allman, Mel Blanc, Jimmy Cash, Hans Conreid, Lawrence Nash. Announcer: Bill Goodwin. Music: Felix Mills Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, Paul Henning.

1952: THE SIMPSON CASE---Or, "I gotta hang around and pray for a client"---and barely is the phrase out of our hero’s (Dick Powell) mouth to his girl’s (Virginia Gregg) ear when his prayer is answered: a lady (Jean Bates) wants protection for her reluctant husband (Herbert Butterfield), a retiree and recovering stroke victim, who has found oil on his property and since dodged a bullet or three, on tonight's edition of Richard Diamond, Private Detective. (ABC.)

Levinson: Alan Reed. Otis: Wilms Herbert. Announcer. Bill Forman. Writer: Blake Edwards. (You guessed it---that Blake Edwards.)


1899---Lucille Wall (actress: Portia Faces Life; Lorenzo Jones), Chicago.
1902---Helen Lynd (actress: Duffy's Tavern), New Jersey.
1904---Cary Grant (as Archibald Alec Leach; actor: Mr. and Mrs. Blandings; Lux Radio Theater), Bristol, U.K.
1913---Danny Kaye (as David Daniel Kaminsky; comedian/actor: The Danny Kaye Show; The Big Show), Brooklyn.
1915---Bob Mosher (writer: Amos 'n' Andy; The Frank Morgan Show; The Harry Von Zell Show; The Charlie McCarthy Show), Auburn, New York.
1920---Constance Moore (singer/actress: Hollywood Mystery Time), Sioux City, Iowa.


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