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.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Older Ones Are Hard to Kill: The Way It Was, 6 January

1974: THE OLD ONES ARE HARD TO KILL---Two old-time radio veterans star in the premiere installment: Agnes Moorhead (Suspense, Mayor of the Town, more) and Leon Janney (Charlie Chan, Chandu the Magician, mr. ace and JANE, more). And thus launches one of the most memorable bids to resurrect the feel and aesthetic of classic radio---The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, created by the venerable Himan Brown and hosted by E.G. Marshall.

In two ways, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater would live up to the title of its maiden episode. Perhaps considering its creator and mastermind, the show will seem more than a little too referential to such classic radio antedecents as The Inner Sanctum Mysteries (Brown's own creation) and Suspense, particularly its use of a slightly noisy closing door, Marshall's customary signoff ("Pleasant . . . dreams?"), and the periodic adaptations of vintage literature into the show's customary inclination toward the macabre, even when it reached out to bring in elements of comedy, historical drama, and science fiction, though not always successfully.

But also over the course of its life, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater would mix contemporary actors with the men and women who made old-time radio breathe to its original listeners. Moorehead and Janney are just two of a distinguished resurrected company that will also include:

MASON ADAMS, the longtime star of Pepper Young's Family.
HANS CONREID, the former co-star of My Friend Irma and Life with Luigi.
RICHARD CRENNA, who couldn't do enough for Our Miss Brooks.
ROBERT DRYDEN, who appeared in the casts of Big Town, Casey, Crime Photographer, and other dramas.
MERCEDES McCAMBRIDGE, one-time Big Sister star and frequently cast in other serials and dramas.
BRET MORRISON, the longtime Shadow.
VIRGINIA PAYNE, Ma Perkins herself.
ALEXANDER SCOURBY, the mellifluous veteran of Against the Storm, The Open Door, The Right to Happiness, and The Second Mrs. Burton.
ARNOLD STANG, Henry Morgan's usual second banana.
KARL SWENSON, Lorenzo Jones himself.
JOAN TOMPKINS, also a veteran of Big Sister and other classic radio soaps.

The preponderance of the show's scripts will be written by Sam Dann, Ian Martin, Murray Burnett, Arnold Moss, Gerald Keane, and Elspeth Eric; and, in 1975, its second year on the air, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater will win a Peabody Award.


1936: MEN ARE THE WEAKER SEX---So conclude the ladies, who go from there to pondering what the gentlemen are going to do about it, on today's edition of Clara, Lu, & Em. (NBC Blue.)

Clara: Louise Starkey. Lu: Isabel Carothers. Em: Helen King. Announcer: King Carl King. Writers: Unknown.

1945: THE FIRST SHOW---Now, if only the star can sign his contract and get over that case of nerves before special guest Eddie Cantor steals the whole thing from him, on tonight's premiere of The Danny Kaye Show. (CBS.)

Cast: Eve Arden, Lionel Stander. Mr. Pabst: Frank Nelson. Annoucner: Ken Niles. Music: Harry James and His Orchestra. Writers: Goodman Ace, Abe Burrows, Sylvia Fine.

1946: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT---The Alley demimonde assess the best films of the previous year, before Fred (Allen) reviews his previous week's arrest at Radio City, after he ordered his cab to stop after his wallet turned up missing and he returned to the studio stuck for the cab fare, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Guest: Phil Baker. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Falstaff: Alan Reed. Announcer: Kenny Delmar. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Larry Marks, Robert Weiskopf.


1903---Francis L. Sullivan (actor: U.S. Steel Hour), London.
1907---Helen Kleeb (actress: Dr. Kate; Gunsmoke), South Bend, Washington.
1911---Joey Adams (as Joseph Abramowitz; comedian/host: Rate Your Mate), Brooklyn.
1912---Danny Thomas (as Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yaqoob; comedian/actor: The Bickersons; The Chase and Sanborn Hour; The Big Show), Deerfield, Michigan.
1913---Loretta Young (as Gretchen Young; actress: Family Theater; Lux Radio Theater), Salt Lake City.
1913---Tom Brown (actor: Suspense; Lux Radio Theater; Texaco Star Theater), New York City.
1914---George Reeves (as George Keefer Brewer; actor: Lux Radio Theater; Crime Does Not Pay), Woolstock, Iowa.


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