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.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jot it Down: The Way It Was, 9 February

1902---One half of old-time radio's favourite rural enterpreneurs and friends is born today in Aleene, Arkansas: Chester Lauck, better known as Lum Edwards and a few other Pine Ridge denizens (specifically, and especially, Grandpappy Spears, Snake Hogan, and Cedric Wehunt) who will make Lum & Abner one of the medium's sleepy favourites for a quarter of a century.


1958---One of the last new series to get a try in what we now call the old-time radio era premieres on CBS: Frontier Gentleman.

Herewith, an Englishman's account of life and death in the West. As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual accounts. But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories. Now, starring John Dehner, this is the story of J. B. Kendall, Frontier Gentleman.

---The show's usual introduction.

Written and directed by Anthony Ellis---who sketches Kendall's travels through the American West for London Times stories, during which travels Kendall crosses paths (and, periodically, pistols) with the like of Jesse James, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, among others---the show's premise probably sounds more interesting than the execution. Frontier Gentleman will last only until 16 November 1958.

The cast is filled out with Harry Bartell, Lawrence Dobkin, Virginia Gregg, Stacy Harris, Johnny Jacobs, Joseph Kearns, Jack Kruschen, Jack Moyles, Jeanette Nolan, Vic Perrin and Barney Phillips---most of whom comprise a kind of Gunsmoke alumni association, with Bartell, Dobkin, Kearns, and Perrin all having featured on the earlier, classic Western.

Bartell has also been heard on The Charlotte Greenwood Show (comedy-variety); Dobkin, on Ellery Queen (he was the second actor to play the title role) and One Man's Family (on which Gregg and Perrin also appeared); and, Kearns, on The Jimmy Durante Show, The Judy Canova Show, The Mel Blanc Show, and Suspense, to name a few within his volume of radio credits.

When Frontier Gentleman begins, Kearns is on the threshold of gaining broad television face recognition: he will play cranky Mr. Wilson in the television version of Hank Ketcham's syndicated newspaper cartoon, Dennis the Menace. Upon his death, Kearns will be succeeded (sort of) by another radio veteran of long and distinguished service---Gale Gordon, who will play Mr. Wilson's brother for Dennis the Menace's final season.


1940: THE FORMATION OF THE MEN'S PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION---That's what the husbands of Pine Ridge have formed, frustrated by their wives' actual or alleged unreasonable demands, with Abner (Norris Goff) suffering early and having a second thought or three after he tests the association credo with Lisbeth, on today's installment of Lum & Abner. (CBS.)

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

1947: THE HITCHHIKER---She's an attractive lady (Wendy Playfair), accepting a somewhat fateful lift to Salt Lake City, on tonight's episode of The Clock. (ABC.)

Additional cast: Charles Kingwall, Ellen Weinberg. The Clock: Hart McGuire. Writer: Lawrence Klee.


1891---Ronald Colman (actor: The Jack Benny Program; Lux Radio Theater; The Halls of Ivy), Richmond, Surrey, U.K.
1899---Brian Donlevy (actor: Dangerous Assignment), Portadown County, Armagh, Ireland.
1914---Bob Hite (announcer: Challenge of the Yukon; The Green Hornet; Casey, Crime Photographer), unknown; Ernest Tubb (singer/host: Grand Ole Opry), Crisp, Texas.
1915---Charlotte Holland (actress: Lone Journey; This is Nora Drake), unknown.
1939---Janet Suzman (panelist: Quote . . . Unquote), Johannesburg, South Africa.


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