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.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swinging and Swaying: The Way It Was, 13 March

1910---Well, he doesn't necessarily swing or sway when he is born today in Lakewood, Ohio, but Samuel Zarnocay, Jr. will take up the saxophone and clarinet in due course and lead one of the most popular big bands of the old-time radio era.

As Sammy Kaye, he will lead one of the "sweet" bands (such as those led by Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, Carmen Cavallaro, and Freddy Martin) of the 1930s and 1940s. He will become one of the bands featured on old-time radio's Chesterfield Supper Club, but he will become known best for Sunday Serenade and So You Want to Lead a Big Band?---the latter a program in which members of the audience got a chance to conduct the Kaye orchestra.

The "Swing and Sway" tag line, incidentally, would be born during an early stand at Cleveland's Cabin Club, where the Kaye band performances were broadcast on regional radio. The show's announcer would try numerous rhythmic tags to introduce the band, until he came up with "Let's swing and sway with Sammy Kaye" . . . and a fan subsequently came to an evening's stand hollering, "Hi, Swing and Sway!" to Kaye. The tag would stick . . . and become one of the best known slogans of the big band years.

Kaye will retire in 1986, a year before his death, passing the leadership of the band to trumpeter Roger Thorpe, who will continue leading the band into the 21st Century.


1922: IT ISN'T EXACTLY WALKING INTO THE CROWDED FIREHOUSE YELLING "MOVIE!" KIDDIES---But it is about as close as you can get to one exemplary answer as to just what your friendly neighbourhood Dallas fire department might do when there are no fires to fight, if they just so happen to have radio equipment. You could call them old-time radio's original fire chiefs.

The root belongs to Dallas police and fire signal superintendent Henry Garrett, whose off-duty passion for radio tinkering leads to his bringing it to the job, convincing Dallas city fathers it might be a great way to keep Dallas's Bravest in touch in the field and between blaze and base.

It was merely an unanticipated fringe benefit that the men in red inadvertently convinced Dallas citizens on radio, period, when they began killing their non-emergency firehouse time by opening the airwaves and playing music, telling jokes, or both.

The connection gets its due today: WRR-AM hits the air formally for the first time. Within four years, the station will move from the firehouse to the fancy house, also known as the Adolphus Hotel, a year before it begins to accept and air advertising commercials. It will take residence at the Jefferson and Hilton Hotels before finding its permanent home in the late 1930s, at the state fairgrounds. It will acquire FM frequency in 1948 and broadcast AM and FM until selling the AM side in 1978.

And, it will become an anomaly among locality-owned radio stations: the tax man doesn't fund it, advertising dollars do. And WRR-FM will be the sole commercial classical music radio outlet in the entire state of Texas.


1948: JURY DUTY---More accurately, disorder in the court, when Jane (Ace) gets a jury duty summons and shiftless brother Paul (Leon Janney) turns up as a surprise witness; or, as Mr. (Goodman) Ace puts it, Jane weighed in on the scales of justice at 105, wearing purple trunks and an off-the-face hat. In the other corner, in the black robe, her very capable opponent, the judge, at 178. That's blood pressure. That's also tonight's edition of mr. ace and JANE. (CBS.)

Ken: Ken Roberts. Sally: Florence Robinson. Additional cast: Everett Sloan, Edgar Staley, Ann Summers, Frank Butler, Gavin Gordon, Michael Abbott, Jo Carol Dennis, Cliff Hall. Writer: Goodman Ace.

1949: DEATH IS A DOLL---Doris Gordon (Lurene Tuttle) draws Dan Holliday (Alan Ladd) to her Louisiana turf with a letter claiming a man she knows believes he'll be dead in five days for no evident reason . . . but one "fantastic" one, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Susie: Sylvia Picker. Additional cast: John Beal, Frank Lovejoy. Writer: Clark Wilbur.

1954: CONFEDERATE MONEY---Hard-nosed, reformed drinker Fate Ender (Harry Bartell) fires hard-drinking employee Neil Butler (Vic Perrin) publicly after a saloon incident---but after someone shoots Ender in the arm, Matt (William Conrad) and Chester (Parley Baer) have two possible killers to stop: Ender, who thinks Butler shot him in the arm from a distance; and, Butler, who knows the shooter's identity while under pressure to get Ender first, on tonight's edition of Gunsmoke. (CBS.)

Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Doc: Howard McNear. Additional cast: James Ogg, Barney Phillips. Writer: John Meston.


1873---Nellie Revell (commentator: Neighbour Nell, Meet the Artist), Springfield, Illinois.
1896---Leona Powers (actress: My Son Jeep, The Aldrich Family), Salida, Colorado.
1898---Henry Hathaway (director: Screen Director's Playhouse), Sacramento, California.
1907---Frank Wilcox (actor: Central City), DeSoto, Missouri.
1908---Paul Stewart (actor: Easy Aces, Life Can Be Beautiful, Rogue's Gallery), New York City.
1914---Bob Weiskopf (writer: The Eddie Cantor Show, Chesterfield Supper Club, The Rudy Vallee Show, The Fred Allen Show, The Bob Hope Show, and one script for Our Miss Brooks), Chicago.


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