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, April 25, 2008

Death of a Diary: The Way It Was, 25 April

1969---Five thousand, five hundred and thirty one broadcasts after premiering in 1948, Mrs. Dale's Diary, Britain's first post-World War II old-time radio soap, airs for the final time, in an episode in which daughter Gwen Dale (Aline Waites) becomes engaged to a television producer (John Justin).

First aired on The Light Programme 5 January 1948, Mrs. Dale's Diary had a fan in the royal family---the Queen Mother herself, who was quoted once as saying the show was "the only way of knowing what goes on in a middle class family."

Set first in the Parkwood Hill suburb of Middlesex, then moved to Exton, the show's tone altered somewhat as its life went on, with the younger characters taking on a newer maturity and even social consciences.

Gwen, the popular daughter, was portrayed by Virginia Hewitt, Joan Newell, and Beryl Calder, before Aline Waites made the role hers for much of the soap's life.

Others were son Bob (Nicholas Parsons, Hugh Latimer, Derek Hart, and Leslie Heritage for nearly two decades); charwoman Mrs. Morgan (Grace Allardyce); her eventual husband, Mr. Maggs (Jack Howarth); grumpy neighbour Mrs. Mountford (Vivienne Chatterton); and, Mrs. Leathers, a Cockney acquaintance (Hattie Jacques).

Except for one brief interruption in the show's early years, the title character of Mrs. Dale's Diary belonged mostly to Ellis Powell, with Dr. Jim Dale played for the full life of the soap by Douglas Burbidge. Powell's early substitute, Thea Wells, stayed with the soap and took the more permanent role of Isobel Fielding.

Powell's years as Mrs. Dale were ended when, reportedly, the BBC sought to modernise the show further; she died not long after losing the role to Jessie Matthews, who---ironically enough---was haunted by her own health problems during her time on the show.

For Matthews, the ironies didn't end: According to British soap chronicler Roger Sansom, after Mrs. Dale's Diary ended at last, Matthews played a soap character who was a household name . . . until losing her role in a policy shakeup.


1874: BIRTH OF A FATHER---Guglielmo Marconi is born in Bologna; his future experiments in producing and detecting over long distances the radio waves discovered by Heinrich Hertz will launch the activities---including the world's first known successful commercial wireless company---that earn him the sobriquet "the father of radio."

1945: AUF WIEDERSEN---Radio 1212---the so-called "black propaganda" operation based at Radio Luxembourg (who turned its facilities over to the U.S. Army after the Grand Duchy had been liberated), operated by the U.S. Office of War Information's Psychological Warfare Division (supervised by CBS chief William S. Paley), whose mission it was to broadcast as though from Nazi Germany and gain an audience of loyal Nazis before using that influence against them---broadcasts for the final time.


1939: ROTTEN DAVIS TELEPHONES---There went the calm after dinner, interrupting leisurely Vic (Art Van Harvey) on the davenport, pondering Seattle; Sade (Bernadine Flynn) in the easy chair, pondering nothing in particular; and, Rush (Bill Idelson) pondering his old enemy algebra, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1944: HOPE AND CROSBY---Beware . . . it's not quite the Hope or Crosby you think, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (Blue Network.)

Miss Duffy: Helen Lynd. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Music: Peter van Steeden and His Orchestra. Writers: Ed Gardner, possibly Bob Schiller, others.

1944: TROUBLE OPENING THE PACKAGE---Merely receiving a mysterious package from Tennessee is nothing compared to that kind of trouble---especially with Lum (Chester Lauck) itching to get to whatever's inside and Abner (Norris Goff) thinking it isn't all that much to begin with, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (Blue Network.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff, possibly Wedlock & Snyder.

1948: SCALPING BASEBALL TICKETS---For which your host and the then-manager (returning from suspension and not very long for his job as it was) of the Boys of Summer in waiting are brought to trial, after the Alley deminonde is compelled to ruminate on superstitions, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Leo Durocher: Himself. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus Moody: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Bob Schiller, Nat Hiken.


1899---Guinn Williams (actor: Biography in Sound), Decatur, Texas.
1908---Edward R. Murrow (as Egbert Roscoe Murrow; newscaster/commentator, CBS), Pole Cat Creek, North Carolina.
1918---Ella Fitzgerald (jazz singer: Flow Gently, Sweet Rhythm, Jubilee, The Big Show), Newport News, Virginia.
1919---Albert Alley (actor: Hop Harrigan, Stella Dallas), New York City.
1921---Robert Q. Lewis (actor/comedian: The Horn and Hardardt Children's Hour, Arthur Godfrey Time, The Robert Q. Lewis Show, mr. ace and JANE), New York City.


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