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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Doctor Moves His Shingle: The Way It Was, 29 April

1940---Five months after his practise opens on NBC's Blue Network, Young Doctor Malone moves to CBS, sponsored by General Foods' Post cereals, and starring future Ethel & Albert/The Couple Next Door co-star Alan Bunce as small-town physician Jerry Malone in fictitious Three Oaks.

The show will change sponsors, from General Foods to Procter & Gamble, in 1945---the fourth Irna Phillips soap to be sponsored by the soap and hygiene products giant since they bought the rights to The Right of Happiness. And, as of 1947, the title role will be played by its best-remembered portrayer, future New York children's television legend Sandy Becker.

Young Doctor Malone will also achieve a kind of milestone in June 1952, when Procter & Gamble begins taping the live CBS broadcasts of Young Doctor Malone and The Brighter Day one day . . . and repeating them on NBC the next.

In between Alan Bunce and Sandy Becker, Jerry Malone will be played by Carl Frank and Charles Irving. Elizabeth Reller and, later, Barbara Weeks, will play Malone's first wife, Ann; daughter Jill will be played by Madeleine Pierce (Just Plain Bill; Ethel & Albert), Joan Lazer, and Rosemary Rice; Malone's intrusive mother, by Evelyn Varden (Big Sister; Front Page Farrell; mr. ace and JANE; The Road of Life) and Vera Allen (Big Sister; Hilltop House); and, second wife Tracy by Joan Alexander (Against the Storm; The Brighter Day), Jone Allison, and Gertrude Warner (Against the Storm; Beyond These Valleys; The Brighter Day; Brownstone Valley).

The heroes of Young Doctor Malone, Big Sister, and Young Widder Brown are doctors, and medical men flit in and out of all other serials. The predominance of doctors may be accounted for by the fact that radio surveys have frequently disclosed that the practise of medicine is at the top of the list of professions popular with the American housewife.

. . . Dr. Jerry Malone, by the way, won my True Christian Martyr Award for 1947 by being tried for murder and confined to a wheelchair at the same time. In March of this year, the poor fellow came full Soapland circle by suffering an attack of amnesia.

---James Thurber, in "Soapland: Ivorytown, Rinsoville, Anacinville, and Crisco Corners," The New Yorker, 1948; republished in The Beast in Me and Other Animals: A New Collection of Pieces and Drawings About Human Beings and Less Alarming Creatures. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948.)

The show's writers included David Driscoll, Julian Funt, David Leeson, and Charles Sussman---the last of whom also wrote for such Phillips soaps as The Right to Happiness and The Road of Life.


1939: THE CLIFF---Five years after forcing his naive subordinate (Milton C. Herman) over a cliff following a botched job, counterfeiter Mack Weber (Frank Lovejoy) looks about to face a similar fate---at the gunpoint of the subordinate's widow (Betty Winkler), on tonight's edition of Arch Oboler's Plays. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Betty Kane, Curt Conway. Writer/director: Arch Oboler.

1945: "WE MUST TAKE THE GOOD NEWS WITH THE BAD"---A Kamikaze attack on an American hospital ship docked off Guam, killing 29 and wounding 33; unconfirmed dispatches of Hitler's death in Berlin; a Swedish confab regarding reputed surrender offerings and terms by SS chief Heinrich Himmler; and, other flashes, bashes, speculations, and rapid-firing on tonight's edition of The Jergen's Journal with Walter Winchell. (ABC.)

1951: "TALLULAH, YOU'RE STARTING . . . "---Dame Tallulah Bankhead being kind to her is just about the last thing Ethel Merman can handle . . .

BANKHEAD: Well, darlings, yesterday the producer of this show told me that I have been mistreating our guest stars. That I was insulting, belligerent, rough, and tough. Well, I've come to the conclusion that he's right---and I'm gonna tell him so when he gets out of the hospital.

From now on, I know what I'll do. Every time I find myself losing my temper, I'll remember this little motto: (lowering her voice)One, two---think it through; three, four---don't get sore; five, six---never mix; seven, eight---hesitate; nine, ten---friends again. Heh-heh . . . isn't that sweet? I found it on the back of the box of the largest oatmeal flakes I've ever eaten.

But you just notice how it works when I introduce our first box of oats---I mean, our first guest, Ethel Merman. Ladies and gentlemen, it is with the greatest of pleasure . . . that I now present (trilling with exaggeration) that lovely, charming, gracious first lady of musical comedy herself . . . (mock impatience) Well, Ethel, get it over here! (Laughter.)

MERMAN: Who, me?
BANKHEAD: I said Ethel Merman! (Applause.)
MERMAN: Was that you saying all those nice things about me?
BANKHEAD: That's right, darling.
MERMAN: Well, cut it out!
BANKHEAD: (mock astonishment) Why?
MERMAN: 'Cause then I'll have to say nice things about you, and I'm not that good an actress.
BANKHEAD: (softly, possibly through gritted teeth) One, two---think it through . . . three, four---don't get sore . . .
MERMAN: What? I can't hear you, what's the matter with you?
BANKHEAD: (snapping back to) Oh, Ethel, I'm fine, I'm all sweetness and light. Now let's not start any quarrels, shall we, darling? Can't we just chat without bickering about who's a better actress or who's older than whom?
MERMAN: That's OK with me. I don't like to bring up the age question.
BANKHEAD: Good. (Pregnant pause.) How are you doing in your wonderful musical comedy called Call Me Grandmother
---I mean Call Me Madam?
MERMAN: (cattily) Tallulah, you're starting---
BANKHEAD: Aahh, I'm sorry, darling, I-I-I didn't mean that. Please forgive me.
MERMAN: OK, and just to show you there's no hard feelings, I want to tell you how much I admire that gown you're wearing. Where'd you get it?
BANKHEAD: Thiiiiiiiiiis? Oh-oh, well, it's just an old sack.
MERMAN: I think it's very attractive.
BANKHEAD: Well, that's sweet, darling, but it's just an old sack.
MERMAN: All right, where'd you get that old sack?
BANKHEAD: (low voice) One, two---think it through . . . (normal voice) This old sack, as you call it, cost me $750.
MERMAN: Well! Potatoes are rather high, aren't they?
BANKHEAD: (low voice) Three, four---don't get sore . . .
MERMAN: I see they left some of the potatoes in the sack.
BANKHEAD: Those are not potatoes!

Neither one, of course, is really complaining, on a night where the music highlights include Merman and Rosemary Clooney; the comedy highlights include Milton Berle and Jimmy Durante; the drama includes Frank Lovejoy in a scene from his film (and, soon, radio show) I Was a Communist For the FBI; and, Gordon McRae with Bankhead, Berle, Durante, and Merman in a skit about NBC pageboys' Radio City studio tours, among other jewels on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Music: Meredith Willson Orchestra, the Big Show Chorus. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1896---Harry McNaughton (actor/panelist: It's Higgins, Sir; It Pays to be Ignorant), Surbiton, U.K.
1899---Duke Ellington (as Edward Kennedy Ellington; jazz composer/pianist/bandleader: Jubilee; Orson Welles Theatre; The Story of Swing; New Year's Radio Dance Party, 1945-46), Washington, D.C.
1903---Richard Leibert (organist: Dick Liebert's Musical Revue; Organ Rhapsody), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Frank Parker (singer: The A&P Gypsies; The Jack Benny Program; The Frank Parker Show), New York City.
1904---Russ Morgan (bandleader: The Russ Morgan Orchestra), Scranton, Pennsylvania.
1912---Richard Carlson (actor: Lux Radio Theater); Albert Lea, Minnesota; Ian Martin (actor: Young Doctor Malone; Meet Corliss Archer), Glasgow; John McVane (NBC News World War II correspondent), Portland, Maine.
1914---Derek Guyler (actor: It's That Man Again), Wallasey, Merseyside, U.K.
1915---Donald Mills (singer, with the Mills Brothers: The Mills Brothers Show), Piqua, Ohio.
1919---Celeste Holm (actress: The House on Q Street, Great Scenes from Great Plays, Lux Radio Theater), New York City.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home