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, May 06, 2008

Pitching Vouz and Other Charms: The Way It Was, 6 May

1951---Season One of old-time radio's greatest last-gasp variety program ends with a wallop enough, thanks to an energetically witty cast---including Fred Allen ("My present sponsor, the unemployment bureau"), George Jessel ("Try not to think of it as losing a show, try to think of it as gaining an hour and a half"), and Groucho Marx.

LUCIENNE BOYER (French chanteuse): Caman ale vouz, Monsieur Marx.
GROUCHO: Well, coman---that's the old come on . . . ale, well, everybody knows what an alley is . . . and, vouz, that can mean only one thing---so caman out in the ale and let's pitch some vouz.

Some of the show's sharper comedy to date is enough to make you forgive them (almost) the saccharine pre-ending and Margaret Truman's singing (though she proves a capable enough straightwoman), on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Hostess: Tallulah Bankhead. Additional cast: Portland Hoffa, Ginger Rogers. Music: Meredith Willson and His Orchestra, the Big Show Chorus. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Frank Wilson.


1937---What was intended to be a mere transcribed report of the first American landing of the year, an experiment in pre-recording a news event for delayed broadcast, becomes a legend of old-time radio spot reporting: WLS correspondent Herbert Morrison's eyewitness account of the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Seventy years to the day after the mammoth airship went from quiet alignment above the Lakehurst Naval Air Station mooring mast to crashing inferno, Morrison's report---from calm, near-routine description to emotional combustion at least the equal of the two bursts that ignited and felled the Hindenburg---continues to grip, even if the recording so familiar to radio buffs and historians alike may have been speeded up in the translation. (In due course, a version of the recording played at proper speed will allow listeners to hear clearly enough the shock wave from the major blast that took down the Hindenburg.)

That said, the report may still inspire reporters born years after the event on how it should be done. As for Herb Morrison himself, he will leave WLS a year after his most famous assignment to take a job with Mutual Broadcasting System. The Pennsylvania-born Morrison (1906-1989) will live in West Virginia, near Cheat Lake outside Morgantown, after he retires.


1945: HIRED WIFE---Adapted from the 1940 film, a secretary (Joan Bennett, in the Rosalind Russell role) who married an ad executive (Robert Paige, in the Brian Ahern role) to help him protect his money during a major deal won't let him fire---er, divorce her to pursue a model, on tonight's edition of The Old Gold Comedy Theater. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Edmund McDonald. Based on the story by George Beck and screenplay by Richard Connell. Host/director: Harold Lloyd.

1946: OVERWEIGHT---Home movies after dinner remind Liz (Lucille Ball) and Iris (Bea Benaderet) too much of the lean years---theirs, driving them to diet and their snack-sneaking husbands to wagering on them, on tonight's edition of My Favourite Husband. (CBS.)

George: Richard Denning. Rudolph: Gale Gordon. Katie: Ruth Paret. Writers: Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh, Jess Oppenheimer.

1947: OIL STOCK---Buying some in a pique of spring fever that has him longing to marry Betty (Mary Jane Croft) in style, Mel (Blanc, who also plays Zookie---using the famous Porky Pig voice) learns the hard way (doesn't he always?) that it's as phony as a forty dollar bill, on tonight's edition of The Mel Blanc Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Elvia Allman, Hans Conried, Joseph Kearns, Earle Ross. Music: Victor Miller and His Orchestra, the Sports Men. Writer: Mack Benoff.


1899---Billy Cotton (bandleader: Wakey, Wakey), London.
1900---Dave Elman (host: Hobby Lobby), Park River, North Dakota.
1906---Mathilde Ferror (writer: Lorenzo Jones), unknown.
1908---Harry (Parkyakarkus) Einstein (comedian: The Eddie Cantor Show; The Al Jolson Show; Meet Me at Parkys), Boston.
1910---Alice Reinheart (actress: Casey, Crime Photographer; The Abbott Mysteries), Denver.
1911---Frank Nelson (actor/comedian: Jeff Regan, Investigator; The Jack Benny Program), Denver.
1912---Bill Quinn (actor: Against the Storm; When a Girl Marries), New York City.
1913---Carmen Cavallaro (pianist/bandleader: The Schaefer Revue; Tums Tune Time), New York City; Stewart Granger (actor: Lux Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater), London.
1915---Orson Welles (as George Orson Welles; writer/director/actor: Columbia Workshop; Mercury Theater on the Air; The Shadow; Texaco Star Theater Starring Fred Allen; The Fred Allen Show; The Jack Benny Program; Orson Welles's Almanac; This Is My Best), Kenosha, Wisconsin.


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