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, November 29, 2008

"Throw Down Those Little Old Guns": The Way It Was, November 29

1900---You can believe Mother and Father Sisk in Portland, Maine, have no clue their newborn daughter will grow up to become perhaps the single most notorious American to become an enemy broadcaster of World War II---after adopting the surname of her stepfather, studying music and drama in Dresden and teaching English at Berlin's Berlitz School of Languages, then hiring on as an announcer/actress with Radio Berlin.

At first, she will broadcast news and entertainment to English-speaking people in Europe. In due course, however, while stranded in Germany once the United States declares war, she will shift to propaganda broadcasting (with scripts written by others, but delivered in her seductive voice)---possibly under the influence of a German Foreign Service officer with whom she falls in love.

Introducing herself as "Midge at the Mike," she will earn a more infamous nickname from the Allied forces against whom she broadcast. And, after her conviction for treason over a single example of her propaganda broadcasts---the infamous D-Day lead-in, "Vision of Invasion" (11 May 1944)---and parole after serving twelve years of her ten-to-thirty sentence, the now-former Axis Sally will finish her life more quietly than ended the lives of those against and on behalf of whom she propagandised. She will earn a college degree from Ohio Wesleyan in 1973, and she will even teach music to kindergarten students at one time.


1927: THE VOICE---A Manhattan couple little suspects their newborn son will develop a mellifluous voice, a quick mind and wit, and a knack for phrasemaking enough to make him perhaps the greatest baseball announcer ever heard, once he's hired by Red Barber to join the Brooklyn Dodgers' broadcast team in 1950.

Almost sixty years later, he still presides over the Dodgers' telecasts in Los Angeles, simulcast on radio for the first three innings, and he still sustains a love affair with southern California and the country (he will be a longtime NBC national game-of-the-week and postseason voice) for his still-mellifluous voice, his continuing phrasemaking virtuosity, and his near-seamless transitions and parenthetical asides.

Eighty-one years young. The longest-serving voice with any major league baseball team. And, as if to secure his stature, a 2007 Internet poll named him---not a player, not an executive, not a manager---as the face of the Dodgers, never mind the voice.

There is but one Vin Scully. But if you don't believe me, don't ask him. He still thinks he's a lucky guy who's just going to work every day.


THE GRAPE-NUTS FLAKES PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY: GOING AFTER ROMMEL; OR, THREE MEN IN A TANK (NBC, 1942)---From Camp Young, Palm Springs: Three American tank troops (Jack Benny, Phil Harris, Don Wilson) make mincemeat of capturing the hidden Nazi general (Dennis Day)---and whatever remains of the northern African campaign, for that matter. Additinoal cast: Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson. Music: Phil Harris and his Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

BOSTON BLACKIE: THE SIMMONS CONSTRUCTION MURDER; OR, THE MAN WHO WAS SHOT ON THE 21st FLOOR (Blue Network/Frederick Ziv Company, syndicator, 1945)---When a popular construction foreman, seemingly without enemies, is shot to death from above the top of the project, Faraday (Maurice Tarplin) suspects the victim's hospitalised wife, but bedridden Blackie (Richard Kollmar) suspects the next victim---another popular foreman, also killed by the same high-powered weapon---killed the first. Mary: Jan Minor. Shorty: Tony Barrett. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Larry Elliott. Writers: Kenny Lyons, Ralph Rosenberg.

THE GREEN HORNET: THE GAS STATION PROTECTION RACKET (ABC; possible repeat of an earlier Mutual broadcast; 1945)---After Lowry (Jack Petruzzi) gets punched out by a gas station bombing victim who's afraid to talk publicly, Britt (Al Hodge) has a daring idea---he steals the protection money the victim was going to pay his tormentors, in a bid to lure him to talk and the tormentors into a trap. Lenore Case: Lee Allman. Kato: Raymond Hayoshi. Axford: James Irwin. Writer: Fran Striker.

THE LIFE OF RILEY: THANKSGIVING WITH THE GILLISES (NBC, 1947)---The Rileys and the Gillises planned for their friendly-rivalry families to share Thanksgiving---until both husbands invite the boss to dinner, to butter him up over a newly-vacant plant foreman's job. Riley: William Bendix. Gillis: Possibly Sidney Tomack. Peg: Paula Winslowe. Babs: Sharon Douglas. Junior: Scotty Beckett. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Writers: Ruben Schipp, Ashmael Scott.


1895---Yakima Canutt (actor: Daredevils of Hollywood; Hollywood Rodeo), Colfax, Washington.
1905---Mario Braggiotti (composer/pianist: Fray and Braggiotti), Florence; Chester Erskine (director: Lux Radio Theater), Hudson, New York.
1906---Luis van Rooten (actor: County Seat; John's Other Wife; Nero Wolfe), Mexico City.
1913---Harry Bartell (actor: Nero Wolfe; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Gunsmoke), New Orleans.
1917---Merle Travis (singer/guitarist: Hollywood Barn Dance), Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
1921---Dagmar (as Virginia Egnor; actress/panelist: Stars on Parade; Says Who?), Huntington, West Virginia.
1926---Naomi Stevens (actress: One Man's Family; Brenthouse), Trenton, New Jersey.


Blogger Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

That Riley broadcast is one of my favorite holiday shows.

7:16 PM  

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