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, December 30, 2008

Crime Couple: The Way It Was, 30 December

1942: NO CRIME TO BE MIXED UP IN MURDER---It begins as a light comedy, just as the novel which birthed the first couple of old-time radio sleuthing. But it turns swiftly enough into playing the crime theme for laughs and romance. Mr. and Mrs. North, with Joseph Curtin and Alice Frost in the title roles, premieres tonight on NBC and, once it switches the congenial couple more toward crime solving, the show becomes a swift ratings rival to Mr. District Attorney.

The show also features Betty Jane Tyler as the Norths' niece, Susan; Staats Cotsworth, then Frank Lovejoy and Francis DeSales as Chief Det. Bill Weigand; Walter Kinsella as Sgt. Mullins; and, Mandel Kramer as Mahatma McGloin. Michael Morris, Jerome Epstein, Hector Chevigny, Louis Vittes, and Robert Sloane write the show's scripts, based on the Mr. and Mrs. North series of mystery novels by Francis and Richard Lockridge.

The series proved to be enormously successful, spinning off a movie starring George Burns and Gracie Allen, a long-running (162 performances) play on Broadway, a radio drama which lasted for thirteen years, and a popular television show, with Richard Denning and Barbara Britton, which aired for two years. Of the small number of married sleuths in the history of crime fiction, the Norths had the longest sustained series, which ended only with of the death of Frances Lockridge in 1963.

The characters were originally invented by Richard for some vignettes he wrote for the New York Sun during the early thirties and which he later resurrected in the short domestic comedies he contributed to The New Yorker, by which time the Norths had acquired their full names but not yet their abilities as amateur detectives. A collection of the stories was published in 1936 as Mr. and Mrs. North. The crime novels originated when Frances Lockwood started writing a mystery during one summer vacation. Stuck on a plot complication she called on her husband for help and the writing team was launched. Because the Norths already had some name recognition, the Lockridges decided to use Pam and Jerry as their central characters and retain the humorous tone and the playful interaction between the couple from the earlier stories. The first Mr. and Mrs. North mystery, The Norths Meet Murder, was published in 1940.


1933: FROM THE BOUNDLESS EVERYWHERE---A one-man show with a one-of-a-kind (for its time) sponsor's tag. Such was Majestic's Master of Mystery, premiering tonight and starring Maurice Joachim as the sole performer---reading the stories and performing all the evening's roles.

The one-of-a-kind sponsor's tag was in the show's introduction.

In the majesty of motion, from the boundless everywhere, comes the magic name---Majestic... mighty monarch of the air!

Majestic Radio, having enjoyed share enough of the radio market in the 1920s, dreams up the introduction as their idea of a clever grabber to reinvigorate the brand's sales.


FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: FIX-IT McGEE (NBC, 1941)---Molly (Marian Jordan, who also plays Mrs. Wearybottom) has reason enough to fret when she sees that look in McGee's (Jim Jordan) eye---the look of a man itching to fix things, regardless of whether they're necessarily broken. Mrs. Uppington: Amanda Randolph. LaTrivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

THE LUCKY STRIKE PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY: THE END OF THE CONTEST (NBC, 1945)---That would be the "I Can't Stand Jack Benny Contest," of course, the entries from which rather amaze the wry protagonist while amusing his companions, including Mary's (Livingstone) parrot whom he struggles to teach to say "Happy New Year." Cast: Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR: THE FORBES MATTER (CONCLUSION) (CBS, 1955)---Dollar (Bob Bailey) confronts Sheldon Forbes (Jack Edwards), who stole nearly five thousand dollars trying to win a singing actress (Sandra Gould) with no apparent interest in him---and who ended up in the hospital following a suicide attempt, all of which provoke the woman to an unexpected decision. Writer: John Dawson.

GUNSMOKE: HOUND DOG (CBS; REBROADCAST: ARMED FORCES RADIO AND TELEVISION SERVICE, 1955)---Doc (Howard McNear) loses a patient---a spotted dog whose shooting death makes Matt (William Conrad) fear for its owner's life. Chester: Parley Baer. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: George Walsh. Writer: Les Crutchfield.


1885---Ed Jerome (actor: Blackstone, the Magic Detective), New York City.
1894---Vincent Lopez (bandleader: Luncheon with Lopez), Brooklyn.
1899---Michael Raffetto (actor: One Man's Family; I Love a Mystery), Placerville, California.
1900---Everett Marshall (singer: Broadway Vanities), Lawrence, Massachussetts.
1911---Jeanette Nolan (actress :One Man's Family; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), Los Angeles.
1912---Nancy Coleman (actress: Young Doctor Malone), Everett, Washington; Hugh Griffith (actor: Under Milk Wood), Mariangalas, Anglesley, North Wales.
1914---Bert Parks (as Bert Jacobsen; singer/comedian: The Eddie Cantor Show; host: Break the Bank; Stop the Music; Double or Nothing), Atlanta.
1922---Bert Holland (actor: Shorty Bell), unknown.
1927---Bernard Barrow (actor: Golden Door), New York City.
1931---Skeeter Davis (as Mary Frances Penick; singer: Barnyard Frolics; Grand Ole Opry), Dry Ridge, Kentucky.
1935---Sandy Koufax (as Sanford Braun; Hall of Fame baseball player: Tops in Sports), Brooklyn.


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