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.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Date Still Lives in Infamy: The Way It Was, 7 December

1941: "THE JAPANESE HAVE ATTACKED THE PEARL HARBOUR, IN HAWAII, FROM THE AIR"---Was it a genuine sneak attack? Was it an act of retaliatory desperation following months of maneuvers and blockades? Was it known to be possible in advance enough of its terrible actuality?

Here as last year, this is not the place to re-open the debate that will live so long as the Date That Would Live in Infamy itself. Here, as last and every year, is the place to remember and, in your own quiet manner, analyse and reflect upon the manner in which old-time radio responded from the moment Japanese Zero aircraft swept over and bombed Pearl Harbour, provoking at last the United States' military entry into World War II.


WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PHILHARMONIC---The New York Philharmonic wasn't as lucky as Sammy Kaye---their Sunday performance over CBS is interrupted by John Daly with the Pearl Harbour bulletin . . .

THE BREAKING BULLETIN---NBC breaks the news that stuns a citizenry.

THE BREAKING BULLETIN, CONTINUED---CBS News's John Daly breaks into programming with a special The World Today bulletin tied to President Roosevelt's first announcement of the Pearl Harbour attack.

"BRUISER KENARD MADE THE TACKLE . . . WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST"---Once upon a time, there was a football team of Brooklyn Dodgers, and their game against the New York Giants is interrupted by a Mutual Broadcasting System bulletin.

THE EARLIEST DETAILS---Shortly after the attack is first known and reported, CBS News's Albert Warner ponders the forthcoming White House statement and the likely response from FDR, on this edition of The World Today.

LONDON LISTENING---CBS's Robert Trout reports the earliest British reaction to the news about Pearl Harbour.

MANILA FUDGE---Pearl Harbour wasn't the only target of Japanese bombers on the Date That Would Live in Infamy, reports NBC . . .

"THEY HAVE MADE WAR WITHOUT DECLARING IT"---On NBC, the distinguished veteran commentator H.V. Kaltenborn---whose regular Sunday slot was due, as it was---weighs in with a cool early Pearl Harbour analysis.

THERE WENT THE GOOD NEWS . . . ---This was one time NBC News's Listen, America---which normally hailed its audience, "We bring you good news!" introducing what we'd call a soft-news magazine today (one of today's segments will feature an item about popular soap Big Sister)---was going to be disrupted for none-too-good news . . .

THE CABINET AND HONOLULU---Within three hours of the attack's launch, NBC reports a Cabinet meeting called by the President and cuts to Honolulu, which has also been attacked, apparently.

"NOW, IT'S A TOPIC OF ALL CONVERSATION"---NBC London follows up on the continuing British reaction.

CONTINUING COVERAGE---Before The Catholic Hour with the Rev. James Gillis airs its normal Sunday afternoon program, NBC reports emergency Japanese cabinet meeting and another Japanese bombing attack.

"APPARENTLY CONFRONTED WITH A SITUATION FROM WHICH THERE WAS NO ESCAPE EXCEPT WAR"---CBS military analyst Maj. George Ellis gives a striking early analysis of the possible why and wherefore of the Japanese attacks.

A DECLARATION OF WAR---A surviving Japanese radio broadcast conveying Tojo's declaration of war against the Allies.

"WE ARE IN AN EXTREME CRISIS"---New York mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia addresses his constituents and the metropolitan area and accuses Nazi Germany of masterminding Japanese politics all the way up to the Pearl Harbour attacks---and urges New York citizens of Japanese descent to stay put pending further American government action regarding Japanese diplomats and consulate.

"THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IS MOVING RAPIDLY . . . to inter all Japanese nationals still in the United States, according to Walter Winchell on the Blue Network.

ROUNDTABLE---NBC News rounds up some of its news commentators---including H.V. Kaltenborn, Max Jordan, Luther Schweitzer, Edward Tomlinson, and Upton Close---for analysis and commentary.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is merely day one of a long and arduous haul, on the air, in the air, over the seas, and across the battlefields.


As you will hear, not all of the day's regularly scheduled programming was immune to the continuing developments, responses, and actions in the immediate wake of Pearl Harbour.

This time, as last year, I offer no synopses, merely episode titles, casts, and writers (when available to me), and merely let you listen for yourselves, to continue catching the harrowing flavour of the day and a nation's anxiety to maintain the proverbial even strain even in the immediate girding for war.

And, as last year, I dedicate it to the memory of all the men and women who lost their lives, at Pearl Harbour, throughout the coming war, and during any and every one of America's wars, wherever they fell, on behalf of the continuing, bloodied, but somehow (miraculously?) unbowed American experiment.

SUNDAY SERENADE---Bandleader Sammy Kaye's Sunday Serenade listenership has no idea about what will hit shortly after their Sunday afternoon soiree is finished.

ONE MAN'S FAMILY: A NEW INCIDENT IN THE MATTER OF IRENE FRANKLIN---Includes news updates, a report of LaGuardia's order that all Japanese nationals and citizens of Japanese descent to stay put. (NBC.)

Henry: J. Anthony Smythe. Paul: Michael Raffeto. Claudia: Kathleen Wilson. Clifford: Barton Yarborough. Writer: Carlton Morse.

HOUR OF CHARM---Music by Evelyn Kaye Klein (a.k.a. Evelyn and her Magic Violin), Vivien Maxine and Jeanette (a.k.a. the Three Little Words), cornetist Katharine Smith, and Phil Spitalny and his All-Girl Orchestra will be interrupted by an NBC report that FDR and his Cabinet should ask for a formal declaration of war at any moment, on the eve of a special session of Congress.

THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE: COUSIN OCTAVIA VISITS---About six and a half minutes into the episode, NBC News breaks in with the affirmation of Japan's declaration (as if Pearl Harbour meant they were only kidding) of war between itself and the United States, with "at least one Japanese aircraft carrier" continuing to operate near Pearl Harbour. But almost twelve minutes into the episode, NBC News reports via Panama that the same aircraft carrier may have just been sunk off Honolulu.

Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Birdie: Louise Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.

THE JELL-O PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, PART TWO---Dennis Day's music spot is interrupted by an announcement of auxiliary police emergency service instructions and citizen volunteer advisories, and a Phil Harris Orchrstra number is interrupted by a bulletin of Japan's takeover of an American power company in China.

Cast: Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Don Wilson. Music: Dennis Day, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

THE FITCH BANDWAGON---Colby Reed and his Orchestra host a show with guests including bandleader Horace Height, interrupted by an NBC bulletin from San Francisco: Mayor Angelo Roseby declares an emergency and orders the end of all strikes in the city on behalf of a unified front, while Washington declares borders closed to Japanese nationals.

Writers: Possibly George D. Faber and Martin Ragaway. (Note: This is the show that will transform, by 1947, into The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.)

THE CHASE & SANBORN PROGRAM WITH EDGAR BERGEN AND CHARLIE McCARTHY---While Abbott & Costello (performing their "Army Exam" routine) and Judy Garland (in a Christmas shopping routine, and singing "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart") join Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy for their show performed live from Fort Ord, California, NBC News reports the Dutch West Indies governor declares war on Japan, Japan informs an American command in Shanghai that war was declared, and further declarations against Japan are expected from around the world.

Additional cast: Edward Arnold. Music: Ray Noble Orchestra. Writers: Possibly Roland McLane, Royal Foster, Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher.


1879---Rudolf Frima (composer: The R ailroad Hour; Chicago Theater of the Air), Prague.
1892---Fay Bainter (actress: Nobody's Children; Cavalcade of America), Los Angeles.
1904---Bob Brown (announcer: Vic & Sade; Quicksilver), New York City.
1909---Arch Oboler (writer: Lights Out; Arch Oboler's Plays, and the infamous "Adam and Eve" sketch, The Chase & Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy), Chicago.
1910---Rod Cameron (actor: Screen Guild Theater), Calgary, Alberta.
1912---Louis Prima (trumpeter/bandleader: You Can't Have Everything; Songs By Sinatra; The Navy Swings), New Orleans.
1915---Eli Wallach (actor: Eternal Light), Brooklyn.
1918---Hurd Hatfield (actor: Best Plays; Crime Does Not Pay), New York City.
1920---Frances Gifford (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Long Beach, California.


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