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, December 20, 2008

"Don't Overlook Those Lovely Intangibles": The Way It Was, 20 December

---In a presentation just as sterling (and stirring) on old-time radio as it was on screen, Edmund Gwenn reprises his virtuoso, Oscar-winning film role as what TV Guide would describe, in due and inimitable course, as "the department store Santa who goes on trial to prove he's the real Kris Kringle," challenging at once the recalcitrance of the law, the stubborn idealism of the young lawyer (John Payne, also reprising his film role) who defends him, and the stubborn literalism of an embittered mother (Maureen O'Hara (also reprising her film role) and her cynical little daughter.

Host: William Keighley. Adapted from the screenplay by Valentine Davies and George Seaton.


2003: AU REVOIR TO NORA'S MAN---Les Tremayne, remembered best as Nick Charles in old-time radio's Adventures of the Thin Man and as the first leading man for The Romance of Helen Trent, dies of heart failure at 90.

The Briton who moved to America as a boy, and learned to hide his native English accent under assault from Chicago bullies, was also a prominent actor in such radio vintages as One Man's Family, The Falcon, Wendy Warren and the News, and Grand Hotel, after receiving his first break stepping in for Don Ameche to host The First Nighter in 1936.

Though known primarily for radio drama, Tremayne also teamed with a barely-known comic for a radio series in the 1940s. The barely-known comic's name was Jackie Gleason.

Renowned for his ability to perform with little or no rehearsal, Tremayne was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.


LUX RADIO THEATER: SONG OF SONGS (CBS, 1937)---It isn't exactly a Christmas story--- but it is what host Cecil B. DeMille calls the Christmas gift to the nation from one of its favourite and best-respected old-time radio dramatic anthologies: Marlene Dietrich---on the threshold of her becoming an American citizen---reprises her 1933 film role as the orphan who stays with her Parisian aunt and falls for a sculptor who wants her to marry a wealthy client. Richard: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (in the Brian Aherne film role). Additional cast: Lionel Atwill (reprising his film role as Baron von Merzbach), Pedro DeCordoba; special guest: Walt Disney. Adapted from the screenplay by Edward Sheldon, Leo Birinsky, and Samuel Hoffenstein.

THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE: CHRISTMAS 1942 (NBC, 1942)---Rushed to get the annual state of the water department report done by Christmas Eve, an exhausted Gildy (Harold Peary) collapses asleep at his desk and sleeps there through the night . . . haunted into the holiday anti-spirit by rapid-fire dreams of gift demands, and a romantic misunderstanding. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Floyd: Arthur Q. Bryan. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Leila: Shirley Mitchell. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Announcer: John Wald. Writers: John Whedon and Sam Moore.

GUNSMOKE: CHRISTMAS STORY (CBS, 1952)---Stranded after he has to put his injured horse out of his misery as Christmas Eve arrives, Matt (William Conrad) is offered a ride the rest of the way home by a drifting former sailor (possible John Dehner)---who unburdens a terrible secret and makes a major decision, after Matt tells him of last year's Christmas in Dodge. Chester: Parley Baer Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Doc: Howard McNear. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Antony Ellis.


1889---Ernest la Prade (conductor: Collier's Hour; Orchestra of the Nation), Memphis.
1898---Irene Dunne (actress: Bright Star; Family Theater; Hallmark Hall of Fame), Louisville.
1900---Ted Fio Rito (bandleader: Presenting Al Jolson; The Wonder Show with Jack Haley), Newark.
1905---Albert Dekker (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Brooklyn.
1906---Marion Talley (singer: Ry-Krisp Presents Marion Talley), Nevada, Missouri.
1907---Al Rinker (singer, with the Rhythm Boys: Paul Whiteman Presents), Tekoa, Washington.
1918---Audrey Totter (actress: Meet Millie; Bright Horizon), Joliet, Illinois.
1923---Charita Bauer (actress: The Aldrich Family; The Guiding Light), Newark.
1931---Mala Powers (actress: Stars Over Hollywood), San Francisco.


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