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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It Started Here---We Think: The Way It Was, 29 December

1945---It will rank in due course as Number 99, on the invaluable Elizabeth McLeod's ranking of the one hundred old-time radio moments of the 20th Century. "It," in this case, is the launch of home audience participation media, by Truth or Consequences host Ralph Edwards, when he introduces the mystery voice known as Mr. Hush to his studio audience and his listeners and challenges them to guess that voice.

Among those who will be the mystery voices will be former world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, silent screen legend Clara Bow (as Mrs. Hush, of course), and (as Miss Hush) dance pioneer Martha Graham.

As a matter of fact, Time---in "So They Took the $17,000 (May 1948)---will describe the happy recaps of the three Truth or Consequences listeners who guessed the three Hushes aforesaid.

◙ Mrs. William H. McCormick of Lock Haven, Pa. has taken up public life since winning the $17,590 Mrs. Hush (Clara Bow) contest. "A lot of civic groups asked me to make speeches. I ran for the school board and made it. If I hadn't won the contest the town never would have put a woman on the school board." At first Mrs. McCormick was a cynosure: "People arrived from hundreds of miles around, just to look at me. They made pilgrimages . . . If I didn't come to the door, they peered in the windows."

◙ Richard Bartholomew, 25, who identified Mr. Hush (Jack Dempsey), got "an awful lot of letters, from people wanting me to do favors for them. A couple of women actually proposed . . . Lots of girls wrote in for a pair of nylons." But Bartholomew gave his nylons to his mother and his girl friend, distributed most of his prizes to his family. Then he went back to the University of Michigan, where he is working for a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Last summer he got married, took a free honeymoon trip to Banff. "It was very beautiful, even more so than we'd expected. I guess it was the gift I appreciated most. It was the one we got the most use out of."

◙ Mrs. Ruth Annette Subbie, of Fort Worth, who guessed Miss Hush (Martha Graham), has sold six of her 21 prizes, but she wrote an "enthusiastic letter" to every manufacturer who donated something. She exchanged the $1,500 beaver coat for three $500 coats—and gave each of her two daughters one. Her home has been transformed by the Venetian blinds, Bendix home laundry, Tappan range and television set. She has since won two $10 radio prizes and a radio console. But she is no professional, she insists; it's just her hobby.

Your chronicler hopes that Lock Haven, Pennsylvania schools had nothing but benefit from Mrs. McCormick's Hush-inspired tenure, that the Richard Bartholomews (assuming they are still alive) have enjoyed a long and happy marriage and life together; and, that Mrs. Subbie's daughters have been as wonderful to her as was she to they.


1891: EDISON'S TRANSMISSION---It may or may not become the most immediately identifiable patent with his name on it, but today Thomas Edison receives a patent for electric transmission of signals---also known as radio transmission---developed by himself and his famous Menlo Park team of inventors and researchers.

1980: THERE'S LESS FOR YOUR RADIO LIFE THROUGH SEARS---Another late attempt to revive the spirit, if not necessarily the letter, of old-time radio begins to die: what remains of the Mutual Broadcasting System cancels the nightly Mutual Radio Theater, following a very short season after the network buys it from CBS, on which it was known as Sears Radio Theater.

You could almost have called it The Mickey Mouse Radio Theater, considering how the series was designated rather like the ancient Mickey Mouse Club on television, more or less: Monday night was "Western Night" (hosted by former Bonanza star Lorne Greene); Tuesday, "Comedy Night" (host: Andy Griffith); Wednesday, "Mystery Night" (host: Vincent Price); Thursday, "Love and Hate Night" (host: Cicely Tyson); and, Friday, "Adventure Night" (host: Richard Widmark, then Howard Duff).

But you couldn't say they didn't try . . .


THE AMOS 'N' ANDY SHOW: NOT INVITED TO THE PARTY (NBC, 1944)---The party would be a New Year's Eve party, the host would be a Harlem society patron whose daughter Andy (Charles Correll) dated "once or twice," and Andy only thinks he's the only one among the usual gang who's been invited. Miss Blue: Madaline Lee. Amos: Freeman Gosden. Shorty: Lou Lubin. Ruby: Elinor Harriot. Arbadella: Terry Howard. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll, Joe Connolly, Bob Mosher.

QUIET, PLEASE: RAIN ON NEW YEAR'S EVE (MUTUAL, 1947)---Asked to create a second monster for his film script, a deadline-crunching screenwriter (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) imagines---fatefully---what it must be like to be such a monster . . . who only has his powers for the year's final hour. Mary Lou: Muriel Kirkland. Dody: J. Pat O'Malley. Music: Albert Buhrmann. Writer: Wyllis Cooper.

FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: EXCHANGING GIFTS AT THE BON TON (NBC, 1953)---It's hard enough for most mortals but a genuine chore for the McGees (Jim and Marian Jordan), when they need to exchange a slightly impractical Christmas gift from Doc (Arthur Q. Bryan). The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Mrs. Timsdale: Jody Collins. Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.

BOB & RAY PRESENT THE CBS RADIO NETWORK: CHARLIE CHU, ORIENTAL SLEUTH (NO PEEKING, 1959)---Much like Fred Allen with his longtime "One Long Pan" sketches, those two zany characters of many characters couldn't resist satirising---albeit a little more gently---Charlie Chan in all his guises, sending their satirical gumshoe and his number one boy to solve the Case of the Ugly Entry. Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1892---Emory Parnell (actor: The Grouch Club; The Eddie Bracken Show; Lux Radio Theater), St. Paul.
1894---Harry Lang (actor: Blondie & Dagwood; The Cisco Kid), New York City.
1898---Jules Bledsoe (baritone: Amalgamated Broadcasting System Inaugural Program), unknown; Pat Padgett (comedian: Show Boat; Model Minstrels), Atlanta.
1904---Wendell Niles (announcer: The Burns & Allen Show; The Chase & Sanborn Hour; The Bob Hope Show; A Man Called X; Hollywood Star Playhouse), Twin Valley, Minnesota.
1920---Viveca Lindfors (as Elsa Viveca Torstensdotter Lindfors; actress: U.S. Steel Hour), Uppsala, Sweden.


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