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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let Auld Acquaintance Be Unforgot: The Way It Was, 31 December

Another year is on the way out. And, once again, you needn't imprison yourself with television's customary bill of unfare this New Year's Eve. You needn't even imprison yourself in the clink tonight, should you run afoul of the sobriety checkpoints. All you have to do, on my (hopefully) annual invitation, is round up your party, stay inside, break out the booze, crank up the computer speakers to turn them into the old Philco, for a few rounds of auld lang syne as they did it on old-time radio.

You needn't even do it for any reason beyond the sake of plain good entertainment. Remember---Seeking nostalgia? Move along, nothing (much) to see here. Seeking art? (I leave it to you whether highbrow or Lowenbrau.) You've come to the right party. So, in the immortal words of a certain former M*A*S*H commander, here's to the new year and may she be a damn sight better than the old one.

And may we never neglect the majesty bequeathed us from the art of classic radio.


VARIOUS ARTISTS: NEW YEAR'S RADIO DANCING PARTY (ARMED FORCES RADIO SERVICE, 1945)---With some of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, live from their various New Year's Eve hotel/ballroom engagements, American servicemen still stationed around the world in the aftermath of World War II are the privileged few and the privileged proud to be in on this remarkable hour's music.

The highlights: Harry James (the broadcast’s leadoff hitter), with an exuberant "Sad Sack"; Count Basie, with a ripping "One O’Clock Jump"; Louis Armstrong with a bristling "Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive"; Jimmy Dorsey with a version of "I Got Rhythm" that he and his troops play at 78 rpm speed, or so it feels; Artie Shaw, with guest trumpeter Roy Eldridge in a shivery "Little Jazz"; the irrepressible Stan Kenton, with his customarily rousing "Tampico," featuring his near-signature vocalist June Christy; Benny Goodman, and a snappy "Gotta Be This or That"; and, Duke Ellington, with his rarity "Let The Zoomers Zoom," a number he may never have released, assuming he and his men recorded it at all.

Those are the mere highlights of the show, with Ellington fans perking up in particular when high-note trumpet specialist Cat Anderson boots it home with his usual style; and, Guy Lombardo auld langing his customary syne to seal the proverbial deal.

Also featuring: Freddy Martin, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Henry King, Carmen Cavallaro, and Louis Prima.


THE JELL-O PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY: WHAT ARE YA DOIN' NEW YEAR'S EVE? (NBC, 1939)---Jack (Benny) marvels over his gift calendars; Phil (Harris) is astonished that Jack didn't get a gift calendar of him and his band; Mary (Livingstone) needles Jack about the calendar from his life insurance company and his Christmas gift to her; and, the troupe ponders each other's New Year's Eve plans---until Jack's date leaves him in the lurch. Guest: Andy Devine. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, possibly George Balzar, possibly Sam Perrin.

FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: FIBBER FINDS A GOLD WATCH (NBC, 1940)---And, advertises for its owner, though it was tempting to McGee (Jim Jordan) to think this was one time finders/keepers should have applied, all things considered. Molly: Marian Jordan. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. The Old Timer: Bill Thompson. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Writer: Don Quinn.

THE CHARLIE McCARTHY SHOW: NEW YEAR'S EVE PLAY (NBC, 1944)---You can argue a little with Effie Klinker singing "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week" on an otherwise festive night, but you can't really argue with Charles Loughlin making Edgar's (Bergen) New Year's Eve party a night---and a play---to, well, let's just say you won't necessarily forget, if Edgar playing Father Time and Charlie playing the usual have anything to say about it. With Don Ameche. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Ray Noble Orchestra. Writers: Possibly Roland MacLane, Joe Connolly, Bob Mosher.

THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE: NEW YEAR'S EVE (NBC, 1944)---Well, it's actually the day before, and our hero (Harold Peary) lets Marjorie (Lurene Tuttle) and Leroy (Walter Tetley) talk him into ice skating, which only begins the chill Hooker (Earle Ross) puts into him by roping him into a mock trial putting the year about to end into the docket. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.

LUX RADIO THEATER: PRIDE OF THE MARINES (CBS, 1945)---John Garfield re-creates his film role as blinded-in-battle (at Guadalcanal) Marine Sgt. Al Schmid, who rehabilitates back home with the aid of the wife (Eleanor Parker, also re-creating her film role) who married him in spite of his tries at breaking their engagement because he feared himself less a man. Additional cast: Dane Clark. Adapted from the screenplay by Marvin Borowsky.

MATINEE WITH BOB & RAY: NEW YEAR'S EVE DAY (WHDH, BOSTON, 1949)---Recalling choice high, middle, low, and off-chart lights of the year about to end, not to mention a little problem trying to spell "juxtaposition." Writers, such as they were: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.

THE BIG SHOW: ONCE MORE WITH LITTLE MARGARET (NBC, 1950)---Margaret O'Brien returns following her charming Christmas appearance a week earlier; Dame Tallulah's usual bitchcraft includes Gloria Swanson; Sam Levine plays in a smartly-compressed scene from Guys and Dolls; Jose Ferrer joins Swanson for a torrid scene from the revival of 1931's Twentieth Century (Ben Hecht); and, a rousing finale medleys the year's signature Broadway song hits. Additional cast: Vivian Blaine, Ken Murray. Music: Meredith Willson and the Big Show Orchestra and Chorus. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writers: Goodman Ace, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1897---Paula Hemminghous (singer: The Philco Hour; The National Radio Pulpit; Highlights of the Bible), Columbus, Ohio.
1904---Nathan Milstein (violinist, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra), Odessa, Ukraine.
1908---Jonah Jones (trumpeter: Eddie Condon's Jazz Concert; Army Bandstand; Manhattan Melodies), Louisville.
1910---Richard Kollmar (co-host: The Dorothy and Dick Show; actor: John's Other Wife; Big Sister; Boston Blackie), Ridgewood, New Jersey.
1914---Pat Brady (comedian: The Roy Rogers Show), Toledo, Ohio.
1921---Rex Allen (singer: Country Music Time; Country Hoedown), Wilcox, Arizona.


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