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


Death, as it must to all, came this year to several who left one or another imprint upon old-time radio.

BOB LeMOND, 6 JANUARY---Announcer remembered best, perhaps, for announcing the CBS comedies My Favourite Husband, Our Miss Brooks, My Friend Irma, and Life With Luigi. In 1998, LeMond and surviving My Favourite Husband cast and crew held a reunion in which LeMond reprised his old job---including one of the studio audience warmups he did before each week's performance---for pediatric AIDS research. 94; complications from dementia.

RICHARD WIDMARK, 24 MARCH---Forged a successful radio acting career (Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, Front Page Farrell; Gangbusters; The Inner Sanctum Mysteries; Joyce Jordan, M.D.; Molle Mystery Theater; Suspense; Ethel & Albert) before forging an even more successful film career playing heavies and returning prodigally to radio, performing on The CBS Radio Mystery Theater and hosting the "Adventure" night of Sears Radio Theater. 93; long illness.

JUNE TRAVIS, 14 APRIL (b. June Dorothea Grabiner)---This daughter of a Chicago White Sox executive became known as the Queen of the B-Movies at Warner Brothers in the 1930s, and often appeared on Lux Radio Theater. She once prepared for a film role as an aviatrix by taking flying, jumping, and navigation lessons from Amelia Earhart. 93; unknown.

LYNNE COOPER HARVEY, 3 MAY---Produced legendary husband Paul Harvey's equally legendary The Rest of the Story radio segments. Inducted to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997. 92; leukemia.

ROBERT LEWIS SHAYON, 28 JUNE---CBS News producer and writer in the 1940s; his projects included close work with Edward R. Murrow and producing and writing for the Goodman Ace-created history-drama CBS Was There, which became You Are There on television. Best known, perhaps, for "The Eagle's Brood," a 1947 entry for the radio news program Between the Ears that highlighted plights in American slums and prisons and pre-empted an installment of the respected Information, Please. 95; pneumonia.

EDDY ARNOLD (THE TENNESSEE PLOWBOY), 8 MAY---Temperate, mellifluous country singer (his nickname referred to his hardscrabble boyhood---he lost both his father and the family farm during the Great Depression) who became a star on Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1948, and enjoyed a long career as a country star. His 1955 recording of "The Richest Man in the World," with strings conducted by Hugo Winterhalter, is credited (or blamed, depending) with inventing the string-oriented style that came to be known, not always in praise, as countrypolitan, a style that dominated Nashville over the next decade and a half and that became Arnold's dominant style for much of the rest of his career. 89; complications following a hip injury, two months after his wife, Sally.

TONY MELODY, 26 JUNE---In the final years of old-time radio, British division, he starred in The Cltheroe Kid and The Straw Hat Club before moving on to television and a familiar presence in long-running British comedies and soaps. 85; unknown.

JO STAFFORD, 16 JULY---Numerous radio appearances with Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra as one of the Pied Pipers ("I'll Never Smile Again"); eventual host of The Chesterfield Supper Club from 1944; had pop hits solo with "You Belong to Me" (her biggest seller) and "Shrimp Boats," and in duets with Gordon MacRae and Frankie Laine, then enjoying a distinguished recording career as a pop standards interpreter before her retirement in 1975. With her second husband, Paul Weston, Stafford hatched a gag that became a sensation---musical parodies in which they performed under the non de plumes Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, with Stafford as the latter singing deliberately off-key---and planted the seeds for such hit work by Allan Sherman and Weird Al Yankovic. 90; congestive heart failure.

LARRY HAINES, 17 JULY---Actor on CBS's Gangbusters in the 1930s and, as a sort-of homecoming, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater in the 1970s. In between, he became famous as Stuart Bergman on the network's television soap Search for Tomorrow, joining upon its eleventh episode and staying for the rest of the soap's life, following which he had roles on the NBC soap Another World and the ABC soap Loving. 89; unknown.

GEORGE PUTNAM, 12 SEPTEMBER---Began in radio in Minneapolis and Los Angeles before becoming one of southern California's most distinguished and controversial television news anchor/reporter/commentators for over four decades. (Ted Knight once said he patterned his Ted Baxter character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in part on Putnam.) Late life work included a syndicated talk radio show in which his primary focus, over his final decade on the air, became illegal immigration. 94; heart failure.

CONNIE HAINES, 22 SEPTEMBER (b. Yvonne Marie Antoinette JaMais)---Big band singer who specialised in upbeat songs; a radio regular since age 9 (known then as Baby Yvonne Marie, the Little Princess of the Air), her later radio credits include The Abbott & Costello Show (she was a regular on that show for several years). Changed her name when Harry James hired her following her win on Major Bowes's Original Amateur Hour. 87; myasthenia gravis.

AL GALLODORO, 4 OCTOBER---Jazz saxophoniast/clarinetist/bass clarinetist; numerous radio remotes with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra; member of the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini after the original Whiteman orchestra disbanded in 1940; best remembered for the famous opening clarinet glissando for the 1945 film Rhapsody in Blue, which he once estimated he'd played over ten thousand times in the years to come. Performed numerous saxophone solos on New York WJZ beginning in 1947 and did live radio work most of the rest of his life; he also had a brief role as a street musician in The Godfather, Part II. 95; unknown.

GIL STRATTON, 11 OCTOBER---Youthful radio actor (The Great Gildersleeve; Lux Radio Theater; My Little Margie) who later became a distinguished CBS sportscaster. 86; congestive heart failure.

JACK NARZ, 15 OCTOBER---Radio announcer (KXO Los Angeles) who became a familiar television game-show announcer and host in the 1950s and 1960s after dodging the quiz show scandal (his first television hosting gig, the instantly-popular Dotto, was found to be rigged; Narz himself was deemed innocent after passing a polygraph, but Dotto's cancellation finally kicked off the long-enough-festering scandal in earnest in 1959), hosting such television games as Top Dollar, Seven Keys, an unlikely but popular revival of Beat the Clock in the 1970s, and a revamped Concentration in the same decade. Brother of fellow game show host Tom Kennedy (born Jim Narz); one-time brother-in-law of game show legend Bill Cullen. 85; complications from strokes.

NORM MARSHALL, 5 NOVEMBER---Canadian broadcaster; teamed with Larry O'Brien for the first-ever radio broadcast of a Grey Cup football game, on Toronto CBLT. 89; unknown.

IRVING BRECHER, 17 NOVEMBER---Screenwriter (and the only such known to have received sole writing credit for any Marx Brothers film, receiving it for At the Circus and Go West) and creator-producer-writer for radio comedy The Life of Riley. His other radio credits included writing for Good News of 1938; The Old Gold Show (Al Jolson); The Gillette Original Community Sing (Milton Berle); and, briefly, The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny. On screen, he worked uncredited on The Wizard of Oz; but he received full credit (and an Academy Award nomination) for Meet Me in St. Louis. Other screenwriting credits: Shadow of the Thin Man; Ziegfeld Follies; Bye, Bye, Birdie. 94; heart attack.

BILL DRAKE, 29 NOVEMBER---Credited with perfecting (with partner Gene Chenault) the Top 40 radio format born in the late 1950s; later, the partners created a legendary package of stylised radio jingles with the Johnny Mann Singers. 71; lung cancer.

VAN JOHNSON, 12 DECEMBER (b. Charles Van Johnson)---Played significant roles on Lux Radio Theater and Suspense; guested on Tallulah Bankhead's legendary The Big Show. 92; natural causes.

PAGE CAVANAUGH, 19 DECEMBER---Los Angeles-born jazz pianist whose Page Cavanaugh Trio (with Al Viola, guitar; and, Lloyd Pratt, bass), modeled after Nat (King) Cole's King Cole Trio, appeared frequently on Songs By Sinatra and The Jack Paar Show in the 1940s. Their biggest hits were probably their versions of "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and "All of Me." 86; kidney failure.

EARTHA KITT, 25 DECEMBER (b. Eartha Mae Keith)---Steamy singer-actress who appeared on several radio variety programs including The Big Show. Later thought to have been blacklisted unofficially but no less profoundly in the United States, after she criticised the Vietnam War to then-First Lady Lady Bird Johnson's face; she continued her career overseas before enjoying an American revival of sorts, including annual New York cabaret stands. And, yes, "Santa, Baby" remains a ribald Christmas classic. 81; colon cancer.

Cherish them all, great and small.


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