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 22, 2008

Santa on Strike? The Way It Was, 22 December

Precious enough are any surviving Christmastime or Christmas-themed installments of any Fred Allen program, considering how few of them have survived among the truckload of surviving Allen shows. Precious more: Guest Jack Benny, with Allen performing live from Hollywood while in town to make a film, and the pair swapping rapiers in the slot where Allen would normally begin the show in earnest.

JACK BENNY: Jello again, this--—
FRED ALLEN: Go away.
BENNY: --—is Jack Benny talking.
ALLEN: Go away. Go away, boy.
BENNY: Oh, all right, gee, right away y—--
ALLEN: Get away from this microphone here.(Pause.) Good evening. We must get a weather strip put on this floor.

Meanwhile, the Mighty Allen Art Players perform Allen's classic routine about weary Santa finally throwing in the towel and going on a sit-down strike---preceded by a cleverly low-key "Town Hall News" zap against the cold spell of the day, an interview with a Warner Brothers backlot lunch cart operator, a jivey musical number about a riveter, a segment with Radio Guide photographer Eugene Lester, a segment with second bananette Portland Hoffa, and a few more break-ins from Benny. (“I didn’t expect to get paid for this, I haven’t any more right to take money for working on this program than you have.”)

The Mighty Allen Art Players: John Brown, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, Walter Tetley, Harry Von Zell. Announcer: Harry Von Zell. Music: Peter van Steeden Orchestra. Writers: Fred Allen, Arnold Auerbach, Herman Wouk. (Yes, children---that Herman Wouk.)


THE EDDIE CANTOR SHOW: CHRISTMAS PROGRAM (CBS, 1935)---Eddie (Cantor) gets lassoed into helping a woman plug a leak; a little runaway boy tries to adopt him; and, he ponders a new car. Parkyakarkus: Harry Einstein. Annoucer: Jimmy Wallington. Music: Louis Glass Orchestra. Writers: Possibly David Freedman, Carrol Carroll, Philip Rapp.

THE BURNS & ALLEN SHOW: : SANTA AND THE WICKED PIRATE (CBS, 1942)---Two days before Christmas, while trimming the tree, Gracie fears her favourite duck, Herman, is missing---but when he turns up safe and sound, the duck just might quack up listening to Gracie telling him a Christmas story. Additional cast: Elvia Allman, Jimmy Cash, Lawrence Nash. Announcer: Bill Goodwin. Music: Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. Writers: Paul Henning, Keith Fowler, George Burns.

DUFFY'S TAVERN: MIRACLE IN MANHATTAN (NBC, 1948)---One measly egg nog atop some bad nutmeg, and one snide Christmas card from his boss, put Archie in a slightly sour mood . . . until guest Jeff Chandler tries to convince the cynical barkeep ("There's two kinds of guys go to church---them that doesn't, and them that don't") a spell in church might lift his spirit---leading Archie to an unexpected moment of true faith and a miracle before his weary eyes. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Writers: Ed Gardner, Vinnie Bogert, Robert Schiller.

ROCKY FORTUNE: THE PLOT TO MURDER SANTA CLAUS (NBC, 1953)---Assigned to work as a department store detective, Rocky (Frank Sinatra) lands smack into the middle of trouble intended for the store's Santa. Additional cast: Ted Borneo, Mary McGovern, Kay Stewart, Frank Bristol, Barney Phillips. Writer: George Lefferts.

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: THE CHRISTMAS ECONOMY (CBS, 1959)---Shoving out of bed early under threat of a bucket of cold water is the least of their problems compared to trying to live up to their vow to cut down on frivolous Christmas spending. The Couple: Peg Lynch, Alan Bunce. Aunt Effie: Margaret Hamilton. Writer: Peg Lynch.


1885---Deems Taylor (commentator: Deems Taylor Music Series; The Prudential Family Hour; The RCA Victor Show; Information, Please), New York City.
1901---Andre Kostelanetz (conductor: The Chesterfield Hour; Light-Up Time; The Pause That Refreshes), St. Petersburg, Russia.
1907---Dame Peggy Ashcroft (actress: Queen Victoria), London.
1911---Bob Guilbert (actor: Don Winslow of the Navy), Wisconsin.
1917---Gene Rayburn (comedian/host: Rayburn and Finch), Christopher, Illinois.
1918---Frankie Darrow (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Chicago.
1921---Hawkshaw Hawkins (singer: Country Style USA; Country Music Time), Huntingdon, West Virginia.


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