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, March 17, 2008

The Echo of Unforgotten Laughter: The Way It Was, 17 March

NOTE:---I ran this piece a year ago, noting the sorrow the holiday provides old-time radio fans because of the death of one of its absolute masters of caustic laughter. Here it is again, and may the laughter never be forgotten.---JK.

1956---Taking one of his regular midnight walks outside his New York City home, Fred Allen---perhaps the most pungent satirist of old-time radio and any time---collapses and dies of a heart attack, following years of hypertension that actually forced him off the air twice during his singular radio career.

Whether or not he knows it, the successful comedian is on a treadmill to oblivion. When a radio comedian’s program is finally finished, he slinks down memory lane into the limbo of yesterday’s happy hours. All that the comedian has to show for his years of work and aggravation is the echo of forgotten laughter, and some receipts from the Treasury Department.

---Fred Allen, from Treadmill to Oblivion. (Boston: Atlantic Little, Brown, 1954.)

The death of Fred Allen . . . brings to mind Hazlitt's elegaic paragraph on the Restoration actors:

"Authors after their deaths live in their works; players only in their epitaphs and the breath of common traditions. They die and leave the world no copy . . . In a few years, nothing is known of them but that they were.

Fred Allen was an eminent comic actor. But without a doubt his great contribution to life in America came in the marvellous eighteen-year run of weekly satiric inventino which was the Fred Allen show on radio. His was the glory of being an original personality creating new forms of intelligent entertainment. He was without peer and without a successful imitator . . .

. . . In Fred Allen, the voice of sanity spoke out for all Americans to hear, during a trying period of our history, in the classic and penetrating tones of comic satire. Because he lived and wrote and acted here, this land will always be a saner place to live in. That fact is his true monument.

---Herman Wouk, prize-winning and best-selling novelist, and one-time staff writer for Fred Allen's radio programs, in The New York Times, 18 March 1956.

How little either Fred Allen or his longtime friend and former writer know of just how much of Mr. Allen's radio work will survive and endure for listeners not even alive before Fred Allen was stricken mortally.

How unfair it seems that this man, who suffered few fools gladly but made millions of them laugh astride the wise men, should be stricken fatally on a holiday renowned for jollity. Thus your chronicler prefers to believe he went merely from this island earth to an Eternal estate, where He who presides doesn't mind busting more than a periodic gut, turning St. Patrick's Day 2007 over to Fred Allen singularly.


1937---It only begins with the news of the week pondering how deeply hay fever sufferers are suffering now that native vegetation is replaced in some places by alien vegetation.

It continues with Portland (Hoffa) revealing her papa wants the host to make up his mind what night he wants to be on radio, following his infamous Pierre Hotel skirmish with Jack Benny the prior Sunday. ("I saw the man upstairs brushing his teeth with Jell-O this morning," says Portland. "Just as long as they don't try to buy Ipana in six delicious flavours," rejoins the master.)

The Mighty Allen Art Players perform a hillbilly drama.

And, guests include Irish tenor Adrian O'Brien, the Doherty Sisters, Martin Byrnes and his Irish Band, and the Boston Amateurs, not to mention a return engagement by the previous week's holdover, Professor Quigley, an escape artist who didn't get the full three minutes he needed to escape from a packing case because he dropped his glasses---and wants to repeat the stunt tonight.

Thus St. Patrick's Day on tonight's edition of Town Hall Tonight. (NBC.) Cast: John Brown, Charles Cantor, Minerva Pious, Walter Tetley, Harry Von Zell. Writers: Fred Allen, Harry Tugend. Music: Peter van Steeden.

The laughter will echo unforgotten. The treadmill was really one to immortality.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

They Just Had To Do This: The Way It Was, 15 March

1937: DESIRE---Marlene Dietrich and Herbert Marshall absolutely had to do this old-time radio broadcast---enough so that they actually pushed the start of shooting a film back a day in order to perform on the program.

Automobile engineer Tom Bradley (Marshall, recreating Gary Cooper's film role) is used to smuggle the jewels stolen by a thief (Dietrich, reprising her film role) with whom he can't help falling in love, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Otto Krueger, Zeffie Tillbury. Adapted from the screenplay by Edwin J. Mayer, Waldemar Young, and Samuel Hoffenstein, based on the play by Hans Szekely and R.A. Stemmle. Host/producer: Cecil B. DeMille.


1922: THE SOUTH GOES CHIME TIME---Today the South hits the air for the first time, so far as is known, when Atlanta's WSB signs on formally. It realises the dream of Atlanta Journal publisher John S. Cohen, who was convinced by former Navy wireless operator Walter Tison to build a commercial station and ordered equipment post haste---all aimed at beating the rival Atlanta Constitution to the on-the-air punch among Atlanta newspapers.

Just over a week later, country musician Fiddlin John Carson is believed to be the first musician to perform live on WSB. The station will seem to make a specialty of country, gospel, and (ahem) "serious" music in its first decade.

It will also seem to lay claim to originating perhaps the most famous identification tones in radio history. A pair of twin sisters, Nell and Kate Pendley, appear at the station with a set of dinner chimes to sign off each WSB program: the first three notes of "Over There." There will be those radio lovers, in due course, who will swear the Pendley tones at least inspired a certain three-note chime, soon enough, to become immortal as the calling card of a certain national radio network* to which WSB just so happens to be affiliated . . .

The original Pendley Twins four-block dinner chime and its mallet, by the way, will remain on display in the WSB studios, after their final use, into the 21st Century.


1942: TEN BEST DRESSED---To which list Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) aspires after he's picked to compete with nine other men for Summerfield's representative in a Ten Best Dressed in America competition, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

Leroy: Walter Tetley. Hooker: Earle Ross. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Peavey: Richard Legrand. Writers: Sam Moore, John Whedon.

1947: ADVICE TO THE LOVELORN COLUMN---Riley (William Bendix) throws Babs' (Sharon Douglas) boyfriend Simon out of the house---again; Peg (Paula Winslowe) argues that he's wrong and overreacting---as usual; and, a frustrated Riley seeks helpful advice from a newspaper advice columnist (what a revoltin' development that is), on tonight's edition of The Life of Riley. (NBC.)

Junior: Scotty Beckett. Digger: John Brown. Writers: Irving Breecher, Alan Lipscott.


1877---Montague Love (actor: Screen Guild Theatre, Suspense), Portsmouth, U.K.
1904---George Brent (actor: Leave It to the Girls, Lux Radio Theater; moderator: Doctor Fights), Dublin; J. Pat O'Malley (actor: Cavalcade of America, Lux Radio Theater), Lancastershire, U.K.
1910---Nick Stewart (actor: Hollywood Newsreel of the Air), New York City.
1913---Macdonald Carey (actor: Just Plain Bill, Woman in White), Sioux City, Iowa.
1915---David Schoenbrun (reporter/commentator: CBS World News Tonight, CBS News Paris), New York City.
1916---Harry James (trumpeter, Benny Goodman Orchestra: Let's Dance; bandleader: Spotlight Bands, Call for Music, The Danny Kaye Show), Albany, Georgia.
1917---Carl Smith (singer: Grand Ole Opry), Maynardville, Tennessee.
1919---Lawrence Tierney (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Brooklyn.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"It Could Be . . . It Might Be . . . It Is! ": The Way It Was, 14 March

1919---Madre and Padre Carabina have no clue that the son who has just arrived, Harry Christopher Carabina, is destined to become one of baseball's most beloved broadcasters---for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Oakland Athletics, the Chicago White Sox, and (especially) the Chicago Cubs---in old-time radio and forward to television . . . under the Anglicised Harry Caray.

Though he will achieve broad appeal during his tenure with the Cardinals (whose KMOX broadcasts helped build the team into a full Midwest force because of the station's range and Caray's earthy style), Caray will become a national and even international phenomenon when he lands with the Cubs, and the Cubs' owners (the Tribune Company, who buy the team from the Wrigley family) turn their local/regional television anchorage into a nationwide cable television superstation.

Caray's shameless homerism (more for the home fans than the team), his seventh-inning stretch singing (an accident that began when the White Sox flipped his mike on after he was seen singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the booth; he'd originally rejected the idea of doing it on mike), his catch phrases ("Holy Cow!"; "It could be . . . it might be . . . ," a phrase he used calling potential home runs and, at the end of the ninth, team wins), his periodic habit of calling a game shirtless from the bleachers, and his endearing malaprops (he often confused player names, such as "Ryne Sundberg" or "Jim Sandberg," and he frequently botched the lyrics of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"), will make him a kind of national grandfather until the day he dies following a Valentine's Day collapse in 1998.

He would be allowed to skirt WGN's then-mandatory retirement age because of his phenomenal popularity.

Caray's career will not be without its controversy, however, from speculation that he wielded powerful enough influence on Cardinals' player and personnel decisions (including the 1964 firing of their legendary general manager, Bing Devine, who built the team's 1960s contenders, several player transactions, and a reputed maneuver to bring aboard former Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants manager Leo Durocher as manager if incumbent Johnny Keane was to be fired, also in 1964) to speculation that his unexpected firing as the Cardinals' lead broadcaster sprang from an affair he was reputed to have had with a daughter-in-law of the team's owner. (Caray, for his part, neither confirmed or denied the rumour.)

When he returns to the Cubs' booth following convalescence from a mild stroke, Caray will enjoy a poignant moment as he shares the booth with a one-time broadcaster who transcribed Cub games on Iowa WHO by forging a play-by-play off telegraph reports---President Ronald Reagan, who cracks, "You know, in a few months I'm going to be out of work, and I thought I might as well audition." (Reagan, in fact, will do an inning and a half of actual play by play on the broadcast.)

Caray will be elected to the broadcaster's wing of the baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, and to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.


1937: IT AIN'T LOUIS V. SCHMELING, KIDDIES---It's a purported climax to old-time radio's most successful and famous verbal running gag*, launched inadvertently when one of the combatants wisecracked about the other after an eight-year-old violin prodigy performed a breathless interpretation of "The Bee."

Tonight, the Grand Ballroom of New York's Hotel Pierre hosts the climactic rumble, allegedly, on The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Climax, schmimax.

The famous feud will continue on and off for another decade at minimum, and sometimes beyond. Never mind that the two master comedians were actually good friends in real life; and, that a) writers from each man's staff consulted on each installment of the feud; or, b) when either guested on the other's show the guest combatant often as not got the better laugh lines, right up to the end . . .

(In fairness: Fred Allen will have a kind of advantage in due course---when his show joins Jack Benny's on the Sunday night lineup, Benny's show will precede Allen's show . . . and Allen or a staffer would be listening, allowing a fresh crack or two's insertion into the script about to be performed on the air, either pre-written or by way of one of Allen's deadly ad-libs.)

Of course, one man's end may be another man's beginning, as Fred Allen will prove on the premiere edition of The Big Show, (also NBC), when he reworks a sketch from one of his earlier classic editions, a Benny parody he called "The Pinch Penny Program."

The sidebar to the Allen-Benny feud: The child prodigy who launched the whole thing in the first place, Stuart Canin (when he played on Fred Allen's Town Hall Tonight, Allen couldn't resist a wisenheimer remark about a certain violin player who ought to have been ashamed of himself), received an unexpected gift: Both Allen and Jack Benny will pony up the starting financing for his eventual musical education.

The long-term picture: New York-born Stuart Canin will study at Juilliard School of Music, win the International Paganini Competition and the Handel Medal, and become a respected violin virtuoso and, in due course, concertmaster for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Hollywood studio orchestras (his performances in film music will include Forrest Gump and Schindler's List), while also founding the New Century Chamber Orchestra in 1992 and serving as its first music director until 1999.

Meanwhile, otherwise on tonight's show, Jack and Mary (Livingstone) get a wire from Kenny Baker advising how much Hollywood's changed---then realise he didn't send it from Hollywood; Jack learns at least one secret of how tough men make a sweet-swinging orchestra; Jack and Mary ponder their income tax filings; an elder singer seeks an audition; and, Mary and Jack sing instead. (Guess which one's merely passably amatuerish.) Then comes an, ahem, interruption to Jack's singing turn . . . and, in due course, a duet even more off key than Mary and Jack's, but you'll have to listen for yourself.

Additional cast: Don Wilson. Music: Abe Lyman and His Orchestra.

* - By far, the most successful and famous aural running gag in classic radio history has to be Fibber McGee's infamous clattering closet . . . with, perhaps, Jack Benny's subterranean vault alarm a close enough second.


1946: NO MORE ALICE---Haunted by his failing marriage as it is, troubled psychiatrist Warren Rice (Paul Henreid) lets an escaped bank robber/killer commandeer him while driving through the mountains . . . and hide in his own home, where the escapee can't understand Dr. Rice's interest in analysing him, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Martin Ryerson. Director: William Spear.

1951: INCOME TAX---Alas, 'tis that time of year, and naturally Harold (Peary) doesn't want to be late even if he's doing it on the final day. Which is more than Doc Yak-Yak (Joseph Kearns) can say, on tonight's edition of The Harold Peary Show. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Gloria Holiday (in real life, Mrs. Harold Peary), Parley Baer, Jane Morgan, Mary Jane Croft. Writers: Bill Danch, Jack Robinson, Gene Stone.


1912---Les Brown (bandleader: Fitch Bandwagon, The Bob Hope Show), Reinerton, Pennsylvania.
1918---Dennis Patrick (actor: Shakespeare Festival), Philadelphia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swinging and Swaying: The Way It Was, 13 March

1910---Well, he doesn't necessarily swing or sway when he is born today in Lakewood, Ohio, but Samuel Zarnocay, Jr. will take up the saxophone and clarinet in due course and lead one of the most popular big bands of the old-time radio era.

As Sammy Kaye, he will lead one of the "sweet" bands (such as those led by Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, Carmen Cavallaro, and Freddy Martin) of the 1930s and 1940s. He will become one of the bands featured on old-time radio's Chesterfield Supper Club, but he will become known best for Sunday Serenade and So You Want to Lead a Big Band?---the latter a program in which members of the audience got a chance to conduct the Kaye orchestra.

The "Swing and Sway" tag line, incidentally, would be born during an early stand at Cleveland's Cabin Club, where the Kaye band performances were broadcast on regional radio. The show's announcer would try numerous rhythmic tags to introduce the band, until he came up with "Let's swing and sway with Sammy Kaye" . . . and a fan subsequently came to an evening's stand hollering, "Hi, Swing and Sway!" to Kaye. The tag would stick . . . and become one of the best known slogans of the big band years.

Kaye will retire in 1986, a year before his death, passing the leadership of the band to trumpeter Roger Thorpe, who will continue leading the band into the 21st Century.


1922: IT ISN'T EXACTLY WALKING INTO THE CROWDED FIREHOUSE YELLING "MOVIE!" KIDDIES---But it is about as close as you can get to one exemplary answer as to just what your friendly neighbourhood Dallas fire department might do when there are no fires to fight, if they just so happen to have radio equipment. You could call them old-time radio's original fire chiefs.

The root belongs to Dallas police and fire signal superintendent Henry Garrett, whose off-duty passion for radio tinkering leads to his bringing it to the job, convincing Dallas city fathers it might be a great way to keep Dallas's Bravest in touch in the field and between blaze and base.

It was merely an unanticipated fringe benefit that the men in red inadvertently convinced Dallas citizens on radio, period, when they began killing their non-emergency firehouse time by opening the airwaves and playing music, telling jokes, or both.

The connection gets its due today: WRR-AM hits the air formally for the first time. Within four years, the station will move from the firehouse to the fancy house, also known as the Adolphus Hotel, a year before it begins to accept and air advertising commercials. It will take residence at the Jefferson and Hilton Hotels before finding its permanent home in the late 1930s, at the state fairgrounds. It will acquire FM frequency in 1948 and broadcast AM and FM until selling the AM side in 1978.

And, it will become an anomaly among locality-owned radio stations: the tax man doesn't fund it, advertising dollars do. And WRR-FM will be the sole commercial classical music radio outlet in the entire state of Texas.


1948: JURY DUTY---More accurately, disorder in the court, when Jane (Ace) gets a jury duty summons and shiftless brother Paul (Leon Janney) turns up as a surprise witness; or, as Mr. (Goodman) Ace puts it, Jane weighed in on the scales of justice at 105, wearing purple trunks and an off-the-face hat. In the other corner, in the black robe, her very capable opponent, the judge, at 178. That's blood pressure. That's also tonight's edition of mr. ace and JANE. (CBS.)

Ken: Ken Roberts. Sally: Florence Robinson. Additional cast: Everett Sloan, Edgar Staley, Ann Summers, Frank Butler, Gavin Gordon, Michael Abbott, Jo Carol Dennis, Cliff Hall. Writer: Goodman Ace.

1949: DEATH IS A DOLL---Doris Gordon (Lurene Tuttle) draws Dan Holliday (Alan Ladd) to her Louisiana turf with a letter claiming a man she knows believes he'll be dead in five days for no evident reason . . . but one "fantastic" one, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Susie: Sylvia Picker. Additional cast: John Beal, Frank Lovejoy. Writer: Clark Wilbur.

1954: CONFEDERATE MONEY---Hard-nosed, reformed drinker Fate Ender (Harry Bartell) fires hard-drinking employee Neil Butler (Vic Perrin) publicly after a saloon incident---but after someone shoots Ender in the arm, Matt (William Conrad) and Chester (Parley Baer) have two possible killers to stop: Ender, who thinks Butler shot him in the arm from a distance; and, Butler, who knows the shooter's identity while under pressure to get Ender first, on tonight's edition of Gunsmoke. (CBS.)

Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Doc: Howard McNear. Additional cast: James Ogg, Barney Phillips. Writer: John Meston.


1873---Nellie Revell (commentator: Neighbour Nell, Meet the Artist), Springfield, Illinois.
1896---Leona Powers (actress: My Son Jeep, The Aldrich Family), Salida, Colorado.
1898---Henry Hathaway (director: Screen Director's Playhouse), Sacramento, California.
1907---Frank Wilcox (actor: Central City), DeSoto, Missouri.
1908---Paul Stewart (actor: Easy Aces, Life Can Be Beautiful, Rogue's Gallery), New York City.
1914---Bob Weiskopf (writer: The Eddie Cantor Show, Chesterfield Supper Club, The Rudy Vallee Show, The Fred Allen Show, The Bob Hope Show, and one script for Our Miss Brooks), Chicago.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"I Want to Tell You": The Way It Was, 12 March

1933---With the previous fortnight's bank crisis followed by the previous nine days' "bank holiday," after gold withdrawals from banks began to hike as high as fifteen million dollars a day,* President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduces America to his Fireside Chat series of periodic radio broadcasts.

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking---with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

Thus the inaugural Fireside Chat addresses the banking crisis and Roosevelt's plans to allow bank re-openings on a measured basis, while the President offered at least one rejoinder to critics who feared the new administration driving toward fiat money.

The success of our whole great national program depends, of course, upon the cooperation of the public---on its intelligent support and use of a reliable system. Remember that the essential accomplishment of the new legislation is that it makes it possible for banks more readily to convert their assets into cash than was the case before. More liberal provision has been made for banks to borrow on these assets at the Reserve Banks and more liberal provision has also been made for issuing currency on the security of those good assets. This currency is not fiat currency. It is issued only on adequate security---and every good bank has an abundance of such security.

If you admire President Roosevelt, as many Americans do, you believe the Fireside Chats keep you informed and that the first chat offers at least a semblance of solution against what Roosevelt denounced, in his famed inaugural address, and in language purely from the populist briefing books, as the unscrupulous moneychangers.

If you are wary of President Roosevelt, as many Americans are, you may ponder whether the Fireside Chats serve as a friendly salve aimed at gulling and lulling while a fat government paw riffled your pocket.

And you may not know that Roosevelt, inaugurated earlier this month, may have spurned a proposal by outgoing President Herbert Hoover to resolve the banking crisis with what author John T. Flynn (a former writer for The New Republic writing in his 1948 book The Roosevelt Myth) would consider more simplicity and perhaps less financial anguish than would come in due course.

Hoover had proposed a one-day bank closure, with concurrent submissions by each bank of assets and liabilities, listing live and dead assets separately, and solvent banks allowed to re-open following the single-day holiday with a government declaration of and guarantee of solvency during the bank crisis, a plan Hoover believed would stop the rash of runs on the banks. "The inactive assets," Flynn will continue, describing the Hoover plan, "would then be taken over to be liquidated in the interest of depositors."

Flynn will argue that Roosevelt ignored a 17 February 1933 letter from Hoover outlining that plan. "Had [the plan] been done," Flynn will write, "countless millions in deposits would have been saved and the banking crisis at least would have been removed from the picture. However, the Attorney General ruled that the President did not possess the power to issue such an order unless he could have the assurance of Congress that it would confirm his action by an appropriate resolution, and that this, as a matter of political necessity, would have to be approved by the new President who would take office in a month. It was some such plan as this which Hoover had in mind when he wrote Roosevelt . . .It had one defect from Roosevelt's point of view. It would not do to allow Hoover to be the instrument of stemming the banking crisis before Roosevelt could do it."

Hoover believed, Flynn will continue, that---Roosevelt having the "ultimate responsibility"---he would give any order Roosevelt approved "provided he could do so in conscience and Roosevelt could assure approval by Congress." But Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury (Ogden Mills) fell on the deaf ears of Roosevelt's candidate for the Cabinet post (William Woodin), Hoover couldn't prevail on Roosevelt to issue even a statement of reassurance, and Roosevelt brain truster Rexford Tugwell (not long in becoming an undersecretary in the Agriculture Department) sending word that the banks were about to collapse and that that was what the incoming administration might have wanted.**

It was now dawning on Hoover that he and Roosevelt were talking about two different things. Hoover was talking about saving the banks and the people's savings in them. Roosevelt was thinking about the political advantage in a complete banking disaster under Hoover. Actually, on February 25, Hoover received a message . . . that Rexford Tugwell had said the banks would collapse in a couple of days and that is what they wanted.

---John T. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth. (New York: Devin-Adair, 1948; Fox & Wilkes: 1998.)

Whether to inform or to lull and gull, and there are opinions on both sides, FDR would deliver thirty Fireside Chat broadcasts between 1933 and 1944.

* - By 19 February 1933, this was the level of daily gold withdrawals from banks. Within a fortnight, Flynn noted, "$114,000,000 of gold was taken from banks for export and another $150,000,000 was withdrawn to go into hiding. The infection of fear was everywhere. Factories were closing. Unemployment was rising rapidly. Bank closings multiplied daily."

** - According to Flynn, Mills reminded Woodin that Grover Cleveland "in a similar though less grave emergency" had issued such a "reassuring statement" eight days before his own inauguration. Interestingly enough, Rexford Tugwell in due course would write a biography of Cleveland with the subtitle, A Biography of the President Whose Uncompromising Honesty and Integrity Failed America in a Time of Crisis.

A longtime opponent of metastasising government, John T. Flynn in due course proved that it wasn't only the left to whom his analyses might prove distasteful. By the mid-1950s, the man whom The New Republic fired over his continuing critique of the New Deal would find his critics on the right as well, among those on the right who believed no return to minimal government was feasible so long as there was a Cold War to wage.


1942: VIC'S BUSINESS LUNCH; OR, THE LITTLE TINY PETITE PHEASANT FEATHER TEA SHOPPE---It begins with a cheerfully absurd scene in the family kitchen, with Rush (Bill Idelson) chattering about school gymnasium gossip, Sade (Bernadine Flynn) putting the finish on lunch, and in due course Vic (Art Van Harvey) coming home---for a clean shirt, because he's been roped into a spur-of-the-moment business lunch at the "homey" Tea Shoppe "with the hotshot bluebloods," as Sade needles knowingly, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

1950: THE BURGLAR---He's a rather polite sort (Rory McMillan) whose targets are leftovers in refrigerators, prompting tenderhearted Connie (Eve Arden) to try getting him a custodial job at Madison High---whose bullheaded principal (Gale Gordon) was burglarised out of a chicken dinner the same evening, on tonight's edition of Our Miss Brooks. (CBS.)

Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Walter: Richard Crenna. Annoucer: Bob Lamond. Writer: Al Lewis.

1950: TRYING TO BREAK UP JULIUS AND MARJORIE---That's the mission of the hour when Julius (Walter Tetley), engaged to sponsor Scott's (Gale Gordon) niece (Louise Erickson), starts throwing his miniscule weight around to Phil (Harris), Alice (Faye), and Remley's (Elliott Lewis) annoyance, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Willie: Robert North. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

1958: NEGOTIATING THE PRICE---It isn't necessarily pleasant when a husband (Alan Bunce) fears his short trip out of town means a modeling agent (Alexander Clark) taking advantage of his absence to lure his wife (Peg Lynch) into signing a less-than-satisfactory contract for their charming daughter's modeling services, on today's edition of The Couple Next Door. (CBS.)

Writer: Peg Lynch.


1893---Gene Morgan (actor: Myrt & Marge), Racine, Wisconsin.
1900---Harlow Wilcox (announcer/actor, Fibber McGee & Molly; announcer, Suspense, Amos 'n' Andy), Omaha, Nebraska.
1912---Paul Weston (conductor: Chesterfield Supper Club), Springfield, Massachussetts.
1916---Mandel Kramer (actor: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar), Cleveland.
1917---Googie Withers (as Georgette Lizette Withers; actress: Theatre Royale), Karachi, Pakistan.
1921---Gordon McRae (singer/actor: Texaco Star Theater, Railroad Hour), East Orange, New Jersey.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Death of a Commentator: The Way It Was, 11 March

1944---An historian and journalist who has often appeared as an old-time radio commentator, Hendrik Willem van Loon---Dutch born, American citizen since 1919---dies today.

He was the first recipient of the world's first known literary prize for service benefitting children, the Newbery Medal, in 1922, for his book The Story of Mankind. (Honourable mentions that first year went to Charles Hawes for The Great Quest, Bernard Marshall for Cedric the Forester, William Bowen for The Old Tobacco Shop, Padraic Colum for The Golden Fleece, and Cornelia Meigs for The Windy Hill.)

van Loon was also the author of The Rise of the Dutch Kingdom, 1795-1813 and several other books, many of which examined inventions, arts, and architecture but some of which examined such historical figures as Bach, Simon Bolivar, and Thomas Jefferson.

In 1938, van Loon published a rejoinder to Hitler's Mein Kampf, a volume he called Our Battle: Being One Man's Answer to "My Battle".


1941: QUARANTINED FOR MEASLES---Just what Wistful Vista's biggest little tall teller (Jim Jordan) and his better half (Marian Jordan, who also plays Teeny) don't need: half the neighbourhood, if not the town, quarantined for measles in their humble abode . . . and Gildersleeve (Harold Peary), whose unseen wife is running things at his girdle factory in his absence (Gildersleeve: "Oh, what do women know about girdles?" McGee: "Plenty, if they got the proper foundation . . . and background"), isn't the only one getting more than just a little cabin-feverish, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee and Molly. (NBC.)

Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

1945: THE MAGNIFICENT DOPE---William Gargan, Janet Blair, and Tom Drake step in for Henry Fonda, Lynn Bari, and Don Ameche, in this adaptation of the 1942 farce about a failed success school owner's contest to find America's biggest failure---who turns out too content with his idle life, threatening to teach others the new failure philosophy, and blissfully unaware that the comely student he loves is engaged to the proprietor, on tonight's edition of The Old Gold Comedy Theater. (NBC.)

Host/director: Harold Lloyd. Adapted from the George Seaton screenplay, from a story by Joseph Schrank.

1951: A MOST GHASTLY EXPERIENCE---Well, that's what Tallulah Bankhead called putting together the week's show, after she "very helpfully" suggested they'd brought in too many singers for it---including jazz's original Mr. Smooth, Billy Eckstine ("I can sing better than she can, whoever she is"), pop stylist Evelyn Knight, and The Ol' Schnozzola, when they had a certain alleged singer already hosting the extravagazna, tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Bob Burns, Celeste Holm, Cliff Hall, Smith and Dale. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Music: Meredith ("Yes, sir, Miss Bankhead?") Willson. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1898---Dorothy Gish (actress: Texaco Star Playhouse, Lux Radio Theater), Massillon, Ohio.
1900---Andy Sannella (bandleader: Campbell Soup Orchestra, Gillette Community Sing), Brooklyn.
1907---Jessie Matthews (actress: The Dales), London.
1909---Ramona (as Estrild Ramona Myers; singer/pianist: Twenty Fingers of Sweetness; Kraft Music Hall; Paul Whiteman's Musical Varieties [on which she replaced jazz legend Mildred Bailey]; ABC Piano Playhouse), Lockland, Ohio; Karl Tunberg (writer: Lux Radio Theater), Spokane.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Denver on the Air: The Way It Was, 10 March

1922---Denver, Colorado's first radio station, KLZ, hits the air for the first time, after Minnesota-bred, radio-loving dentist W.D. Reynolds receives a licence for his experimental 9ZAF station.

Long a CBS affiliate, KLZ would endure numerous changes until the mid-1990s, including several music format changes and two failed tries at sports-oriented radio, before religious broadcaster Crawford Communications buys the station and converts it to a Christian talk and music format.


1955: THE EAGLE HAS LANDED---Silver Eagle, Mountie---starring Jim Ameche (brother of film and Bickersons star Don) as Jim Ryan (The Silver Eagle)---airs for the final time on ABC today, four months shy of what would be its fourth anniversary.

The show will make the cut into Frank Buxton and Bill Owens' The Big Broadcast 1920-1950 in spite of its not having premiered until a year after the designated coverage range of that guidebook---because those two authors will consider its demise to equal "the end of top-flight radio adventures."

ANNOUNCER (cold echo): The Silver Eagle!
SFX: (wolf . . . ; fade up galloping hoofs)
ANNOUNCER: A cry of the wild . . . a trail of danger . . . a scarlet rider of the Northwest Mounted serving justice with the swiftness of an arrow.
SFX : (Arrow effect; . . . thud)
ANNOUNCER: The Silver Eagle!
MUSIC: Theme ("The Winged Messenger," fade under for)
SFX: (Blizzard . . . dog team fading up and under)
ANNOUNCER: The untamed North . . . frontier of adventure and peril. The lone, mysterious North . . . where one man, dedicated to the motto of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police, faces danger and death to bring in the lawless and maintain the right . . . the most famous Mountie of them all . . . the Silver Eagle.
MUSIC: Theme (up and under).

---The standard introduction of Silver Eagle, Mountie.

The supporting cast has included Mike Romano and later Jack Lester as Joe Bideaux, John Barclay and later Jess Pugh as Inspector Argyle, Vic and Sade alumnus Clarence Hartzell as Doc, and Ed Prentiss (later Bill O'Connor) as the show's narrator.

Silver Eagle, Mountie was the creation of James Jewell, whom Buxton and Owen cite as having been considered the dean of the adventure thanks to having been the original producer for two such classic radio series, The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. (Jewell's sister, Lenore Allman, had asked for a radio role at Detroit's WXYZ, where Jewell then handled both those series---and he obliged, writing her into The Green Hornet as Lenore Case.) He also wrote for Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy from 1943-1951.

But Jewell also has a comedy legacy: he created and directed The Black Ace, which included the first known running old-time radio comedy role played by a young man whose future included a regular support role in Drene Time, with Don Ameche and Frances Langford (including playing shiftless brother-in-law Amos in the Bickersons sketches) and frequent guest appearances on Tallulah Bankhead's The Big Show---Danny Thomas.

Silver Eagle, Mountie's writers included Jewell, Thomas Elvidge, Gibson Scott Fox, John F. Kelly, James Lawrence, and Richard Thorne.


1939: WELL!! Y'ALL---Guess who's coming to Pine Ridge University to receive his honourary degree (hint: he's only 39 years old), never mind that Lum (Chester Lauck) doesn't exactly believe anything of the sort, other'n someone playing a joke, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (CBS.) Co-star/co-writer: Norris Goff.

1950: WOMEN'S RIGHTS, PART TWO---Since Liz (Lucille Ball) and Iris (Bea Benaderet) won't give up their hankering for equal rights, George (Richard Denning) and Atterbury (Gale Gordon) decide to have it their way: they can go out and win the bread, prompting the ladies to agree so long as their husbands do the housekeeping, a deal that seeds a slightly ticklish consequence for Liz and Iris, on tonight's edition of My Favourite Husband. (CBS.) Writers: Bob Carroll, Madelyn Pugh, Jess Oppenheimer.

1960: ONE FELLA'S FAMILY---A QUIET EVENING AT HOME---Riiiiiiiiiight, from Book Eye Vee, Chapter Eye Vee, Pages Eye Eye Eye Vee, but you also have to bear with Wally Ballou reporting from the Suffern Succotash Company meat processing plant to get there in the first place, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (You have to ask, you're not doing it right.)

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1888---Barry Fitzgerald (actor: His Honour, the Barber), Dublin.
1898---Cy Kendall (actor: Tarzan, One Man's Family, Escape), St. Louis.
1900---Peter DeRose (singer/pianist: Sweethearts of the Air), New York City.
1905---Richard Haydn (actor: The Charlie McCarthy Show), London.
1911---Warner Anderson (actor: Terry and the Pirates), Brooklyn.
1918---Heywood Hale Broun (commentator: CBS Sports), New York City.
1921---Paul Coates (writer: Dragnet), New York City.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Brewsters Lite: The Way It Was, 9 March

1945---Those Websters, a situation comedy set in the fictitious Chicago suburb Spring City, premieres on CBS as a replacement for the four-year-old comedy That Brewster Boy.

The short-lived replacement will be remembered if at all as the first known starring vehicle for old-time radio journeyman Willard Waterman (as George Webster), whose future will include succeeding Harold Peary as The Great Gildersleeve and a recurring role (as Mr. Merriweather) in the Ronald and Benita Colman comedy vehicle, The Halls of Ivy.

Waterman's supporting cast includes Connie Crowder (as Mrs. Webster), Arthur Young (as Billy Green, later replaced by Gil Stratton, Jr.) Joan Alt (as Billy's sister), Jerry Spellman (as Jeep), and Jane Webb (as Belinda Boyd).

Charles Irving announces the show, which is written by Priscilla Kent, Albert G. Miller, and Frank and Doris Hursley.

A kind of second-hand version of The Aldrich Family, That Brewster Boy had run since 1941 (first on NBC). It will be remembered primarily, if at all, for the actors who were the second and third to play the title role of Joey Brewster---Arnold Stang, the future sidekick to edgy radio satirist Henry Morgan and later the voice of cartoons' Top Cat; and, Dick York, the future co-star of television's Bewitched. (And, as it happens, the future husband of Joan Alt, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life.)

Three of That Brewster Boy's cast---Connie Crowder (Jane Brewster), Jerry Spellman (Pee Wee) and Jane Webb (Minerva)---played in Those Websters. Also part of That Brewster Boy was Bill Idelson (Chuck), known best for his longtime role as Rush Gook in Vic and Sade.

Pauline Hopkins and Owen Vincent were the writer and director of That Brewster Boy. They were sending bundles to the Communists to help fight the Nazis so naturally they were branded as Communists. The advertising agency came around, hired everyone from under them and they were going to change the name of the show and get rid of Pauline and Owen. Well, I was fresh out of the slum. It was the first time I ever had any money, but I went to Pauline and Owen and told them straight out that I didn't know what it was all about, but that I was with them. I wouldn't sign with the agency. Of course, I was taken off the show.

---Dick York, explaining the change from That Brewster Boy to Those Websters, in one of several 1991 interviews with John Douglas, the year before York died of emphysema.


1943: CARNEGIE HALL, PART TWO---God help us but Gracie (Allen) is still bent on playing the piano in Carnegie Hall with jazz legend Paul Whiteman, who fears she'll slaughter either his or the fabled concert venue's reputation---while she frets over insuring her fingers, and neither George (Burns) nor Whiteman can talk her out of the gig, on tonight's edition of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. (CBS.)

Special guests: Jose Turbe, Deems Taylor. Additional cast: Bill Goodwin, Jimmy Cash. Music: Paul Whiteman. Writers: Frank Galen, Paul Henning, Keith Fowler.

1947: AWAKENING AND ACCLAIM---Charlie cross-examines Edgar (Bergen) over the latter's missing from breakfast and tries talking him into subscribing to a wake-up service ("My slogan is 'You Sleep, I Reap,' says service operator McCarthy), Mortimer thinks he's too old to memorise a poem a child of five could memorise, and Charlie is named Model Boy for the Men of Tomorrow Foundation---for which honour guest Monty Woolley turns out to have nominated him (which explains his horning in on a farewell lunch), on tonight's edition of The Charlie McCarthy Show. (NBC.)

Cast: Ken Carpenter, Anita Gordon, Pat Patrick. Music: Ray Noble. Writers: Possibly Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher, Royal Foster, Dick Mack.


1893---Ara Gerald (actress: Our Gal Sunday), Sydney, Australia.
1902---Will Geer (actor: Bright Horizon; Family Theater), Franfort, Indiana.
1914---Fred Clark (actor: This Is Your FBI; Amos 'n' Andy), Lincoln, California.
1918---Marguerite Chapman (actress: Family Theater; Silver Theatre; Screen Guild Theatre), Chatham, New York.
1934---Joyce Van Patten (actress: Reg'lar Fellas), Queens, New York.
1935---Keely Smith (singer: Here's to Veterans), Norfolk, Virginia.

Friday, March 07, 2008

His Hundredth Anniversary---Sort of: The Way It Was, 7 March

1943---We emphasise "sort of": it is Fred Allen's one hundredth broadcast for Texaco.

That provokes mirth from the master himself and wife Portland Hoffa ("When you started in radio, Superman was just a Boy Scout"); a "March of Trivia" news segment ignoring the Oscars in favour of its own awards to those contributing nothing to film in 1942; a chat with singer-comedienne Judy Canova ("I'm glad to be back, Fred---it says here . . . "); and, a sketch of what might be if Hollywood finds itself making hillbilly films alone with the yodeling Canova (whose usual schtick on her own hit comedy set her up as a hillbilly manchaser of a sort) as the biggest star of the trend, on tonight's edition of Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen. (CBS; rebroadcast: Armed Forces Radio Service.)

Additional cast: Kenny Baker, Wynn Murray, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed. Music: Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame, Al Goodman Orchestra. Announcer: Jimmy Wallington. Writers: Fred Allen, Nat Hiken, Bob Weiskopf.


1933: THE RUNAWAY SOAP PRINCESS---CBS steps into the daytime serial suds for the first time, premiering Marie, the Little French Princess, with Ruth Yorke in the title role and James Meighan as Richard. Additional cast will include Allyn Joslyn, Alma Kruger, and Porter Hall, with Andre Baruch as the show's announcer.

The show may become remembered best, if at all, as the creation of Himan Brown, who produced and directed the show, which followed a princess from a fictitious country who ran away to live as a common young woman. Brown's future, however, includes a trademark that will prove many things, sudsy not among them: he will create, produce, and direct The Inner Sanctum Mysteries and, in a respected attempt to resurrect old-time radio drama, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater of 1974-1982.

Those, and not sudsy serials, will be the major reason why Brown will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.

Ruth Yorke, for her part, will roll up a rather thick resume as a radio soap actress, her credits including the title role in Jane Arden as well as roles in Aunt Jenny, Amanda of Honeymoon Hill (as Olive Cortleigh), John's Other Wife (as Yvonne Claire), Life Can Be Beautiful (as Marybelle Owens), Little Italy (as Mrs. Marino), and Mother of Mine (as Helen). She will also appear in the adventure series, Eno Crime Club.


1935: ABNER SWAPS WITH SNAKE HOGAN---With Abner (Norris Goff) doing boffo business over his swap policy---accepting whatever the customer has for store goods, from his half of the Jot 'em Down Store---Lum (Chester Lauck) and Dick Huddleston (also Goff) are first amused and then alarmed over the net results, especially when Snake has a proposition, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

1938: POPPY---W.C. Fields reprises his 1936 film role as a carnival hustler whose hustling is balanced with his devotion to his daughter (Ann Shirley, in the Rochelle Hudson film role), on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Billy Farnsworth: John Payne. Whiffen: Skeets Gallagher. Host: Cecil B. DeMille. From the play by Dorothy Donnelly; adapted from the screenplay by Virginia Van Upp.

1944: ARCHIE'S TAXES---The barkeep (Ed Gardner) takes on the daunting task of figuring his taxes with Col. Stoopnagle (F. Chase Taylor) due to return for a visit, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (Blue Network; rebroadcast: Armed Forces Radio Service.)

Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Florence Halop. Writers: Ed Gardner, Abe Burrows.

1944: HANK GUTSTOP'S PROPOSITION---He wants Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) to fake being a crook at the hotel, the better to help Hank convince his bosses that they still need a hotel detective who's thrown more longtime residents than crooks out of the establishment, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Sade: Bernadine Flynn. Writer: Paul Rhymer.


1913---Smokey Montgomery (musician: Columbia Country Caravan), Rinard, Iowa.
1929---Marion Marlowe (singer: Arthur Godfrey Time), St. Louis.
1937---Rhoda Williams (actress: Father Knows Best), Birmingham, Alabama.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"I Don't Even Know What I'm Talkin' About!": The Way It Was, 6 March

1906---And neither does anyone in the delivery room know what he's going to be talking about. They know only that the first sound out of the throat of Louis Francis Cristillo isn't, "Heeyyyyy, Abbaaaaaaaaaaattt!" when he is born today in Paterson, New Jersey.

He will seek and fail at finding film work in Hollywood beyond labour and extra work at MGM and Warner Brothers studios, before becoming a burlesque comic while stranded in St. Louis in 1930 (and, reputedly, refusing to deliver off-colour material), ultimately adopting the stage name Lou Costello, and working in the dying vaudeville during the decade, often as not as the immigrant who doesn't understand (and mangles accordingly) English.

During this period he will meet his future partner, Bud Abbott, for the first time, and making themselves a formal team (reputedly, at the explicit suggestion of Abbott's wife, Betty) in 1936.

The duo will make a signature out of Abbott's devious straight man and Costello's half-witted, language-challenged laugh-getter and a long enough career in radio (The Kate Smith Hour, The Chase & Sanborn Hour, and especially The Abbott & Costello Show), film, and (briefly enough) television. Their radio career will begin when they succeed Henny Youngman on Kate Smith's show and pick up when they begin as a summer replacement for Fred Allen in 1940---getting their own program two years later.

Costello will miss a year's work recovering from rheumatic fever (he was stricken in 1943), and the duo would feud in 1945 (reputedly, they will speak to each other on the air alone until the feud is patched up). Otherwise, they would remain a team through 1956, when Costello goes out on his own with Abbott semi-retiring.

Though Abbott & Costello will be perhaps the top drawing comedians in film in the 1940s, though their radio show will remain a popular attraction through much of the decade, not everyone will agree they were one of the classically innovative comedy teams of their time once their success was assured---or that they were always a pleasure to work for. Their major problem, apparently: they were petrified about doing much if any new material, or transcending the simple coordinates of their customary characters, as time and their fame went on.

They settled my contract for a lot of money. I insisted on that, 'cause they refused to do new material . . . Monte Hackett, the very prominent agent who got me the assignment, came to me and said, "The boys are afraid to do new material, Parke. I didn't know that" . . .

. . . I got a script together. I was head writer. Whoever the writers were, I would compile a script, and put my own material in---after all, I was getting top money, so I had to have something by way of a contribution---and then I would give it to Costello. I think I was only two weeks with them. They didn't like any of the material. And I finally said, "Look, if you're not going to take a chance with new material, you don't need me. Let me out." I was on a firm thirteen-week contract as I recall. I forget whether I was getting $1,000 or $1,250 [a week]; I know it was up around $10,000 when they settled with me.

---Parke Levy, one-time Abbott & Costello writer, to Joshua R. Young, for The Laugh Crafters: Comedy Writing in Radio and TV's Golden Age. (Beverly Hills: Past Time Publishing, 1999.)

Maybe the best way to fathom the radio appeal of lowbrow clowns like Abbott and Costello is to note that they found their groove early and stuck to it doggedly, first on stage, then in radio, and finally in films and on TV, which revived their reputations.

On radio, The Abbott & Costello Show remained true to the team's vaudeville roots, indulging in formulaic two-man repartee, often disguised in a bare-bones sketch . . . The first bit they ever did in radio became their most memorable, the classic "Who's on First?" routine that nailed down their place in comedy history and enshrined them in baseball's Hall of Fame, where their exchange still runs on a continuous loop. It was supposedly written into their radio contract that they must perform the bit once a month on their show.

---Gerald Nachman, in Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

We took a molehill and made a mountain out of it.

---Bud Abbott.

Further disruptions to the team's momentum will include Bud Abbott's heavy drinking (reputedly, his way of trying to salve the epilepsy he battled all his life), both men's gambling, eventual tax debts (their tax trouble will force both to sell their homes, their percentages of their films, and Costello's percentage of their television show) that ruin both men*, and the accidental death of Costello's infant son, from which associates believe he never really recovers before his death (at 52) of heart failure.

* - Bud Abbott told Screen Stories magazine in 1960 that Lou Costello, thanks to his majority ownership in their television series, may have had something left after all once he settled with the tax man. Which made him luckier than Abbott, who still owed short of $100,000 in back taxes, pending the sale of his home, at the time the interview was published.

Lou Costello died in 1959; his wife, Anne, died shortly thereafter following her own long battle with the bottle---a battle that may make a little more clear why Costello might have been somewhat harsh regarding Abbott's heavy drinking. Bud Abbott died of cancer in 1974---still broke.

And, just to clarify once and for all, Abbott & Costello, pace Mr. Nachman, are not and never have been inducted members of the baseball Hall of Fame . . .


1951: BOB HOPE MEETS THE RIGHT STUFF---That's then-Capt. Chuck Yeager, on whose home turf the Hope aggregation records the week's show, the desert installation known at the time as Muroc Air Force Base ("Where never is heard a discouraging word---and everyone applies for a transfer") but destined to become far more famous as Edwards Air Force Base---to which Hope is lined up to fly supersonic with Yeager himself, after which he needs partial resuscitation from Ava Gardner, on tonight's edition of The Bob Hope Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Hy Averback, Connie Haines. Music: Les Brown and his Band of Renown. Writers: Larry Gelbart and Larry Marks, or Marvin Fisher and Al Schwartz.

NOTE: This is the same Hy Averback who will become a successful television producer (Ensign O'Toole, F Troop, The Dukes of Hazzard) and director (episodes of The Rogues, McMillan and Wife, McCloud, and M*A*S*H---on which he was also a voice millions knew with no identification, until he blurted it out at the end of one episode: he was the loudspeaker voice in the first season.)


1882---Guy Kibbee (actor: Lux Radio Theater), El Paso, Texas.
1885---Rosario Bourdon (conductor: Cities Service Concert/Cities Service Highway of Melody), Longuereil, Quebec.
1900---Jay C. Flippen (announcer: Battle of the Sexes, Major Bowes and His Original Amateur Hour, Stop Me If You've Heard This One), Little Rock, Arkansas.
1916---Virginia Gregg (actress: Ellery Queen, Let George Do It, One Man's Family, Richard Diamond, Private Detective), Harrisburg, Illinois; Rochelle Hudson (actress: Hollywood Hotel), Oklahoma City.
1917---Frankie Howard (comedian: The Frankie Howard Show), York, U.K.
1923---Ed McMahon (announcer: NBC Monitor), Detroit.
1930---Lorin Maazel (conductor: NBC Summer Symphony), Paris.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"You Were Expecting Maybe Emperor Shapirohito?" The Way It Was, 4 March

1903---The brilliant dialect comedienne who becomes immortal as "Allen's Alley's" tartly dreamy, malaprop-prone Jewish housewife, Pansy Nussbaum, is born today in Odessa, Ukraine.

Minerva Pious will join and become a mainstay of Fred Allen's Mighty Allen Art Players in the 1930s, appearing in his news spoofs on The Salad Bowl Revue, Town Hall Tonight, Hour of Smiles, and Texaco Star Theater, as well as the sketches that usually occupied the final quarter of those hour-long shows.

In due course, however, she knits nearly all her news spoof spots into the single presence of Mrs. Nussbaum, when Allen refines the news spoofs into the continuing "Allen's Alley" segments beginning in 1942. Along with Parker Fennelly's dry New England farmer Titus Moody, Minerva Pious's Mrs. Nussbaum will stay in the Alley for its entire life.

Customarily (but not exclusively), hers will be the third door on which Allen will knock during his weekly jaunts to the Alley, behind Senator Beauregard Claghorn (announcer Kenny Delmar) and Titus Moody (it should be noted that Parker Fennelly himself hailed from New England) but ahead of Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed) and, later, Ajax Cassidy (Peter Donald).

Mrs. Nussbaum's trademark reply to Allen's weekly knock ("Nuuuuuuuu?"---Yiddish for "Hello") and cheery comebacks to Allen's "Ahhh, Mrs. Nussbaum"---You were expecting maybe Cecil B. Schlemeil?/You were expecting maybe Dinah Schnorra?/You were expecting maybe Emperor Shapirohito?/You were expecting maybe Weinstein Churchill?---will become as familiar to "Allen's Alley" fans as Claghorn's blustery Southern fries, Moody's dry New England fatalism, Openshaw's mock verse pomposity, and Cassidy's brougue's gallery.

More often than not, her dialogues while answering the "Allen's Alley" question of the week involve a few gags at the expense of her rarely-heard husband, Pierre. At least, he was rarely if ever heard once his wife became an "Alley" regular. (Often forgotten: the earlier "Allen's Alley" sketches featured Mr. Nussbaum, with Pious taking other roles in the sketches until she secured the Mrs.' permanent place.)

FRED ALLEN: Let's try this next door here.
SFX: (Knocking; door opens.)
FRED: Ahhhh, Mrs. Nussbaum!
PANSY: You were expecting maybe Hoagie Carbuncle?
FRED: Tell me, Mrs. M, do you have trouble sleeping?
PANSY: Who could sleep? Every night with his dreaming, mine husband Pierre is waking me up.
FRED: He dreams, huh?
PANSY: Always he's different things.
FRED: Dreams he's different things? How do you mean?
PANSY: One night, Pierre is dreaming he is the Lone Stranger.
FRED: Yeah?
PANSY: All night long, he is yelling, "Hi-ho Silver!"
FRED: "Hi-ho Silver," huh?
PANSY: Upstairs is living a Mrs. Silver.
FRED: Yeah?
PANSY: All night, she is yelling back, "Hi-ho Nussbaum!"
FRED: I see.
PANSY: One night, Pierre is dreaming he is an automobile, a roadster.
FRED: A roadster?
PANSY: In his pajamas, Pierre is sleeping with the top down.
FRED: Oh, my.
PANSY: Once, he is dreaming he is an Alka-Seltzer.
FRED: An Alka-Seltzer?
PANSY: All night, Pierre is fizzing.
FRED: No wonder you can't sleep.
PANSY: Last night, he should drop dead.

Pious's Mrs. Nussbaum will become popular enough that she receives invitations to play the character as a guest role on such other old-time radio shows as The Jack Benny Program (inviting Benny and company to her new restaurant: "We feature soft lights and hard salami") and Duffy's Tavern (on which Mrs. Nussbaum sought marital counsel from real-life radio marital counselor John J. Anthony).

Harry Tugend, who wrote for Fred, knew most of [the eventual "Allen's Alley" regulars] and that's how they got to work on the show. Minnie---Minerva Pious---was one of the people Harry Tugend knew, from acting around at parties in the Village. Minnie could do a million things . . . Nice lady. She had a physical affliction---she had a bad hip, a severe limp. She was very concerned about television; she never worked very much. But radio was fine.

---Bob Weisskopf, a writer on The Fred Allen Show, to Joshua R. Young, for The Laugh Crafters. (Beverly Hills: Past Time Publishing, 1999.)

Interestingly enough, [the four stereotypical "Allen's Alley" regulars] were never criticised as being anti-Southern, anti-Semitic, anti-New England, or anti-Irish. The warmth and good humour with which they were presented made them acceptable even to the most sensitive listeners.

---Frank Buxton and Bill Owen, The Big Broadcast 1920-1950. (New York: Avon Books, 1970.)

Allen's approach to some social issues is not made more digestible because of Allen's spicing, but as long as he keeps up the kind of fun he launched over NBC Sundays at 8:30, I'll continue to listen anyway.

---The New Republic, mid-to-late 1940s.

Her hip notwithstanding, Pious in due course will do some television work (in The Colgate Comedy Hour and The Chevrolet Television Theatre and, briefly, the soap opera The Edge of Night as a landlady), and a few small film roles---including bringing Mrs. Nussbaum to film in the Fred Allen vehicle It's In the Bag.

Radio will prove her true calling, however; in addition to her long tenure in the Allen company, she will appear in plays by Norman Corwin for Columbia Workshop, as well as the serial comedy-drama The Goldbergs, the pure soap Life Can Be Beautiful, and the barbed satire The Henry Morgan Show. But her most enduring legacy will be behind the third door in "Allen's Alley."

FRED ALLEN: Well, let's try this next door.
SFX: (knocking; door opens)
FRED: Ahhh, Mrs. Nussbaum!
PANSY: You were expecting maybe Edward Everett Horowitz?
FRED: Tell me, Mrs. M---what about this telephone anniversary?
PANSY: Thanks to the telephone, today I am Mrs. Pierre Nussbaum.
FRED: Really?
PANSY: When I am a young girl, footloose and fancy---
FRED: Yeah?
PANSY: ---mine maiden name is Pom-Pom Schwartz.
FRED: Pom-Pom Schwartz?
PANSY: Also, I'm having one sister, Caress.
FRED: (chuckles) Caress Schwartz?
PANSY: Yes. She is marrying Skizzy Mandelbaum.
FRED: Skizzy, huh?
PANSY: Skizzy is doing very well. A pickle salesman. Specialising in odd lots by appointment.
FRED: Oh. Your sister married, but you couldn't get a boyfriend, huh?
PANSY: No. I am washing mine dainties in Lox.
FRED: Uh-huh.
PANSY: Also I am brushing with Pepsodent the teeth.
FRED: That didn't help?
PANSY: I am still tormidium.
FRED: Oh. What about---what about the telephone?
PANSY: One Halloween night, I am sitting home alone, bobbing in sour cream for red feet---
FRED: Yes?
PANSY: ---the phone is ringing---
FRED: Uh-huh.
PANSY: ---I am saying, "Hello"---
FRED: Hello.
PANSY: ---a voice is saying, "Cookie, vill you marry me?"
FRED: And you?
PANSY: I am saying, "Positively!" The next day, I am a bride, and yoiks away to Niagara Falls!
FRED: And that is why you say---
PANSY: Thanks to the telephone company, today I am Mrs. Pierre Nussbaum.
FRED: But why be so grateful to the telephone company?
PANSY: Well, the night Pierre is calling and proposing---
FRED: Yeah?
PANSY: ---they are giving him a wrong number!

---From The Fred Allen Show, 23 June 1946.


1927---Ten days after the Radio Act of 1927 was signed by President Calvin Coolidge, the new Federal Radio Commission meets for the first time.

But its powers over radio broadcasting at the outset are minimal at best: the Radio Act granted the new body no official censorship power beyond considering programming when renewing radio licences, though the Act barred programming that included "obscene, indecent, or profane language."

The Act's only mention of radio networks, moreover, was its grant that the FRC should "have the authority to make special regulations applicable to stations engaged in chain broadcasting." The Act didn't grant the FRC power to make rules regulating advertising and required only that advertisers identify themselves.


1946: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD THEATER?---Clem Kadiddlehopper is a little taken aback when he can't get into the local movie house into which he sneaks regularly, on tonight's edition of The Raleigh Cigarette Program with Red Skelton. (NBC.)

Cast: Anita Ellis, Verna Felton, GeGe Pearson, Lurene Tuttle. Writers: Jack Douglas, Ben Freedman, Johnny Murray, Larry Rhine.

1950: SAVING MARJORIE FROM HER LOVER---First, sponsor Scott (Gale Gordon) dresses down the clueless band (once again); then, he wants Phil (Harris), Alice (Faye), and Remley (Elliott Lewis) to pry his daughter (Louise Erickson) from the older man she's been dating. The fun begins when, somehow, obnoxious grocery boy Julius (Walter Tetley) attracts her attention---and affection, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Ann Whitfield. Willie: Robert North. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


1882---Eustace Wyatt (actor: Our Gal Sunday), Bath, Somerset, U.K.
1891---Chic Johnson (comedian: Olsen and Johnson; The Rudy Vallee Show), Chicago.
1893---Dorothy Sands (actress: Betty Cameron; Mary Noble, Backstage Wife), Cambridge, Massachussetts.
1900---Sam Hearn (comedian: The Jack Benny Program), Jersey City, New Jersey.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Gamble is Over, For Now: The Way It Was, 3 March

2008---The third generation of Gambling radio is no more---John R. Gambling, who succeeded his namesake father and grandfather as perhaps the longest-running single-family presence in the medium, tracing back to 1925, has been fired by New York WABC.

The third John Gambling hosted a 10:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. weekday morning program, a shrinkage from the vintage morning-long Rambling with Gambling enterprise his grandfather had launched as a mix of pleasant chat and what we'd now call easy listening music. The New York Daily News said the reason for releasing the third Gambling was pure economics.

The fourth quarter and the year was difficult for the broadcasting industry and the company. The performance of the larger-market radio stations acquired in the ABC Merger was particularly disappointing.

---Farid Suleman, chairman of Citadel Broadcasting, which now owns WABC.

Gambling's father, Radio Hall of Famer John A. Gambling, whose achievements included radio's first known helicopter traffic and school closure reports, succeeded his father John B. Gambling in 1959, after the two men worked together a few years. The third of the Gamblings joined his father as co-host in 1985, working as a team until John A.'s 1991 retirement.

The original Rambling with Gambling format was ended in 2000, the same year John A. was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame. The 2003 Guiness Book of World Records called the show radio's longest-running, but that may have transposed the longevity of the Gamblings themselves. Radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, expanding on John Dunning's research, has noted that Rambling with Gambling moved to mornings---following its actual birth as a mid-day talk feature in 1942---as a lead-in to John B. Gambling's original morning show: a kind of "gym class" in which Gambling conducted exercises and bantered wittily, accompanied by the Vincent Sorey orchestra. (Gambling had succeeded publisher Bernarr McFadden hosting the exercise show, whose format was created by Arthur Bagley.)

John R. Gambling's future at this writing is unknown.


1953: WHISPERING TRAVELS---Hooking largely around Hope Winslow, an author and traveler whose journeys and experiences provide the basis for much of its action and dialogue, Whispering Streets, a new half-hour soap opera, premieres on ABC radio.

Veteran radio soap actress Gertrude Warner, who once played the title roles in old-time radio soaps Ellen Randolph, Joyce Jordan, M.D. (formerly Joyce Jordan, Girl Intern) and Mrs. Miniver, plays Hope and narrates Whispering Streets. At the same time, she plays Pamela in Marriage for Two; her radio resume to this point also includes roles in soaps Against the Storm, The Right to Happiness, When a Girl Marries, and Young Doctor Malone, as well as such radio dramas as The Shadow (the third Margot Lane) and Perry Mason (as Della Street).

Whispering Streets will move to CBS in 1959 and stay there until 25 November 1960---when its final episode will become considered the curtain-closure for old-time radio soaps. For on that same day, CBS will cancel at last four other vintages: Ma Perkins, The Right to Happiness, Young Doctor Malone, and The Second Mrs. Burton.

Extremely few transcribed episodes of Whispering Streets survive for 21st Century old-time radio collectors, but some scripts from its 1958 season are believed to be among the SPERDVAC Collection at the University of Maryland's Library of American Broadcasting.


1948: THE COBBS TRUCKING COMPANY---It has a major problem when a partner turns up missing after catching onto an in-house hijack and fence operation, on tonight's edition of Boston Blackie. (Mutual; syndicated by Ziv.)

Blackie: Richard Kollmer. Mary: Jan Minor. Faraday: Maurice Tarplin.

1950: THE FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD GENIUS IN LOVE WITH VICTORIA---Hall (Ronald Colman) offers prodigy Merton Savada (Barney Phillips) solace when the boy begins cutting classes and spending long nights writing love poems---until Merton reveals the object of his affections and verse, on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC.)

Victoria: Benita Hume Colman. Additional cast: Henry Blair, Gloria Gordon. Writer: Don Quinn.


1890---Edmund Lowe (actor: Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt), San Jose, California.
1902---Ruby Dandridge (actress: Gallant Heart; The Judy Canova Show), Memphis, Tennessee.
1906---Donald Novis (actor: Jumbo Fire Chief Program), Hastings, U.K.
1911---Jean Harlow (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Kansas City.
1915---John Nelson (host: Bride and Groom; Know Your NBCs; Live Like a Millionaire), unknown.
1920---James Doohan (actor: You Never Had It So Good), Vancouver, B.C.
1921---Diana Barrymore (actress: Crime Does Not Pay), New York City.
1924---Cathy Downs (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Mail Call), Port Jefferson, New York; Barbara Jean Wong (actress: Cinnamon Bear), Los Angeles.
1937---Bobby Driscoll (actor: A Day in the Life of Dennis Day; Family Theater), Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. and Murray Kempton: A Reunion of Gentlemen

Almost eleven years ago, Newsday Sunday Currents editor Christopher Lehmann's elegy to Murray Kempton (in was headlined, "The last gentleman columnist," an appellation Kempton himself might have disputed so long as his friend William F. Buckley, Jr. remained alive and writing.

In flesh and blood Mr. Buckley no longer does, in this world, anyway, having passed at last after a battle with diabetes, emphysema, and widowhood. (His wife preceded him by almost a year.) But like his friend Mr. Kempton his mind and soul lives as unfurled in fifty books and enough essays (it was calculated elsewhere) to fill forty-three more, should anyone have the resource or the inclination to bind them.

Transideological friendships (the term was Mr. Buckley's, first, I think) fascinate the composed and mortify the conspiracy-obsessed, the bicyclist Mr. Kempton of the left with none of its recalcitrant self-delusions, the sailor Mr. Buckley of the right with none of its insouciant self-destructions, and they transcended the fascination and mortification alike by projecting together the ancient observation toward Edmund Burke that they chose their sides like fanatics and defended them like gentlemen.

It was enough, almost, to make one wish for his own passage in hand with Mr. Buckley's for the chance to observe the reunion once passed through the checkpoints.

On my seventy-first birthday he sent me the complete sonatas of Scarlatti, performed by Scott Morris. And a letter that began, "I pray your forgiveness for having waked one morning awhile back to the revelation of how much I missed you. There's little enough to say beyond that foolishness, and nothing of wisdom except to report that the years between 78 and 80 are quite shockingly depleting and to warn you to brace yourself for their leakage with an early commitment to the disciplines of Geritol . . . I cry your mercy for divagating but, when people haven't talked for so long, degrees of loss of touch do assert themselves. I do, as I first said, very much miss you but . . . I am otherwise content with having grown too old for further steps on the road to Avernus, which, as Virgil soundly observed, is a slope so easy that the Germans had but to begin it by underpaying Bach to travel straight down to the Holocaust."

He was a great artist, and a great friend.

---William F. Buckley, Jr., "Murray Kempton, 1917-1997," republished in Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. (Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2004; 594 pages.)

And, a tolerant acquiescent, if we are to believe the dedication inscribed upon Mr. Kempton's second anthology of essays, published (it seemed) a century after the first (For William F. Buckley, Jr., genius at friendships that surpass all understanding), and telegraphed in The New Yorker when the writer profiling Mr. Kempton noted Mr. Buckley's years-on badgering that the former get the anthology done already.

It was worth the protracted wait, of course, and the value merely began with Mr. Kempton citing Louis Armstrong from an ancient interview that there's kicks everywhere.

Mr. Buckley and Mr. Kempton spun their public musings with the sort of lyric intricacy voted heterodox by succeeding generations of rhetoricians and editors for whom any line more complicated than that from the sidewalk to the donut shop is an assault upon the donut shop itself. The destination is the thing; our Kemptons and Buckleys remind us that the journey means almost more, a reminder that affronts in a speed-bound era no matter that the reminder is lyric and witty in the same expression.

And few were the targets unworthy of their withering counterpoints, though you might have found one or two about whom you'd have said they escaped with their lives on the flimsiest of shadows of doubt.

For Mr. Buckley that would surely have been Gore Vidal; their infamous 1968 television debates seem to have been the prime among the prurient in recalling Mr. Buckley's signature hours, perhaps because it was the prime among the very few times he had lost his public temper. For Mr. Kempton that would surely have been Lillian Hellman, whose prettily disingenuous balloon received its first pricks in 1976, when Mr. Kempton lacerated the self-congratulatory selectivities of Scoundrel Time.

They had something else in common. Each was a nonpareil elegist. I have never read any such writing more elegantly affectionate than those written by either man, against even their adversaries or their discomforters, and I have seen none written for either that approaches their genius for escort to the next world.

The heart attack upon pancreatic cancer that struck down Murray Kempton in 1997 granted Bill Buckley his chance. None have yet done Mr. Buckley his genuine due, though one or two have approached the neighbourhood, and I am neither qualified nor worthy to enter. We shall have to wait our turn before we have the honour of hearing how Mr. Kempton welcomed Mr. Buckley through the gates, once Mrs. Buckley permitted him access, but we still have the sad pleasure of imagining how it left God lost for words for once. Even with Scarlatti and Satchmo offering the soundtrack.

None of which has to do with the customary subject of this journal. Unless you stop to consider that even recalling Mr. Buckley's famous mannerisms, or Mr. Kempton's pipe and bike, it isn't untoward to suggest that the pair of these men in the classic radio era would have delivered an elevating music in their own right, kicks everywhere.

Marconi's First Step: The Way It Was, 2 March

1897---Guglielmo Marconi---whose interest in electricity was renewed by published reviews of Heinrich Hertz's discoveries of radio waves (electromagnetic radiation), and who has studied with Augusto Righi, who worked as a Hertz researcher---receives the first known wireless patent, from the government of Great Britain, almost a year after he first filed for the patent.

After experiments of his own, many of which are done in his Pontecchio, Italy home and aim at transmitting telegraph messages without needing connecting wires, an idea many have tried with no commercial success previously, Marconi will develop a so-called spark-gap radio transmitter (based on one designed earlier by Righi), a telegraph key sending impulses based on the Morse code, a more reliable variant of Edouard Branley's coherer receiver, and a telegraph register to record the key's Morse code transmissions.

Two years before receiving his patent, Marconi experimented outdoors, with longer transmitter and receiver antennae arranged vertically, and discovered that each touching the ground resuled in a greater transmission range---and began transmitting signals at least a mile away, convincing him (according to several sources) that with more research and finance his devices might reach greater distances and prove viable in commercial and military terms alike.

Officially, the Marconi patent is known as British patent GB12039, "For Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals, and in Apparatus Therefor" (original spelling)---considered in due course to be the first known radio communication patent in the world. In due course, there will be debate as to whether or not Marconi's devices were patentable since they advance and actualise the earlier discoveries of Hertz and others. (This, of course, foreshadows 21st century arguments over whether certain technologies related to the Internet can be patentable because they, too, advance and actualise prior art.)

Marconi will refuse an offer to sell the rights to his work by the British post office. Over four months after receiving the wireless patent, Marconi will form the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, Ltd. and serve as a director and chief engineer. Three years afterward, he renames the company Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd.---a year after he opened a branch in the United States . . . the branch for which a young man named David Sarnoff, the future founder of the National Broadcasting Company, would as a telegraph operator, gaining initial fame for picking up distress reports tied to the sinking Titanic.

Indeed, the Titanic will help revive the Marconi companies, which lost money during their establishment years. (The doomed ship's two radio operators were employed, in fact, not by the White Star Line but by Marconi International Marine Communication Company; Marconi himself would testify, to a Court of Inquiry investigating the Titanic disaster, about marine telegraphy and its sea emergency procedures.)

By 1912, however, American Marconi will sell its assets to the General Electric Company under pressure from Washington, thanks to its being considered a near-monopoly following its absorption of bankrupt United Wireless. GE will use the Marconi assets to form RCA---where Marconi fast-key artist Sarnoff will rise to become the new company's general manager, during which time he forms NBC as an RCA subsidiary.

Marconi's career will conclude in controversy. First, his company will come to be seen as somewhat slow when continuous wave transmission becomes the wave of the future around, though the Marconi companies finally begin working with such transmission and, in fact, set up the first known entertainment radio broadcasts in England, preluding the Marconi enterprise's participation in the founding of the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1922.

But a year later he joined Italy's Fascist party, and received an appointment from Mussolini as president of Accademia d'Italia (The Academy of the Lynxes, a prominent Italian science institution) in 1930. His public defence of Mussolini's invasion of Ethopia will get him barred from speaking on the subject over the BBC.

Notwithstanding, Marconi's death in 1937---he was twice married and the father of three daughters and a son (a fourth daughter died in infancy)---will be observed by old-time radio stations worldwide, with two minutes of silence, in memory of the man who fathered radio, even if it had several grandfathers.


1941: DEATH RIDES A BROOMSTICK---On the two hundredth anniversary of a curse said to be blurted out in rage---by a woman against her executioner, before she's burned as a witch---Lamont Cranston (Bill Johnstone) and Margot Lane (Marjorie Anderson) try to prove the innocence of the executioner's great-great-grandson, who fears the curse has taken effect . . . and who's just been broken away from custody on his way to a life sentence for his brother's murder, on tonight's edition of The Shadow. (Mutual; advisory: Several moments of echoing and skipping in the second half of the surviving recording.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Writer: Possibly Walter B. Gibson.

1944: PORTRAIT WITHOUT A FACE---The painter (Philip Dorn) of an admired and mysterious thinks the former lover (Michelle Morgan) he painted is the woman who assassinated an aviation-minded general slandered as a criminal in prewar France---a woman whose husband (George Coulouris), a Nazi collaborator, has sent her to try luring him to his own death, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Story: Louis Peletier.


1902---Dame Flora Robson (actress: Streets of Pompeii [BBC]), Brighton, U.K.
1904---Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel (writer: American School on the Air; Columbia Workshop), Springfield, Massachussetts.
1909---Mel Ott (nickname: Master Melvin; baseball player/manager turned sportscaster: Detroit Tigers play-by-play), Gretna, Louisiana.
1917---Desi Arnaz (as Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III; bandleader: The Bob Hope Show), Santiago, Cuba.
1918---Elmira Roessler (actress: Ma Perkins; Mary Noble, Backstage Wife), St. Louis.
1919---Jennifer Jones (actress: Radio Hall of Fame), Tulsa, Oklahoma.