Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"He was, or pretended to be, the average Joe . . . ": The Way It Was, 30 April

1945---After several years hosting a morning program for a network-owned Washington, D.C. radio station, World War II service as a Naval Reserve pilot, a brief stint as Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater announcer, and a first-hand account of Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral (in which his genuine burst to tears on the air moved listeners---Roosevelt had authorised his Naval Reserve commission and was a longtime listener himself), old-time radio mainstay Arthur Godfrey hits the CBS network full time, with the morning program Arthur Godfrey Time.

Mostly spontaneous in its potpourri of monologues, interviews, and music, Arthur Godfrey Time launches its genial-on-the-air/cantankerous-off-the-air host to two decades of radio life, and prove the longest-lasting among several shows Godfrey will do for radio and television; Arthur Godfrey Time---in spite of several remaking/remodelings---will be a radio fixture until 1972.

Godfrey's hold on his audience was that he was, or pretended to be, the average Joe, unimpressed with the glitter of showbiz or with politicians and all the other highfalutin pretensions that he ridiculed in his quasi-hayseed manner. In fact, he hung out with celebrities and made sure you knew he was on a first-name basis with politicians. Nonetheless, listeners felt he was one of them . . . but as his stature grew he became as pompous as the people he kidded.

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

Pompous and ruthless, as it will turn out. Julius La Rosa, especially, can tell you, on the rare days now when he isn't tired of talking about it.


1908: ALL ABOUT EVE---Little do the Mill Valley, California parents of Eunice Quedens know, when she delivers her first punch line at the sting of the doctor's slap today, that this insecure girl---intimidated for fearing her mother's beauty an impossible trait to obtain for herself---will grow up to become old-time radio's favourite high school English teacher---sardonically sexy, in and out of calamity (one historian will refer to her in due course as "the thinking man's Lucy"), and lost for ways to give the clueless object of her affections a clue.

A one-time Ziegfeld girl who made a modest name for herself in films as the wisecracking best friend (the same historian: "a master of the dry aside, sidelong look, and permanently arched eyebrow"), her radio comedy chops will be sharpened as a cast member for Danny Kaye's short-lived but engaging CBS show of the mid-1940s, not to mention The Sealtest Village Store with Jack Haley and Jack Carson.

Befriending CBS chief William S. Paley, he talks her into auditioning for the show, after Shirley Booth flunks the audition and Lucille Ball turns it down without one.

She never played the comedian offstage---she didn't need to be the funniest person in the room, unlike so many comics, who find it difficult to get off. She went out, got the laughs, and went back to her ranch in the [San Fernando] Valley. She was just a wonderfully unselfish actress, and was just so up all the time; she made you feel good to be around her.

---Richard Crenna (Walter Denton), to Nachman.

All of which ensures Eunice Quedens has nothing to fear from anyone else's actual or alleged glamour---even if she never changes her name to Eve Arden.

1945: AUF WIEDERSEN, LORD HAW-HAW---For the final time before his capture and trial, William Joyce broadcasts as notorious pro-Nazi propagandist Lord Haw-Haw.


1939: SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY ON RADIO---Jack (Benny) remembers the nerves of his first broadcast, basks in congratulations today, and takes the usual needling from Mary (Livingstone) . . . this time, over the anniversary ad in the paper---placed by him, on tonight's edition of The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Don Wilson, Kenny Baker. Music: Phil Harris and His Orchestra. Writers: Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin, John Tackaberry.

1941: SAMMY IS BACK---He's back from the business trip he wasn't on, and Molly (Gertrude Berg) is bent on getting the truth about Sammy's (Albert Ryder) disappearance and fracturing marriage plans, no matter how frazzled Jake (James Waters) and Rosalie (Roslyn Siber) are, while Mr. Allison wants to put an end to Sylvia's (Zena Provendie) lie, on today's edition of The Goldbergs. (CBS.)

Writer: Gertrude Berg.

1944: ENGAGED TO EVE---In the middle of his still-uneasy mayoral campaign, Gildersleeve (Harold Peary)---inadvertently---announces his engagement to Eve Goodwin (Bea Benaderet) . . . only it might have been nice if he'd checked with her before accepting his congratulations, on tonight's edition of The Great Gildersleeve. (NBC.)

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

1950: HIRING A SECRETARY---Alice (Faye) thinks congenitally disorganised Phil (Harris) needs one to clear his overaccumulated mail . . . and she's going to make bloody sure he doesn't get one to set the hormones moaning, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Remley: Elliott Lewis. Julius: Walter Tetley. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Walter Sharp. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


1903---Fulton Lewis, Jr. (news commentator, Mutual Broadcasting System), Washington, D.C.
1909---Bud Linn (singer, the King's Men: Fibber McGee & Molly), Indianapolis.
1910---Al Lewis (writer/director: Our Miss Brooks), New York City.
1911---Orin Tovrov (writer: The Brighter Day; Ma Perkins; Manhattan Mother), Boston.
1916---Robert Shaw (choral director: Radio Hall of Fame, American School of the Air), Red Bluff, California.
1917---Bea Wain (singer: The Children's Hour; Your Hit Parade), Bronx, New York.
1919---Jack Haskell (singer: The Dave Garroway Show), Akron, Ohio.
1925---Corinne Calvert (actress: The Martin & Lewis Show), Paris.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Doctor Moves His Shingle: The Way It Was, 29 April

1940---Five months after his practise opens on NBC's Blue Network, Young Doctor Malone moves to CBS, sponsored by General Foods' Post cereals, and starring future Ethel & Albert/The Couple Next Door co-star Alan Bunce as small-town physician Jerry Malone in fictitious Three Oaks.

The show will change sponsors, from General Foods to Procter & Gamble, in 1945---the fourth Irna Phillips soap to be sponsored by the soap and hygiene products giant since they bought the rights to The Right of Happiness. And, as of 1947, the title role will be played by its best-remembered portrayer, future New York children's television legend Sandy Becker.

Young Doctor Malone will also achieve a kind of milestone in June 1952, when Procter & Gamble begins taping the live CBS broadcasts of Young Doctor Malone and The Brighter Day one day . . . and repeating them on NBC the next.

In between Alan Bunce and Sandy Becker, Jerry Malone will be played by Carl Frank and Charles Irving. Elizabeth Reller and, later, Barbara Weeks, will play Malone's first wife, Ann; daughter Jill will be played by Madeleine Pierce (Just Plain Bill; Ethel & Albert), Joan Lazer, and Rosemary Rice; Malone's intrusive mother, by Evelyn Varden (Big Sister; Front Page Farrell; mr. ace and JANE; The Road of Life) and Vera Allen (Big Sister; Hilltop House); and, second wife Tracy by Joan Alexander (Against the Storm; The Brighter Day), Jone Allison, and Gertrude Warner (Against the Storm; Beyond These Valleys; The Brighter Day; Brownstone Valley).

The heroes of Young Doctor Malone, Big Sister, and Young Widder Brown are doctors, and medical men flit in and out of all other serials. The predominance of doctors may be accounted for by the fact that radio surveys have frequently disclosed that the practise of medicine is at the top of the list of professions popular with the American housewife.

. . . Dr. Jerry Malone, by the way, won my True Christian Martyr Award for 1947 by being tried for murder and confined to a wheelchair at the same time. In March of this year, the poor fellow came full Soapland circle by suffering an attack of amnesia.

---James Thurber, in "Soapland: Ivorytown, Rinsoville, Anacinville, and Crisco Corners," The New Yorker, 1948; republished in The Beast in Me and Other Animals: A New Collection of Pieces and Drawings About Human Beings and Less Alarming Creatures. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948.)

The show's writers included David Driscoll, Julian Funt, David Leeson, and Charles Sussman---the last of whom also wrote for such Phillips soaps as The Right to Happiness and The Road of Life.


1939: THE CLIFF---Five years after forcing his naive subordinate (Milton C. Herman) over a cliff following a botched job, counterfeiter Mack Weber (Frank Lovejoy) looks about to face a similar fate---at the gunpoint of the subordinate's widow (Betty Winkler), on tonight's edition of Arch Oboler's Plays. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Betty Kane, Curt Conway. Writer/director: Arch Oboler.

1945: "WE MUST TAKE THE GOOD NEWS WITH THE BAD"---A Kamikaze attack on an American hospital ship docked off Guam, killing 29 and wounding 33; unconfirmed dispatches of Hitler's death in Berlin; a Swedish confab regarding reputed surrender offerings and terms by SS chief Heinrich Himmler; and, other flashes, bashes, speculations, and rapid-firing on tonight's edition of The Jergen's Journal with Walter Winchell. (ABC.)

1951: "TALLULAH, YOU'RE STARTING . . . "---Dame Tallulah Bankhead being kind to her is just about the last thing Ethel Merman can handle . . .

BANKHEAD: Well, darlings, yesterday the producer of this show told me that I have been mistreating our guest stars. That I was insulting, belligerent, rough, and tough. Well, I've come to the conclusion that he's right---and I'm gonna tell him so when he gets out of the hospital.

From now on, I know what I'll do. Every time I find myself losing my temper, I'll remember this little motto: (lowering her voice)One, two---think it through; three, four---don't get sore; five, six---never mix; seven, eight---hesitate; nine, ten---friends again. Heh-heh . . . isn't that sweet? I found it on the back of the box of the largest oatmeal flakes I've ever eaten.

But you just notice how it works when I introduce our first box of oats---I mean, our first guest, Ethel Merman. Ladies and gentlemen, it is with the greatest of pleasure . . . that I now present (trilling with exaggeration) that lovely, charming, gracious first lady of musical comedy herself . . . (mock impatience) Well, Ethel, get it over here! (Laughter.)

MERMAN: Who, me?
BANKHEAD: I said Ethel Merman! (Applause.)
MERMAN: Was that you saying all those nice things about me?
BANKHEAD: That's right, darling.
MERMAN: Well, cut it out!
BANKHEAD: (mock astonishment) Why?
MERMAN: 'Cause then I'll have to say nice things about you, and I'm not that good an actress.
BANKHEAD: (softly, possibly through gritted teeth) One, two---think it through . . . three, four---don't get sore . . .
MERMAN: What? I can't hear you, what's the matter with you?
BANKHEAD: (snapping back to) Oh, Ethel, I'm fine, I'm all sweetness and light. Now let's not start any quarrels, shall we, darling? Can't we just chat without bickering about who's a better actress or who's older than whom?
MERMAN: That's OK with me. I don't like to bring up the age question.
BANKHEAD: Good. (Pregnant pause.) How are you doing in your wonderful musical comedy called Call Me Grandmother
---I mean Call Me Madam?
MERMAN: (cattily) Tallulah, you're starting---
BANKHEAD: Aahh, I'm sorry, darling, I-I-I didn't mean that. Please forgive me.
MERMAN: OK, and just to show you there's no hard feelings, I want to tell you how much I admire that gown you're wearing. Where'd you get it?
BANKHEAD: Thiiiiiiiiiis? Oh-oh, well, it's just an old sack.
MERMAN: I think it's very attractive.
BANKHEAD: Well, that's sweet, darling, but it's just an old sack.
MERMAN: All right, where'd you get that old sack?
BANKHEAD: (low voice) One, two---think it through . . . (normal voice) This old sack, as you call it, cost me $750.
MERMAN: Well! Potatoes are rather high, aren't they?
BANKHEAD: (low voice) Three, four---don't get sore . . .
MERMAN: I see they left some of the potatoes in the sack.
BANKHEAD: Those are not potatoes!

Neither one, of course, is really complaining, on a night where the music highlights include Merman and Rosemary Clooney; the comedy highlights include Milton Berle and Jimmy Durante; the drama includes Frank Lovejoy in a scene from his film (and, soon, radio show) I Was a Communist For the FBI; and, Gordon McRae with Bankhead, Berle, Durante, and Merman in a skit about NBC pageboys' Radio City studio tours, among other jewels on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Music: Meredith Willson Orchestra, the Big Show Chorus. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Greene, Frank Wilson.


1896---Harry McNaughton (actor/panelist: It's Higgins, Sir; It Pays to be Ignorant), Surbiton, U.K.
1899---Duke Ellington (as Edward Kennedy Ellington; jazz composer/pianist/bandleader: Jubilee; Orson Welles Theatre; The Story of Swing; New Year's Radio Dance Party, 1945-46), Washington, D.C.
1903---Richard Leibert (organist: Dick Liebert's Musical Revue; Organ Rhapsody), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Frank Parker (singer: The A&P Gypsies; The Jack Benny Program; The Frank Parker Show), New York City.
1904---Russ Morgan (bandleader: The Russ Morgan Orchestra), Scranton, Pennsylvania.
1912---Richard Carlson (actor: Lux Radio Theater); Albert Lea, Minnesota; Ian Martin (actor: Young Doctor Malone; Meet Corliss Archer), Glasgow; John McVane (NBC News World War II correspondent), Portland, Maine.
1914---Derek Guyler (actor: It's That Man Again), Wallasey, Merseyside, U.K.
1915---Donald Mills (singer, with the Mills Brothers: The Mills Brothers Show), Piqua, Ohio.
1919---Celeste Holm (actress: The House on Q Street, Great Scenes from Great Plays, Lux Radio Theater), New York City.

Monday, April 28, 2008

To the Mothers, Fathers, and Bewildering Offspring: The Way It Was, 28 April

28 APRIL 1932---Carlton Morse's One Man's Family premieres on NBC in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, joining the full NBC western network within three weeks and the nationwide network offerings by May 1933.

The first soap opera to originate from San Francisco---in both its scenic setting and its broadcast home---One Man's Family will hit the network with a condensed retrospective between May 1933-January 1934, in a bid to catch up the country with the Barbours' full story, according to The Big Broadcast: 1920-1950.

One Man's Family is dedicated to the mothers and fathers of the younger generation, and to their bewildering offspring.

---From the show's usual introduction, followed by episode introductions by book and chapter.

Contrary to standard soap practise of the day, One Man's Family is a half-hour, weekly offering, converting to daily fifteen-minute offerings only by 5 June 1950, remaining in that format until it leaves the air 8 May 1959. It will be the longest-running radio soap in American history, with J. Anthony Smythe playing patriarch Henry Barbour for the show's entire life and Marvin Miller playing twenty individual roles on the show, more than any other cast member.

Set in San Francisco's Seacliff area, the soap is written by creator Morse with Harlan Ware and Michael Raffetto. (Raffetto also plays eldest son Paul Barbour from inception through 1955.) Henry's wife, Fanny, will be played by Minetta Ellen from the show's inception through 1955.

Other significant cast will include numerous old-time radio stalwarts---including Bill Idelson (Vic & Sade), Janet Waldo (Meet Corliss Archer), Frank Porvo, Herb Butterfield (The Halls of Ivy), Eddie Firestone, Jr. (That Brewster Boy), Anne Whitfield (The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show), Sharon Douglas (The Life of Riley), Mary Jane Croft (Our Miss Brooks, not to mention the second Mrs. Elliott Lewis), Virginia Gregg (Dragnet), Page Gilman, Francis X. Yarborough (Dragnet), Ken Peters, Vic Perrin (Gunsmoke), Jay Novello (I Love a Mystery), Norman Fields, and Conrad Binyon (The Life of Riley).

One Man's Family will receive the supreme compliment by the late 1950s, when freewheeling comic improvisors Bob & Ray will satirise it in a periodic series they'll call One Fella's Family, continuing the satire even after the actual soap itself leaves the air.


1946: THE RACING FORM TRIAL---Don't bet on how Fred (Allen) and guest Bert Lahr got run into this rail, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

With Portland Hoffa. Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Falstaff: Alan Reed. Announcer: Kenny Delmar. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Nat Hiken, possibly Bob Weiskopf.

1950: SOMETHING FOR NOTHING---In northern California, a woman leaps desperately from a car about to jump a cliff, giving a drifter (William Conrad) driving the other way a blackmail opening after he witnesses the incident, on tonight's edition of Escape. (CBS.)

Cast: Unknown. Writers: Les Crutchfield, John Dunkel, from a novel by H.V. Dixon.

1950: THE SCOFIELD PRIZE---Merriweather (Willard Waterman) learns the hard way just how wrong he has it when he can't wait to tell Hall (Ronald Colman) he's won a prestigious literary prize---for a book Hall wasn't even sure his publisher would accept, on tonight's edition of The Halls of Ivy. (NBC.)

Victoria: Benita Hume Colman. Alice: Bea Benaderet. Wellman: Herbert Butterfield. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Writer: Don Quinn.


1874---Sidney Toler (actor: It's Time to Smile), Warrensburg, Missour.
1878---Lionel Barrymore (actor: Numerous radio productions of A Christmas Carol, usually as Scrooge; Dr. Kildare, Mayor of the Town, Our Hour of National Sorrow), Philadelphia.
1896---Edith Evanson (actress: Myrt & Marge), Tacoma, Washington.
1908---Micharl Fitzmaurice (actor: The Adventures of Superman, Stella Dallas), Chicago.
1929---Carolyn Jones (as Carolyn Sue Baker; actress: Dragnet, Survivors), Amarillo, Texas.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Hounds or the Foxes: The Way It Was, 27 April

27 APRIL 1952---The Chase, an anthology of mystery, drama, adventure, and fantasy/horror created by Lawrence Klee (Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons; The Clock), premieres on NBC.

MUSIC: Up, then under.
ANNOUNCER: The National Broadcasting Company invites you by transcription to join . . . The Chase.
MUSIC: Up, then under.
ANNOUNCER: In the animal world, there is the hunter . . . and the hunted. Hound and fox, hawk and sparrow, chicken and worm. We in the topmost species also join the hunt. But who of us is to judge precisely which of us are the hounds or foxes as we enter . . . The Chase.
MUSIC: Up, then stop.

---The show's usual introduction.

Fred Collins serves as the show's announcer, and the premiere episode features Karl Swenson, perhaps most familiar as the title character of the gently absurdist old-time radio comic soap Lorenzo Jones.

The Chase will last for fifty-nine episodes, often sharing casts with director Fred Weihe's X Minus One.


1943: THE DIARY OF SAPHRONIA WINTERS---A shy woman (Agnes Moorehead) who's anything but in her continuing diary thinks excitedly that her life is about to begin at age forty, with an interesting interesting fate "just around the corner" in the person of an interesting-looking man (Ray Collins) who excites her from the outset, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Lucille Fletcher.

1947: THE CRIMINAL MIND---Known also as "The Perfect Crime," the criminal mind proves to be a police lieutenant who thinks he has enough experience hunting and trapping it to bring off the perfect crime himself, on tonight's edition of The Clock. (ABC.)

Rex: Ken Wade. The Clock: Hart McGuire. Additional cast: John Millian, George Sterling, Joseph McCormick. Writer: Lawrence Klee.

1954: STUNG BY A WASP---The Squire of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) applies the absolute wrong technique for ridding the garage of a freshly built wasp nest, on today's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Herb Travis: Parley Baer. Man: Jack Mather. Announcers: John Wald, Don Wilson. Writers: Phil Leslie, Len Levinson.


1902---Harry Stockwell (singer: Broadway Matinee), Kansas City; Ned Wever (actor: Dick Tracy, Young Widder Brown), New York City.
1907---Matty Matlock (jazz musician: Pete Kelly's Blues), Paducah, Kentucky.
1933---Casey Kasem (as Kemal Amin Kasem; disc jockey/actor, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Detroit.
1937---Sandy Dennis (actress: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Hastings, Nebraska.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"You Didn't Need a Narrator to Know What Was Happening": The Way It Was, 26 April

1952---Despite (even defiant of) the beginning of the end of old-time radio drama, Gunsmoke---with mellifluous William Conrad as federal marshal Matt Dillon---premieres as a regular series on CBS, almost three years after it was auditioned for the first time.

For all that it is written and acted with an intelligence and an understated realism rare among old-time radio (and, in due course, televison) Westerns, however, what many critics and historians will seem to remember most about the show was its sound, for which Tom Hanley and Ray Kemper were responsible. Kemper in due course would tell the critic Leonard Maltin that he and his sonic partner credited producer Norman MacDonald with refusing to allow any "cheating" in creating and deploying the striking, realistic sound---right down to the rumbling hooves, spurs on the floorboards, and gunshots---that helped separate Gunsmoke from its predecessors and successors. (In truth, it is ridiculous to suggest the show has peers among the horse operas.)

If you walk from Point A to Point B and then you have to return, you should walk the same amount of steps. Most directors simply wouldn't allow it. They would say, 'Turn around and walk back,' and you'd go two steps and that's it, they're into the script again. And you couldn't convince them it was important to return the same amount of steps. Norm MacDonald, if you had a particular distance to walk, gave you the time to walk back again. Once in a great while we'd cheat if we were hurting for time, but most of the time he gave us all the time we needed.

---Ray Kemper, to Leonard Maltin, The Great American Broadcast. (New York: Dutton, 1997.)

When Marshal Dillon went out on the plains, you didn't need a narrator to know what was happening. You heard the faraway prairie wind and the dry squeak of Matt's pants against saddle leather . . . When Matt opened his jail cell door, you heard every key drop on the ring. When he walked the streets of Dodge, his spurs rang with a dull clink-clink, missing occasionally, and the hollow boardwalk echoed back as the nails creaked. Buckboards passed, and you heard them behind the dialogue, along with muted shouts of kids playing in an alley, and from the next block the inevitable dog was barking.

---John Dunning, from Tune In Yesterday. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1976.)

Still, the realistic, painstakingly produced sound is far from the sole reason why Gunsmoke will be remembered and respected far beyond its predecessors or successors---including, even, its comparatively tame television interpretation.

In radio, I think the show was more authentic. The original characters were more extreme. They've mellowed with age---maybe they mellowed too much. They didn't used to be quite so warm. Kitty was more of a madam, Doc was more of an abortionist, and Matt smoked big black cigars, drank rye whiskey, and very often a man rode into town who could shoot faster and straighter than Matt Dillon.

---Norman MacDonnell, comparing the radio and television versions of Gunsmoke, as cited by Gerald Nachman, in Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

With the writing produced mostly by Les Crutchfield, John Meston, and Marian Clark, Gunsmoke co-stars Parley Baer as Chester, Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell, and Howard McNear as Doc, until the western rides off radio and into the sunset in 1961---still leaving the listener's nose catching as close to the smell of gunsmoke as radio drama could bring.


1929: RAISING MONEY FOR LODGE RENOVATIONS---Andy (Charles Correll) and the Kingfish (Freeman Gosden) dream up a fundraiser to pay for renovating the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge building, which may not exactly set Amos's (also Freeman Gosden) mind entirely at ease when he hears the Kingfish's ideas, on tonight's edition of Amos 'n' Andy. (NBC.)

Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll.

1937: THE MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION---Robert Taylor (as Robert Merrick) and Irene Dunne (as Helen Phillips) shine in this adaptation of the soap operatic 1935 film, based upon the Lloyd C. Douglas novel about a reckless, gravely injured playboy---blaming himself for his doctors' being unable to reach and save a renowned surgeon---who swaps the high life for medical school, falls in love with the surgeon's widow, and obsesses on restoring her eyesight . . . the loss of which he caused in the first place, in another accident, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Otto Kruger: Pedro de Cordova. Writers: Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman, George O'Neil.

1939: SADE'S NEW LUGGAGE---Sade (Bernadine Flynn) has a challenge convincing skeptical Vic (Art Van Harvey) and Rush (Bill Idelson) just how remarkable is the new luggage set, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1948: THIRTEEN AND EIGHT---A newspaper photographer (Ernest Chappell, who narrates) can't prove someone was trying to get in the way of his attempt to photograph someone jumping out a high window---because the thirteen-and-eight (old-time newspeak for people trying to get in news photos just to be in the papers) doesn't turn up in anyone's photographs, including his own, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Additional cast: Murray Forbes, Ann Rankin. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.


1890---Edgar Kennedy (actor: Screen Guild Theater, Radio Reader's Digest), Monterey, California.
1905---Cecilia Parker (actress: Good News of 1939, Mail Call, Lux Radio Theater), Fort William, Ontario.
1906---A.L. Alexander (moderator: Goodwill Court, later known as The Court of Human Relations), Winthrop, Massachussetts.
1912---John McGovern (actor: The O'Neills), unknown.
1916---Vic Perrin (actor: One Man's Family, Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie, Mutual Radio Theater), Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin; Frances Robinson (actress: Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Let George Do It), Fort Wandsworth, New York.
1918---Helen Burgess (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Portland, Oregon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Death of a Diary: The Way It Was, 25 April

1969---Five thousand, five hundred and thirty one broadcasts after premiering in 1948, Mrs. Dale's Diary, Britain's first post-World War II old-time radio soap, airs for the final time, in an episode in which daughter Gwen Dale (Aline Waites) becomes engaged to a television producer (John Justin).

First aired on The Light Programme 5 January 1948, Mrs. Dale's Diary had a fan in the royal family---the Queen Mother herself, who was quoted once as saying the show was "the only way of knowing what goes on in a middle class family."

Set first in the Parkwood Hill suburb of Middlesex, then moved to Exton, the show's tone altered somewhat as its life went on, with the younger characters taking on a newer maturity and even social consciences.

Gwen, the popular daughter, was portrayed by Virginia Hewitt, Joan Newell, and Beryl Calder, before Aline Waites made the role hers for much of the soap's life.

Others were son Bob (Nicholas Parsons, Hugh Latimer, Derek Hart, and Leslie Heritage for nearly two decades); charwoman Mrs. Morgan (Grace Allardyce); her eventual husband, Mr. Maggs (Jack Howarth); grumpy neighbour Mrs. Mountford (Vivienne Chatterton); and, Mrs. Leathers, a Cockney acquaintance (Hattie Jacques).

Except for one brief interruption in the show's early years, the title character of Mrs. Dale's Diary belonged mostly to Ellis Powell, with Dr. Jim Dale played for the full life of the soap by Douglas Burbidge. Powell's early substitute, Thea Wells, stayed with the soap and took the more permanent role of Isobel Fielding.

Powell's years as Mrs. Dale were ended when, reportedly, the BBC sought to modernise the show further; she died not long after losing the role to Jessie Matthews, who---ironically enough---was haunted by her own health problems during her time on the show.

For Matthews, the ironies didn't end: According to British soap chronicler Roger Sansom, after Mrs. Dale's Diary ended at last, Matthews played a soap character who was a household name . . . until losing her role in a policy shakeup.


1874: BIRTH OF A FATHER---Guglielmo Marconi is born in Bologna; his future experiments in producing and detecting over long distances the radio waves discovered by Heinrich Hertz will launch the activities---including the world's first known successful commercial wireless company---that earn him the sobriquet "the father of radio."

1945: AUF WIEDERSEN---Radio 1212---the so-called "black propaganda" operation based at Radio Luxembourg (who turned its facilities over to the U.S. Army after the Grand Duchy had been liberated), operated by the U.S. Office of War Information's Psychological Warfare Division (supervised by CBS chief William S. Paley), whose mission it was to broadcast as though from Nazi Germany and gain an audience of loyal Nazis before using that influence against them---broadcasts for the final time.


1939: ROTTEN DAVIS TELEPHONES---There went the calm after dinner, interrupting leisurely Vic (Art Van Harvey) on the davenport, pondering Seattle; Sade (Bernadine Flynn) in the easy chair, pondering nothing in particular; and, Rush (Bill Idelson) pondering his old enemy algebra, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1944: HOPE AND CROSBY---Beware . . . it's not quite the Hope or Crosby you think, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (Blue Network.)

Miss Duffy: Helen Lynd. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Music: Peter van Steeden and His Orchestra. Writers: Ed Gardner, possibly Bob Schiller, others.

1944: TROUBLE OPENING THE PACKAGE---Merely receiving a mysterious package from Tennessee is nothing compared to that kind of trouble---especially with Lum (Chester Lauck) itching to get to whatever's inside and Abner (Norris Goff) thinking it isn't all that much to begin with, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (Blue Network.)

Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff, possibly Wedlock & Snyder.

1948: SCALPING BASEBALL TICKETS---For which your host and the then-manager (returning from suspension and not very long for his job as it was) of the Boys of Summer in waiting are brought to trial, after the Alley deminonde is compelled to ruminate on superstitions, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.)

Leo Durocher: Himself. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus Moody: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Bob Schiller, Nat Hiken.


1899---Guinn Williams (actor: Biography in Sound), Decatur, Texas.
1908---Edward R. Murrow (as Egbert Roscoe Murrow; newscaster/commentator, CBS), Pole Cat Creek, North Carolina.
1918---Ella Fitzgerald (jazz singer: Flow Gently, Sweet Rhythm, Jubilee, The Big Show), Newport News, Virginia.
1919---Albert Alley (actor: Hop Harrigan, Stella Dallas), New York City.
1921---Robert Q. Lewis (actor/comedian: The Horn and Hardardt Children's Hour, Arthur Godfrey Time, The Robert Q. Lewis Show, mr. ace and JANE), New York City.