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.
---broadcastellan.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Amazing, Mr. Malone! The Way It Was, 11 January

1946---About.com says that one Murder and Mr. Malone first hit the air on ABC in 1947. Frank Buxton and Bill Owen’s The Big Broadcast 1920-1950 lists one Murder and Mr. Malone premiering on ABC a year earlier. But the book also lists one The Amazing Mr. Malone premiering on ABC a year later.

And the thing of it is that all three could be right. You make the call.

This much I could determine: The series is based on the John J. Malone novels by Craig Rice (the pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig), featuring a hard-boiled attorney who seemed a) to wish he were really a private investigator; and, b) a little less likely to be boiling courtrooms and criminals than to be getting boiled at the local saloon.

Basically, he is something of a screwball hardboil, so it seems. On radio, Mr. Malone features Eugene Raymond, Frank Lovejoy, and George Petrie in the title role. (Petrie becomes known later for numerous character roles on television, including several on The Honeymooners---most notably Ralph Kramden’s fellow bus driver Freddie Mueller---before becoming a semi-regular as J.R. Ewing’s corrupt attorney Harv Smithfield on Dallas.)

Rice herself will write the show with help from Gene Wang, with Jack Robinson handling sound effects and Bill Rousseau directing. As best as can be determined, the show will run for a year on ABC and a separate year (1951) on NBC, as well as having one crack at television. (1951-52, ABC, with Lee Tracy in the title role and Petrie in a supporting role.)

In one way, the show has had an earlier radio audition. One of the Malone stories brought to film is 1945’s Having a Wonderful Crime, for RKO, starring Pat O’Brien as Malone with George Murphy and Carole Landis as his buddies Jake and Helene Justis. Having a Wonderful Crime is also adapted for The Old Gold Comedy Theater---the short-lived series directed by silent screen comedy legend Harold Lloyd---airing on NBC 3 June 1945, with O'Brien reprising his film role but Tom Conway and June Dupree taking the Justis roles. It was The Old Gold Comedy Theater's next-to-last show of the series.

AIRWAVES . . .

1927: PLAYHOUSE 242---The Royale Theater in New York City opens for business, at 242 W. 45th St. Designed by Herbert J. Krapp, trademarked by a vaulted ceiling and the Willy Pogany mural Lovers of Spain, the Royale is built for dramas and small-scale stage musicals but will also be used as an old-time radio studio by CBS in the 1930s.

The Shuberts will acquire control from the Martin Chanin family in 1929 and allowed CBS to use the Royale, before the Shuberts give the radio shows the hook and restore the Royale strictly to live theater in 1941.

A number of famous productions, many of which will win awards and legend alike, will play the Royale, whose first known hit was 1928’s Diamond Lil with Mae West. Subsequent successes on the Royale stage will include Night of the Iguanas (1961; a Tony for Margaret Leighton), The Subject Was Roses (1964; the play won a Pulitzer and co-star Frank Albertson bagged a Tony), Child’s Play (1970; Tonys for co-stars Fritz Weaver and Ken Howard), and Conversations With My Father (1992; a Tony for Judd Hirsch).

Twenty-two years after the Shuberts ho-heave radio out of the Royale, classic radio will return, sort of. Abe Burrows will make his bones writing for Duffy’s Tavern before becoming a Broadway legend; he will write 1965's Cactus Flower, starring Lauren Bacall, Barry Nelson, and Brenda Vaccaro for 1,234 Royale performances, and spawning the film that makes a bankable screen star out of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In cast comedienne Goldie Hawn.

CHANNEL SURFING . . .

DUFFY'S TAVERN MAKING A MOVIE (CBS, 1946)---Writing a script to film his life story is one thing, but Archie (Ed Gardner) finds raising the money to make the movie is something else, even with guest Larry Storch impersonating all the characters to impress investors. Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Music: Marty Malneck Orchestra. Writers: Ed Gardner, possibly Larry Marks and Bill Manhoff.

ONE MAN'S FAMILY: BOOK 82, CHAPTER 9---CLIFFORD PLANS A PARTNERSHIP (NBC, 1951)---But first Clifford (Barton Yarborough) talks Paul (Michael Raffetto) and Claudia (Barbara Fuller) into a foursome for dancing to pitch the idea. Writer: Carlton E. Morse

PREMIERING TODAY . . .

1886---George Zucco (actor: Encore Theater), Manchester, UK.
1899---Eva Le Gallienne (actress: Civic Repertory Theater; Lux Radio Theater), London.
1902---Charles Nehlsen (engineer, WLS Chicago: recorded Herbert Morrison's spot report of the Hindenburg tragedy---"Get this, Charlie, get this, Charlie!"---1937), unknown.
1908---Lionel Stander (actor: Town Hall Tonight; The Eddie Cantor Show; The Lincoln Highway Radio Show; The Life of Riley; The Danny Kaye Show; The Jack Paar Show), Bronx, New York.
1910---Red Barry (as Donald Barry; actor: All Star Western Theater; Forecast; Lux Radio Theater), Houston; Richard Kendrick (actor: Portia Faces Life), Vermillion, South Dakota; Betty Miles (actress: A Day in the Life of Dennis Day), Santa Monica, California.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jeffrey Marks said...

Actually, it's Georgiana Randolph Craig, and the series had many iterations in the late 1940s.

There's more about Rice, Malone and the radio series in my biography of Rice, Who Was That Lady?

5:38 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Jeffrey---Makes you wonder how diligent a lot of source material compilers can be, no? Meanwhile, you're getting me tempted to read your book!---Jeff

7:26 PM  

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