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.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Breakfast is Severed: The Way It Was, 22 January

1954---Hoping it will prove as successful on the picture box as it has been on old-time radio, ABC simulcasts today’s edition of Don McNeil’s popular The Breakfast Club on television.

Hope springs infernal, alas. The show does not catch on on television in quite the way it would continue to do on radio for another fourteen years.


1925: SURREY WITH THE INFRINGEMENT ON TOP---Such is the message, for the most part, when a number of American radio writers and composers---many being members of the Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers---testify to Congress, a committee of which is probing the radio industry’s alleged infringement of writing and music copyrights.

Later in the year, in the third of three National Radio Conferences conducted between 1923 and 1925, a Copyright Committee concludes copyright owners are "entitled to reasonable compensation for the use of their copyrights, and the representatives of the broadcasting interests indicated a complete willingness to pay a reasonable charge for copyrighted [materials] used by them," but that broadcasters can’t use such materials, music especially, "except on prohibitive and unstable terms."

The committee will recommend that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who chairs the conference, propose federal legislation aimed at loosening such terms . . . without suggesting precisely how Hoover should write the proposal or what to leave in or out. Hoover himself will open the conference by stating, among other things, that the Commerce Department isn’t concerned directly with such issues as copyright, deeming them matters of "copyright, not radio."


I DEAL IN CRIME: THE LAURA SHIELDS CASE (ABC, 1946)---With such talk as a threat to tenderise a mug like a two-dollar ham does this crime drama, featuring William Gargan (Martin Kane, Private Eye) as investigator Ross Dolan, premiere with "the kind of a dame ya see only in a dream," a dark, wealthy wife, greeting him upon his discharge from the Navy and hiring him as a bodyguard---to stop her from killing her philandering husband. Additional cast: Unknown. Music: Skitch Henderson. Writer: Ted Hediger.

My name is Ross Dolan. And, in case you're inclined to say "so what," pull up a chair and listen to this: I've been a private investigator for ten years, except for a short hitch in Uncle Sugar's Navy . . .

---From the opening of the series premiere.

If you believe, I Deal in Crime "is a sleuth show of seismic scope. It has all the right stuff for a perfect detective show including gangs, dames, and descriptive narrative." But if you believe legendary New York Times critic Jack Gould . . .

[T]he script, most of which is a monologue, creeps along at a snail’s pace and boasts more than the accepted quota of the stock situations for the detective field. The central character of Ross Dolan would make any self-respecting gumshoe cringe, and matters are not helped by a rather lackadaisical performance by Mr. Gargan.

Perhaps it says enough to note that the most clever line in the premiere script is Dolan's withering, almost indifferent observation, "It was raining cats, dogs, and other forms of livestock."

FORT LARAMIE: PLAYING INDIAN (CBS, 1956)---A settler and his family are unsettled and wiped out by tribesmen in this premiere of a series whose creator, Norman MacDonnell, intends to have seeing and raising his earlier Gunsmoke for realism.

Casting film and old-time radio veteran (and future Perry Mason television star) Raymond Burr as cavalry captain Lee Quinn, MacDonnell---according to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group---insists that "historical accuracy was essential to the integrity of the series. Correct geographic names, authentic Indian practices, military terminology, and utilizing actual names of the original buildings of the real fort, was insisted upon. So when the radio characters referred to the sutler's store (which is what the trading post was called prior to 1870), the surgeon's quarters, Old Bedlam (the officers' quarters) or the old bakery, they were naming actual structures in the original fort."

MacDonnell also casts Vic Perrin as Sgt. Goerss and Jack Moyles as the fort's commanding officer, Maj. Daggett. Supporting players will come largely from the same pool of performers and writers (including John Meston, who writes tonight's premiere) MacDonnell has used on Gunsmoke. But perhaps familiarity breeds indifference---its quality notwithstanding, Fort Laramie will last on the air through 28 October 1956.

Note: Television's Laramie, which will premiere on NBC in 1958, run through 1963, hook around two brothers and a drifter establishing a successful stage line, and earn a reputation as one of the better executed Westerns on the tube, will have no connection to Fort Laramie.


THE LINIT BATH CLUB REVUE: THE COURT OF JUDGE ALLEN (CBS, 1933)---In perhaps his second-oldest surviving broadcast as a series star, Fred Allen holds court as a slightly off-center judge meting out inside-out justice. Cast: Portland Hoffa, Jack Smart, Helen Morgan, Roy Atwell, Mary Lou Dix. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Music: Ann Leaf, Charles Carlile. Writer: Fred Allen.

LUX RADIO THEATER: BACHELOR MOTHER (CBS, 1940)---‘Tis almost a month after Christmas, when Ginger Rogers (repeating her film role) and Frederic March (in David Niven’s film role) perform the first radio version of the holiday classic hooking around a fired store clerk mistaken to be the mother of a foundling, a mistake that alters her life come holiday time. Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Norman Krasna, based on a story by Felix Jackson.

INFORMATION, PLEASE: WITTY SUSPENSE? (NBC, 1943)---No less than Alfred Hitchcock is tonight's guest panelist. Host: Clifton Fadiman. Regular panel: Franklin P. Adams, John F. Kieran, Oscar Levant. Announcer: Ed Herlihy.

FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: IT'S FIBBER'S BIRTHDAY (NBC, 1954)---And, so far, the only greeting the Squire of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) has received is a gift and kiss from Molly (Marian Jordan), while the couple continues wrestling over the Citizen X contest and an odd proposition tied to it. Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Doris: Mary Jane Croft. Mug: Lou Krugman. Announcer: John Wald. Writer: Phil Leslie.


1878---Constance Collier (actress: Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy), Windsor, Berkshire, UK.
1893---Conrad Veidt (actor: Free World Theater), Potsdam.
1894---Rosa Ponselle (soprano: The Atwater-Kent Hour; Metropolitan Opera), Meriden, Connecticut.
1895---Ethel Everett Remey (actress: Young Widder Brown; By Kathleen Norris), unknown.
1899---Anne Elstner (actress: Stella Dallas; Wilderness Road), Lake Charles, Louisiana.
1909---Ann Sothern (as Harriet Lake; actress: Maisie), Valley City, North Dakota.
1920---William Warfield (bass-baritone: The Charlie McCarthy Show; Beyond Victory; Music for America), West Helena, Arkansas.
1924---J.J. Johnson (trombonist: The Arthur Godfrey Show; One Night Stand), Indianapolis.
1932---Piper Laurie (as Rosetta Jacobs; actress: Lux Radio Theater; NBC Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater), Detroit.


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