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.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Roll On, Columbia: The Way It Was, 3 January

1929---Over two full years after he bought it from the Columbia Phonographic Manufacturing Company, a sale consummated days after it hit the air over sixteen former United Independent Broadcasters stations including WOR in Newark, William S. Paley formally incorporates the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).


1938---Woman in White, an Irna Phillips-created old-time radio soap opera, tracking the romance between nurse Karen Adams and surgeon Kirk Harding, with the usual tribulations within and surrounding them, premieres on NBC. Perhaps uniquely, the soap is an explicit successor to an earlier Phillips creation, Today's Children, which Phillips ended upon the death of her mother.

Luise Barclay plays Karen Adams when the soap premieres; the role will be played subsequently by Betty Ruth Smith, Betty Lou Gerson, and Peggy Knudsen. Karl Weber premieres as Kirk Harding; the role will be taken over subsequently by Arthur Jacobson. Sponsored in its original life by Pillsbury, Camay soap, and Oxydol detergent, the show will leave NBC for CBS in 1940.

Woman in White was a companion piece to Irna Phillips's Road of Life, the two among the first serials to explore the world of doctors and nurses. But Woman in White would have two distinct runs, separated by two years and featuring different casts of characters . . . Though highly popular, with ratings in the 8-point range, Woman in White was discontinued by Phillips after the broadcast of Sept. 24, 1942.

It returned in name only in 1944. Now it was the story of nurse Eileen Holmes and her love interest, Dr. Paul Burton. A few characters were continued from the old storyline, but the main focus was now on Eileen and Paul. This was a time of experimentation for Phillips: she had sold a 60-minute block of serial time to General Mills, to be heard on NBC as The General Mills Hour and consisting of three interrelated soaps with crossover characters and a master of ceremonies to guide listeners through the labyrinth. Listeners thus heard Dr. Paul Burton of Woman in White appear frequently on The Guiding Light, with emcee Ed Prentiss providing the verbal bridges. Like the original Woman in White, this originated in Chicago. It moved to Hollywood in 1947.

John Dunning, in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. (Oxford University Press, 1998.)

The second life of Woman in White will end in 1948.


TEXACO STAR THEATER WITH FRED ALLEN: ONE LONG PAN V. MR. MOTO (CBS, 1943)---Jimmy Wallington returns to the announcer's stand, and the master proposes a sleuthing competition mystery to guest Peter Lorre. Cast: Portland Hoffa, Kenny Baker, John Smart, Parker Fennelly, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame. Writers: Fred Allen, Sol Saks, Bob Weiskopf.

THE WHISTLER: THE WEAKLING (CBS, 1943)---A district attorney's spineless son (possibly Elliott Lewis), who's lost his driver's licence for reckless driving, is blackmailed by the family chauffeur (possibly Wally Maher), after he brushes the chauffeur off and takes his girl (possibly Cathy Lewis)---the daughter of a racketeer his father wants to nail---for a fatal drive on an ocean highway. Marsha: Possibly Betty Lou Gerson. Additional cast. Unknown. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer: J. Donald Wilson.

THE HALLS OF IVY: PROFESSOR BARRETT'S PLAY (NBC, 1951)---An old fraternity brother (Elliott Lewis), now in television offers reluctant Hall (Ronald Colman) six figures for the rights to the college's football games---then sweetens the pot by inviting Hall to host a concurrent dramatic series when learning he's reading a campus professor's (Norman Fields) new play. Victoria: Benita Hume Colman. Wellman: Herb Butterfield. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Writers: Robert Sinclair, Walter Brown Newman, Don Quinn


1886---Josephine Hull (actress: Miss Julia; The O'Neills), Newtonville, Massachussetts.
1897---Marion Davies (as Marion Douras; actress: Lux Radio Theater), Brooklyn.
1898---John Loder (actor: Crime Does Not Pay; Silver Theater), London; Zasu Pitts (comedian: Lum & Abner; Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou), Parsons, Kansas; Freddie Rich (bandleader: Friendly Five Footnotes; The George Jessel Show; The Abbott & Costello Show), Warsaw.
1905---Ray Milland (actor: Meet Mr. McNutley; Lux Radio Theater; Suspense), Neath, Wales.
1907---Anna Mae Wong (actress: Campbell Playhouse; Hollywood Hotel), Los Angeles.
1909---Victor Borge (pianist/comedian: The Victor Borge Show; Kraft Music Hall), Copenhagen.
1916---Betty Furness (actress: Casey, Crime Photographer; Philco Radio Playhouse), New York City.
1918---Maxene Andrews (singer, with the Andrews Sisters: The Andrews Sisters Revue), Minneapolis; Jesse White (actor: Hollywood Radio Theater; Sears Radio Theater), Buffalo, New York.


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