Swing Longhair, Sweet Chariot: The Way It Was, 11 February
1940: NO DOUBT WORLD FAMOUS---With the swing era at its absolute peak and many swing bands turning classical selections into swingers or at least swing ballads (Freddy Martin's "Tonight We Love," mulcted from Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, would probably become only the biggest of such hits), it might be thought only natural for a swinging lampoon of the classics---or, at least, the manner in which classical music was presented on air.
So, too, must have thought The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, which premieres today on NBC Blue.
Good evening, lovers of fine music. Welcome to the no-doubt world-famous Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, and another concert dedicated to the perpetuation of the three B's - barrelhouse, boogie-woogie, and the blues.---The show's usual introduction.
They keep the satire in the presentation---and even deploy willing, longtime Metropolitan Opera broadcast announcer Milton Cross as its own announcer, Cross getting the desired effect by delivering the barbed introductions in his most sober style.
The show presents some of the best rhythm music, especially rhythm treatments of classical extracts, and often ignoring racial barriers---jazz pioneers Jelly Roll Morton and Earl (Fatha) Hines, folk/blues legend Huddie Ledbetter (better known as Leadbelly), jazz and stage legend Lena Horne, and Hot Lips Levine (who was also one of the show's bandleaders) were just as likely to perform as Jane Pickens and a soon-to-be-famous band and solo singer who got her actual launch with this show: Dinah Shore.
Levine and Paul LaValle will lead the show's house orchestras; future Quiet, Please narrator Ernest Chappell will be one of its supporting players, and future Green Hornet and (in the television era) New York St. Patrick's Day Parade anchor Jack McCarthy will appear regularly as Dr. Giacomo.
Among the guests who appeared on the program were the duo-piano team of Henry Brant and Richard Baldwin, who played the first swing treatment of Haydn's Surprise Symphony; and, harpsichordist Sylvia Marlowe, who played Mozart's Turkish March, retitled "Old Man Mozart on the Mooch."---Frank Buxton and Bill Owen, from The Big Broadcast 1920-1950. (New York: Avon, 1971.)
Cross will also inspire Dinah Shore's first nickname, when he describes her as "start[ing] a fire by rubbing two notes together," provoking Shore's early designation as "The One-Woman Torchlight Parade."
The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street will enjoy a twelve-season run.
CHANNEL SURFING . . .
THE AMOS 'N' ANDY SHOW: THREE TIMES, YOU'RE OUT (CBS, 1944)---It ain't at the old ball game, kiddies, as Andy (Charles Correll) will learn to his bewilderment after missing the previous lodge meeting or two. Co-stars: Freeman Gosden, Ernestine Wade, Amanda Randolph, Harriett Widmar, Elinor Harriot, Terry Howard, Madeline Lee, Lou Lubin, Eddie Green, and Johnny Lee. Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll.
MY FAVOURITE HUSBAND: VALENTINE'S DAY (CBS, 1949)---It's hard enough for Liz (Lucille Ball) to make diffident George (Richard Denning) think of Valentine's Day as more than just another commercial racket, without her valentine to him getting switched with the butcher bill. Co-stars: Gale Gordon, Bea Benaderet, Hans Conreid, Ruth Perrot. Writers: Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh.
BOB & RAY PRESENT THE CBS RADIO NETWORK: THE ARMED FORCES HUMOUR MAGAZINE (WE WON'T SQUEAL IF YOU DON'T, 1960)---If you don't ask, they don't tell, until or unless a corporal recalls day one in the bunks and a captain recalls flying a B-29 with one engine. Writers, we're reasonably certain: Bob Elliot, Ray Goulding.
PREMIERING TODAY . . .
1908---Philip Dunne (director: Lux Radio Theater), New York City.
1909---Max Baer (Sr.) (boxer-turned-actor: Lucky Smith), Omaha, Nebraska; Joseph L. Mankiewicz (writer/director: Theatre Guild on the Air, Lux Radio Theater), Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
1920---Billy Halop (actor: Bobby Benson's Adventures, Home Sweet Home), New York City.
1926---Leslie Nielsen (actor: Jive Patrol), Regina, Saskatchewan.