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, February 25, 2009

Your Flop Parade, Revisited: The Way It Was, 25 February

Smoky Peggy Lee actually puts a little subtle, resuscitating fire into such an otherwise dry chestnut as "Golden Earrings"; then, some good-natured banter between Der Dimple and Der Bingle telegraphs the pair taking up a set similar to one he did with Dinah Shore some weeks back: a round of forgotten pop songs called Your Flop Parade, Lee's subtly suggestive style a pleasant contrast to Crosby's easygoing style . . . and it almost atones for the slightly recycled jokes. (You can have fun recalling which earlier comedians first deployed some of the lines where.) Almost.

Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: John Scott Trotter Orchestra, the Rhythmaires.


1923: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE 4077th---Before helping a certain mobile Army surgical hospital graduate from film to television as one of its co-creators and writers for its first four seasons, he would make his bones putting numerous old-time radio audiences to laughter by way of his writing for Maxwell House Coffee Time (when it was the seedbed for Fanny Brice and Baby Snooks), Duffy's Tavern, Command Performance (the Armed Forces Radio Service variety series), The Eddie Cantor Show, The Jack Carson Show, and The Bob Hope Show.

Just so long as you were okay with Larry Gelbart's having to be born in the first place---as he was today.

And he would prove a kind of anomaly when he began writing for radio---being sixteen years old at the time.

A fellow from the William Morris Agency named George Gruskin said that if I wanted to do more, he thought I had a future. He arranged for [Duffy's Tavern star/co-creator/co-writer] Ed Gardner to take a chance. He signed me, and got me a position on Duffy's Tavern at $50 a week . . .

I saw [Gardner] once reading some material that one of the people he'd hired had written, and he read the first page and said, "This stinks, this is really terrible." And he called the guy up and fired him on the phone. And then read the next page and liked that, called him back and rehired him . . . He was a piece of work . . . [but] I will say this---his eccentricities didn't get in the way of his selectivity. He was . . . the best editor for that show, of anybody around. He really knew the characters.

---On Ed Gardner and Duffy's Tavern, to Jordan R. Young for The Laugh Crafters. (Beverly Hills, California: Past Time Publishing, 1999.)

I remember once writing a sketch for George Burns and Gracie Allen---and being told that Burns wouldn't do anything unless his own writers did it, because only they knew how to write for them. So I just put Paul Henning's name on it when I sent it over, and George said, "Fine. Good. I'll do it."---On writing for a Burns & Allen appearance on Command Performance, to Young.

Larry Gelbart once said the definitive line about the painful side of bringing in a musical comedy. At this time he was out of town with the tryout of his first show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, for which he had written the libretto. Larry's tryout was taking place at the same time Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal, was on trial in Israel. There was a great deal of talk about how Eichmann should be punished. Hanging? Firing squad? Poison? Larry Gelbart said, "I know what they should do with Eichmann. They should send him on the road with the tryout of a musical."

---Abe Burrows (who called Gelbart "a real find" when the lad was hired for Duffy's Tavern), from his memoir, Honest Abe: Is There Really No Business Like Show Business?. (Boston: Atlantic Little, Brown, 1980.)


FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: FIBBER'S BOTTLE COLLECTION (NBC, 1942)---Pack rat McGee (Jim Jordan) hopes the collection bottles up a nice little profit for himself when he takes it downtown. (Teeny on a rebate: "It's when ya put another worm on the hook.") Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. The Old-Timer: William Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

THE MEL BLANC SHOW: THE COMEDY TEAM (CBS, 1947)---That's what Mel (Blanc) thinks will entertain a visiting caliph, well enough to impress Betty's (Mary Jane Croft) father (Joseph Kearns)---and perhaps enough that the old man'll let Mel take Betty to the upcoming big dance. Additional cast: Hans Conreid, Alan Reed, Joe Walker. Music: Victor Miller Orchestra, the Sportsmen Quartet. Writer: Mack Benoff.


1879---Frank McIntyre (actor: Maxwell House Showboat), Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1901---Zeppo Marx (as Herbert Marx; actor: American Review), Yorkville, New York.
1906---Warren Hymer (actor: Screen Guild Theatre), New York City.
1912---Richard Wattis (actor: Brothers-in-Law), Wednesbury, U.K.
1913---Jim Backus (actor: The Alan Young Show, Sad Sack), Cleveland.
1917---Brenda Joyce (actress: Stars Over Hollywood, American Showcase), Kansas City.
1927---Dickie Jones (actor: The Aldrich Family), Snyder, Texas.
1938---Diane Baker (actress: CBS Radio Mystery Theatre), Hollywood.


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