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.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"My Benediction is a Lead Bullet": The Way It Was, 3 March

The Siberian island to which the Russian Tsars sent political prisoners is the setting for this chilling yarn about a particularly cruel executioner (Raymond Edward Johnson) whose fiancee (possibly Betty Winkler) joins him making sport of his victims. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Arch Oboler.


1953: WHISPERING TRAVELS---Hooking largely around Hope Winslow, an author and traveler whose journeys and experiences provide the basis for much of its action and dialogue, Whispering Streets, a new half-hour soap opera, premieres on ABC radio.

Veteran radio soap actress Gertrude Warner, who once played the title roles in old-time radio soaps Ellen Randolph, Joyce Jordan, M.D. (formerly Joyce Jordan, Girl Intern) and Mrs. Miniver, plays Hope and narrates Whispering Streets. At the same time, she plays Pamela in Marriage for Two; her radio resume to this point also includes roles in soaps Against the Storm, The Right to Happiness, When a Girl Marries, and Young Doctor Malone, as well as such radio dramas as The Shadow (the third Margot Lane) and Perry Mason (as Della Street).

Whispering Streets will move to CBS in 1959 and stay there until 25 November 1960---when its final episode will become considered the curtain-closure for old-time radio soaps. For on that same day, CBS will cancel at last four other vintages: Ma Perkins, The Right to Happiness, Young Doctor Malone, and The Second Mrs. Burton.

Extremely few transcribed episodes of Whispering Streets survive for 21st Century old-time radio collectors, but some scripts from its 1958 season are believed to be among the SPERDVAC Collection at the University of Maryland's Library of American Broadcasting.

2008: THE GAMBLE ENDS . . . FOR NOW---The third generation of Gambling radio is no more---John R. Gambling, who succeeded his namesake father and grandfather as perhaps the longest-running single-family presence in the medium, tracing back among the oldest of old-time radio days in 1925, has been fired by New York WABC.

The third John Gambling has hosted a 10:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. weekday morning program, a shrinkage from the vintage morning-long Rambling with Gambling enterprise his grandfather had launched as a mix of pleasant chat and what we'd now call easy listening music. The New York Daily News said the reason for releasing the third Gambling was pure economics.

The fourth quarter and the year was difficult for the broadcasting industry and the company. The performance of the larger-market radio stations acquired in the ABC Merger was particularly disappointing.

---Farid Suleman, chairman of Citadel Broadcasting, which now owns WABC.

Gambling's father, Radio Hall of Famer John A. Gambling, whose achievements included radio's first known helicopter traffic and school closure reports, succeeded his father John B. Gambling in 1959, after the two men worked together a few years. The third of the Gamblings joined his father as co-host in 1985, working as a team until John A.'s 1991 retirement.

The original Rambling with Gambling format was ended in 2000, the same year John A. was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame. The 2003 Guiness Book of World Records called the show radio's longest-running, but that may have transposed the longevity of the Gamblings themselves. Radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, expanding on John Dunning's research, has noted that Rambling with Gambling moved to mornings---following its actual birth as a mid-day talk feature in 1942---as a lead-in to John B. Gambling's original morning show: a kind of "gym class" in which Gambling conducted exercises and bantered wittily, accompanied by the Vincent Sorey orchestra. (Gambling had succeeded publisher Bernarr McFadden hosting the exercise show, whose format was created by Arthur Bagley.)

John R. Gambling, however, would prove not to be off air for very long . . .


FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY: BOOMER'S SUITCASE (NBC, 1942)---After ninety days' absence on government work, Horatio K. Boomer (Bill Thompson) leaves a suitcase with the McGees (Jim and Marian Jordan)---a suitcase full of what they fear to be stolen booty, when the suitcase cracks open accidentally, provoking a panicked phone call and a possible lawsuit. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. Teeny: Marian Jordan. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Himself: Harlow Wilcox (announcer). Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writer: Don Quinn. (Includes a mid-show announcement that the show is to be sent by delayed shortwave broadcast to American troops around the world for the rest of the season.)

BOSTON BLACKIE: THE COBBS TRUCKING COMPANY (MUTUAL; SYNDICATION BY ZIV, 1948)---It has a major problem when a partner turns up missing after catching onto an in-house hijack and fence operation. Blackie: Richard Kollmer. Mary: Jan Minor. Faraday: Maurice Tarplin.

THE HALLS OF IVY: THE FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD GENIUS IN LOVE WITH VICTORIA (NBC, 1950)---Hall (Ronald Colman) offers solace to a prodigy Merton Savada (Barney Phillips) who begins cutting classes and spending long nights writing love poems---at least, he does until the boy reveals the real object of his affections and verse. Victoria: Benita Hume Colman. Additional cast: Henry Blair, Gloria Gordon. Writer: Don Quinn.


1890---Edmund Lowe (actor: Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt), San Jose, California.
1902---Ruby Dandridge (actress: Gallant Heart; The Judy Canova Show), Memphis, Tennessee.
1906---Donald Novis (actor: Jumbo Fire Chief Program), Hastings, U.K.
1911---Jean Harlow (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Kansas City.
1915---John Nelson (host: Bride and Groom; Know Your NBCs; Live Like a Millionaire), unknown.
1920---James Doohan (actor: You Never Had It So Good), Vancouver, B.C.
1921---Diana Barrymore (actress: Crime Does Not Pay), New York City.
1924---Cathy Downs (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Mail Call), Port Jefferson, New York; Barbara Jean Wong (actress: Cinnamon Bear), Los Angeles.
1937---Bobby Driscoll (actor: A Day in the Life of Dennis Day; Family Theater), Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


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