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, April 07, 2009

For Mrs. McGee: The Way It Was, 7 April

It's even money which is worse---McGee (Jim Jordan) having the problem in the first place, or Molly (Marian Jordan) having to listen to just about anyone's suggestions for remedies. Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Additional cast: Mary Lee Hansen. Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.


1961: AU REVOIR, MRS. McGEE---The coal miner's daughter whose career as her husband's comedic companion reputedly began on a bet with her brother-in-law goes to her reward too soon for island earth today---Marian Jordan, who once fought a battle against alcoholism that would be known barely if at all until after her death---finally loses a valiant fight against cancer at age 61.

Still charming listeners as half an American old-time radio (and otherwise) institution---the patiently loving wife of foible-prone Fibber McGee---she played her patient, honey-natured alter ego from 1935 practically until her death. Long a weekly half-hour comic exercise, Fibber McGee & Molly, changed in 1953 to a daily fifteen-minute, semi-serial comedy sans studio audience and orchestral interludes, often recorded in one or two days to enable her proper rest. (This, ironically, was well enough after a small preponderance of classic fifteen-minute serial comedies---Amos 'n' Andy, Easy Aces, Vic & Sade, Lum & Abner---tried converting to half-hour weeklies, only Amos 'n' Andy showing staying power if not quite its former genius in the new format.)

Only when her health turned irrevocably for the worse did the McGees---by then an old-time radio institution who could have gone on interminably (they were believed on the threshold of signing a new three-year NBC deal when her illness worsened in 1959, by which time they were down to five-minute segments on NBC's legendary weekend block Monitor)---leave entirely the medium through which they amused and charmed a country for twenty-four years.

I said it for her husband, and I will repeat it for her, with no apologies:

Small town without being small or narrowly humoured. A half-dreaming, half-scheming, never malicious husband, brought firmly but gently to earth by a tartly loving wife and a host of neighbours who rattled but never really rolled him. Resplendent enough in the old virtues and verities without collapsing in preachiness or under saccharine or sap, defying and transcending time.

And funnier than hell.


LUX RADIO THEATER: STAND-IN (CBS, 1941)---Adapted from the 1937 film farce, based on the Clarence Budington Kelland novel, about efficiency expert Atterbury Dodd (Walter Baxter, in the Leslie Howard film role), who discovers filmmaking isn't exactly easy to compress into his usual mathematical rigidity. Lester Plum (film role by Joan Blondell): Joan Bennett. Douglas Quintain (film role by Humphrey Bogart): Hans Conreid. Adapted from a screenplay by Gene Towne and C. Graham Baker.

THE HALLS OF IVY: TODDY PLAYS HOOKEY (NBC, 1950)---All Dr. Hall (Ronald Colman) wants is one day's loafing on a beautiful day, and all he and Victoria (Bonita Hume Colman) seem to get is several reasons why they can't sneak out either their front or rear doors. Eddie: Gil Stratton, Jr. Professor Quincanon: Frank Martin. Writers: Don Quinn, Walter Brown Newman.

BOB & RAY PRESENT THE CBS RADIO NETWORK: CANDY, DEBATE, AND HACKSAW (DON'T TELL ME, LET ME GUESS, 1960)---Wally Ballou reports from the Lucy Luscious Candy Factory in Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate debates his rival at the Interstellar Space Academy; and, Webley Webster and his players act a segment from The Hacksaw Manual. Writers (it is alleged): Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding.


1893---Irene Castle (panelist: Twenty Questions), New Rochelle, New York.
1895---Frank Wheeler (comedian: The Frank Sinatra Show, The New Old Gold Show), Paterson, New Jersey.
1897---Walter Winchell (host: Lucky Strike Dance Hour; commentator, various programs but especially Jergen's Journal), New York City.
1899---Robert Casaseus (pianist: The Bell Telephone Hour), Paris.
1901---Gavin Gordon (actor: Brenthouse), Chicora, Mississippi.
1908---Percy Faith (conductor: The Carnation Contented Hour, The Pause That Refreshes On the Air), Toronto, Ontario.
1915---Stanley Adams (writer: My Friend Irma, The Mel Blanc Show), New York City.
1916---Anthony Caruso (actor: This Is Your FBI), Frankfort, Indiana.
1918---Peanuts Hucko (as Michael Andrew Hucko; clarinetist: Swing Shift, Doctor Jazz), Syracuse, New York.


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