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.

Monday, May 25, 2009

By the Number: The Way It Was, 25 May

Whether this proves at long enough last to be the all-time old-time radio dramatic exercise, for all its endurance and reputation and for all the riveting quality in the lead performance, will prove far more debatable than its fans might suspect.

Easily the most famous of all Suspense plays was on the face of it a straight murder story . . . It horrified the nation when it was first heard(;) the effect was potent despite an actor's gaffe at the most critical moment, when the "killer" missed his cue and for many listeners left the outcome in doubt . . .

Sorry transcended Suspense and was widely perceived to be the most effective radio show ever. In the continuing hyperbolic fallout, Orson Welles proclaimed it the greatest show of all time. It was repeated seven times over the years, the first repeat (by popular demand and because of the flawed performance in the original) coming just three months later. By its fourth airing, in 1945, the show had taken on the characteristics of an urban legend. People within the industry asked for permission to watch (neither [William] Spier nor his successors allowed a studio audience, and by air time the soundstage was crowded with onlookers . . .

Sorry, Wrong Number was always a high spot for listeners and a headace for the phone company, which could count on a spate of calls condemning the insensitivity of its operators. The company protested, to no avail.

---John Dunning, from On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (New York: Oxford University Press; 822 pages, $55.00)

And that high spot involved bedridden Mrs. Elbert Stevenson (Agnes Moorehead), whose husband is missing, panicks when she overhears two men on the telephone plotting the murder of a woman, timing the crime to coincide with a New York elevated train passing her window, and she can't convince anyone else she's heard the plot, which proves a particularly jarring happenstance when she realises just whose murder she heard being planned.

Additional cast: Unknown. Writer: Lucille Fletcher.


DUFFY'S TAVERN: ED WYNN NARRATES ARCHIE'S OPERA (NBC, 1949)---And it's even money who'll be less the same, the veteran comedian or opera. Archie: Ed Gardner. Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Possibly Sandra Gould. Writers: Ed Gardner, possibly Larry Rhine, possibly Bob Schindler.


1892---Bennett Cerf (narrator: Biography in Sound), New York City.
1907---Barbara Luddy (actress: The Road of Life; The Woman in White), Helena, Montana.
1908---Linda Watkins (actress: Amanda of Honeymoon Hill; Big Guy; The Fat Man), Boston.
1913---Richard Dimbley (first known BBC radio reporter), Richmond-on-Thames.
1916---Kenin O'Morrison (actor: Charlie Wild, Private Detective), St. Louis; Ginny Simms (singer/actress: The Ginny Simms Show; Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge), San Antonio.
1917---Steve Cochran (actor: Voice of the Army; Unexpected; Screen Director's Playhouse), Eureka, California.
1918---Henry Calvin (actor: Big Guy), Dallas.
1919---Lindsey Nelson (sportscaster: Monitor Preview; Biography in Sound; original team leader, New York Mets baseball), Campbellsville, Tennessee.
1921---Kitty Kallen (singer: Kitty Kallen Calling; Harry James and His Music Makers), Philadelphia.
1925---Jeanne Crain (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Hallmark Playhouse), Barstow, California.
1929---Beverly Sills (as Belle Miriam Silverman; soprano: Major Bowes' Capitol Family/Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour), Brooklyn.


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