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.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You're Gonna Be a Bii-iiig Star, Mr. Gildersleeve: The Way It Was, 16 May

"The Johnson Wax program with . . . Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve" is precisely the way Harlow Wilcox announces it, to kick off the audition program for old-time radio's first successful spinoff show.

Here, the stentorian Gildersleeve (Harold Peary, in the role he's made a hit on Fibber McGee & Molly) bids a slightly pompous farewell to his girdle-making company employees---while leaving unanswered forever just what was to become of his unheard but often-mentioned wife---before boarding a train from Wistful Vista to Summerfield.

He's become the unexpected designated executor for his late brother- and sister-in-law's estate . . . and, concurrently, the designated guardian to their two precocious children, Evelyn (Lurene Tuttle) and Leroy (Walter Tetley) Forrester---assuming local family court Judge Hooker, who's Gildersleeve's equal for ornery, can be reversed when he demands a large cash bond in a battle of wits that just might mean two halfwits equal one well-intentioned dimwit.

Evelyn Forrester, of course, will be renamed Marjorie when the show is picked up as a regular series---as The Great Gildersleeve. And, with a slight nip and tuck of this Leonard Levinson script's story, this will be the basic episode writers John Whedon and Sam Moore will present as The Great Gildersleeve, when it premieres as a regular series come August, under the Kraft Cheese Company's regular sponsorship.


1925: THE HORSY SET IS ON THE AIR---At least, those members who happened to be three years old and in the Churchill Downs starting gates for the Kentucky Derby, which is broadcast over a radio network for the first time, based from Louisville's WHAS.


THE GOLDBERGS: MOLLY, ROSALIE, AND JAKE TALK (CBS, 1941)---With Sylvia's (Zina Provendie) deceptions proving too much even for her father (who's slapped her out of abject frustration and since regrets it, though he hungers for the whole truth), and the Goldbergs determined to get out of town fast and with wounded Sammy (Alfred Ryder) in tow, what Sylvia's father did may prove nothing compared to a showdown with the redoubtable Molly (Gertrude Berg). Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer/director: Gertrude Berg.

VIC & SADE: UNCLE FLETCHER'S DOOR STOP PLAN (CBS, 1941)---As conveyed by Rush (Bill Idelson) to a disbelieving Sade (Bernadine Flynn), it involves selling as door stops . . . chunks of railroad track, samples of which he plans to give the Gooks, the Stenbottoms, the Donahoes, and the Stenbottoms' landlady. Vic: Art Van Harvey. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writer: Paul Rhymer.

TEXACO STAR THEATER WITH FRED ALLEN: CHILE (CBS, 1943)---Allen's Alley addresses raising chickens during a meat-rationing period, and a freshly-rising solo singer named Sinatra has to be convinced to sing a newly-written song ("Every schnook I meet thinks he's a songwriter!"), possibly before he'll be allowed to sing "She's Funny That Way." Additional cast: Portland Hoffa, John Brown, Charles Cantor, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed, Jimmy Wallington. Music: Al Goodman and His Orchestra, Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame. Writers: Fred Allen, Harry Tugend, Nat Hiken.


1882---Mary Gordon (actress: Those We Love; Sherlock Holmes), Glasgow, Scotland.
1905---Henry Fonda (actor: Eyes Aloft; Romance; Suspense; Family Theater), Grand Island, Nebraska.
1909---Margaret Sullavan (actress: Electric Theater; Hollywood Playhouse; Lux Radio Theater), Norfolk, Virginia.
1912---Studs Terkel (as Louis Terkel; journalist/occasional actor: Desintation Freedom; Ma Perkins), Bronx, New York.
1913---Woody Herman (as Woodrow Charles Herman, clarinetist/bandleader: The Wildroot Show; various radio remotes), Milwaukee.


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