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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Question Man: The Way It Was, 18 June

Radio's intended answer to "The Answer Man," of course, which figures . . . considering he's the critical entry on tonight's edition of the cantankerous comedian's nervy half-hour.

Cast: Arnold Stang, Florence Halop, Madaline Lee, Art Carney. Music: Bernie Green and His Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Aaron Ruben, Joseph Stein.


1905, 1908---Two old-time radio mainstays share a birthday, if not a birth year.

Clayton Johnson Heermance, Jr. (New York City, 1908) will become the announcer---first, as Clayton Collyer, and then as the more familiar Bud Collyer (adopting his mother's maiden name)---for The Goldbergs and Cavalcade of America, not to mention the star of The Adventures of Superman . . . a role he will refuse when offered for the show's adaptation to television, because he will believe his age and actual physical image do not lend itself to the sleek superhero.

Not that Collyer will lack for a television life: in time, he'll become known as the host of two venerable game shows, Beat the Clock (where his habit of tucking his long-stemmed hand mike into his armpit, before instructing a typically slapstick stage stunt, becomes as familiar as the large Sylvania time clock) and To Tell the Truth.

And James Kern Kyser (Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 1905), who will come to resemble Glenn Miller's dour older sibling in adult life (which is saying something, considering how dour Miller himself often appeared), though he himself will be anything but dour, will become a radio hit as Kay Kyser---and, in time, the husband of one of his band singers, Georgia Carroll---leading his big band through a kind of slapdash music, comedy, and musical quiz entry beginning on Mutual in 1938, Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge.

Kyser, too, will bequeath a television legacy---one of his band singers will become a major television star as the host of a genial afternoon blabberfest: Mike Douglas, who will also record one of the more embarrassingly saccharine hit records of the 1960s, the mostly monologic "The Men in My Little Girl's Life."

1945: HAW-HAW, SAID THE CROWN---William Joyce, the old-time radio propaganda broadcaster known better as the infamous Lord Haw-Haw, is charged formally with treason.

An American citizen and a naturalised German, Joyce could be tried on this charge, the prosecution would argue successfully, because he lied about his nationality to gain a British passport and British voting rights and, thus, owed his formal allegiance to the Crown.

One of four broadcasters thought to have been Lord Haw-Haw, Joyce---who replaced one of those, Wolf Mitler, on the notorious Germany Calling broadcasts in 1939---will be hanged seven months after the formal charge of treason is lodged.


THE WHISTLER: BLUEPRINT FOR SUICIDE (CBS, 1945)---One of the finest acting exercises for the pair often considered to have been (while their marriage lasted, anyway) old-time radio's first couple: Torn between his patient wife (Cathy Lewis) and his secretary, a popular but tortured stage comedian (Elliott Lewis) inadvertently---and fatally---thwarts his wife's thought of killing him. The Whistler: Possibly Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Writer: Geraldine Merkin.


1885---Ernie Adams (actor: Lux Radio Theater), San Francisco.
1897---Henry Wadsworth (actor: Jane Arden), Maysville, Kentucky.
1898---Carleton Hobbs (actor: Saturday Night Theater; The Children's Hour), Farnborough, U.K.; Francis (Dink) Trout (actor: The Life of Riley; A Day in the Life of Dennis Day), Beardstown, Illinois.
1902---Tom Breneman (host: Breakfast at Sardi's; My Secret Ambition), Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.
1903---Jeanette MacDonald (singer/actress: Nobody's Children; Vicks Open House; Campbell Playhouse), Philadelphia.
1904---Keye Luke (actor: Lux Radio Theater; Image Minorities), Canton, China.
1908---Elmore Vincent (actor: Lum & Abner), unknown.
1910---Dick Foran (The Singing Cowboy; singer: The Burns & Allen Show), Flemington, New Jersey; Russ ("The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!") Hodges (sportscaster: New York Giants baseball), Dayton, Tennessee; E.G. Marshall (actor/narrator: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Owatonna, Minnesota.
1913---Sammy Cahn (lyricist: You Bet Your Life; NBC Monitor), New York City.
1917---Richard Boone (actor: Dragnet), Los Angeles.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home