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, June 08, 2009

Quietly Yours: The Way It Was, 8 June

If The Twilight Zone has a genuine old-time radio father---in terms of subtle turns, intelligent writing, and an airy but unmistakeable, quiet, psychologically poetic horror, it is probably the poetically psychological suspense anthology created by the mastermind behind Lights Out, with narration and lead character portraiture by the tastefully arresting, "quietly yours," Ernest Chappell, that premieres today.

NETWORK ANNOUNCER: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents the first of a series of new and unusual dramatic programs, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and featuring Ernest Chappell.
MUSIC: Extract from Franck, Symphony in D Minor; fade in and up.
NARRATOR: Quiet, please . . .(pause; music up, then under). . . Quiet, please . . .
MUSIC: (fade)
NARRATOR: About 5800 feet above sea level---a little house, maybe twenty feet long, fifteen feet wide. It's made of corrugated iron sheets with a high peaked roof, sort of hangs over the edge of the mountain top, with nothing but the spikes of pine trees stretching all the way down to Pasadena, better than a mile below you.
MUSIC: (Up and out.)
NARRATOR: You ever get out to California? Well, if you do, get up there sometime and take a look at that little house . . .

---The opening of "Nothing Behind the Door," episode one of Quiet, Please.

[A] more literate fright-fest . . . Quiet, Please, which went in for surreal psychological horror stories.

---Gerald Nachman, in "Radio Noir---COps and Grave Robbers," from Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.)

. . . unsung and little heard in its day, but a few good-sounding episodes among the dozens surviving on tape in poor quality give evidence of a potent series bristling with rich imagination . . .

With Quiet, Please, Cooper was returning to his radio roots. His characters walked in a fuzzy dream world where the element of menace was ripe and ever-present. In Cooper's hands, a field of lilies could be deadly; a grove of trees touched with sinister implication. Little was explained or justified; the impact was the thing, and at its best Quiet, Please packed a terrifying punch.

---John Dunning, in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.)

A reasonable, simple peer of Suspense and Lights Out for perhaps the most cleverly memorable thriller/horror offering in old-time radio history, Quiet, Please may been just a little too advanced to enjoy a long air life: the show will live barely past a second anniversary overall and well short of a year following its move from Mutual to ABC.

But the show will have its moments in the popular imagination, especially when "Twelve to Five"---about a disc jockey visited by a dead colleague during an overnight request program---provokes listeners to jam the Mutual switchboard with music requests . . . thanks to Cooper's script calling for a background of popular music of the day.


AMOS 'N' ANDY: THEY MAY LOSE THE FRESH AIR TAXI COMPANY (NBC, 1929)---That's if Andy (Charles Correll) can't make the next installment to the furniture company. Amos: Freeman Gosden. Writers: Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.

THE CLOCK: COMING EVENTS (ABC, 1947)---They prove rather intriguing in 1912, spinning forth from between a circus fortune teller and a winning sweepstakes ticket. Alvin Sweet: Don Crosby. The Clock: Hart McGuire. Additional cast: Amanda Dodd, Sheila Sorou, Rip Becknell, Len Taylor. Writer: Lawrence Klee.


1918---Robert Preston (actor: Lux Radio Theater; Eternal Light; Medicine USA; Silver Theater), Newton Highlands, Massachussetts.
1921---Alexis Smith (as Gladys Smith; actress: Lux Radio Theater; Stars in the Air; Screen Guild Theater), Penticton, British Columbia.
1927---Jerry Stiller (comedian/actor: The CBS Radio Mystery Thearer), New York City.
1931---Dana Wynter (as Dagmar Wynter; actress: The Black Museum; The Lives of Harry Lime), Berlin.
1937---Joan Rivers (as Joan Alexandra Molinsky; comedienne: The Voices of Vista), Brooklyn.


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