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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Swinging and Lamenting: The Way It Was, 31 July

---You may call it sad, that old-time radio's first known successful soap, and a comic soap at that, has become a relic that seems too much of its past to contain a relevance to 1942.

But you may not know the story of how Clara, Lu, & Em, the brainchild of three Northwestern University sorority sisters who developed the show from skits they liked to perform around the sorority house, prompting classmates to prod them toward radio, comes to this point: The original comic soap's momentum was destroyed when Isobel Crothers, the original Lu, died unexpectedly in 1936.

The same thing, almost, would happen to Myrt & Marge a few years later---Donna Damerel Fick (Marge) would die after giving birth to her third son; Myrtle Vail (Myrt, and the brains behind the soap), citing her daughter's wish that the show continue regardless, recast the role a short time later and soldiered on, though without the momentum of the original.

For Clara, Lu, & Em there was less choice, as things happened: Louise Starkey (Clara) and Helen King (Em) refused to carry on without Carothers, and the show disappeared for six years. Come 1942, however, the two survivors decided to give the show another try, enlisting another college classmate, Harriet Allyn, to step in in as Lu; and, Pillsbury to step in as the sponsor. (Allyn would be the only one of the three to stay with the show in an ill-fated, 1945 syndication version, though she switched roles this time, playing Em.)

They probably should have let it be.

But here, the trio hears from Loretta Doolittle, who tells them Elizabeth Anne Willis has just delivered a baby girl, prompting a round of gossip and rumination that ends up, somehow, covering the "women's Army." Announcer: Bret Morrison. Writers: Louise Starkey, Harriet Allyn, Helen King.

From the kickoff of "After You've Gone," the King of Swing---as World War II begins its long, winding, but certain finish---kicks into a brisk set with an all-star band including Roy Eldridge, Arthur Levy, Goodman veteran Teddy Wilson, and vocal legends Mildred Bailey and Perry Como, being recorded for radio for the famous V-Discs sold exclusively to American military personnel.

The set includes a pleasing reading of "Jubilee" by its hitmaker, Bailey; Como, showing an unusual feeling for pure jazz (Como had earned his spurs with the anything-but-jazz Ted Weems aggregation, before launching a solo career that wouldn't take off in earnest for another year following this performance), with "Goodbye, Sue"; and, Goodman himself leading "These Foolish Things" with phrasing eerily comparable to Frank Sinatra's when the latter cut a version of the song in the same period.

Host: Deems Taylor. Announcer: John Gary.


1938: CLUBBING---What was known: Jake Powell, a New York Yankees outfielder, instigated one of old-time radio's most embarrassing hours, when he was foolish enough to tell WGN sportscasting legend Bob Elson, on the air, that he kept in shape during the offseason as a Dayton, Ohio police officer "beat[ing] niggers over the head with my blackjack while on my beat."

Elson was compelled to apologise when an uproar erupted almost at once, saying Powell had offended him as deeply as he'd offended some of his friends. The Yankees planned to send Powell down to the minors (they were finally disgusted, it was said, with Powell's penchant for foul play and lack of sportsmanship), but then-Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis---perhaps duplicitously, considering his none-too-benign assent to baseball's colour line of the time---suspended him ten days.

What may not have been known, at least by many enough, until Powell's suicide in November 1948: Powell actually sought to make a kind of atonement for his blunt racism. And one of America's most virtuoso sportswriters happened to know about it.


There are probably a lot of stories that could be told about Jake Powell by people who knew him better. Here there is only one, which may help explain a couple of things. That is, it may furnish a little insight into the nature of a guy who never knew fear and never knew what was good for him, a guy who always acted on impulse and was wrong more often than not.

In the end, he was tragically wrong, of course. He killed himself. Jake Powell, who used to play the outfield for the Yankees and the Senators and any number of minor league clubs, got himself messed up the other day and gave up and shot himself. He didn't slip off and lock himself in a room and turn on the gas. He shot himself twice, once in the chest and then in the head, in a police station in Washington, D.C., with the cops looking on.

Now, as to that story. When Jake was playing ball in the American League a radio broadcaster grabbed him for one of those offhand, unrehearsed dugout interviews just before a game in Comiskey Park in Chicago. Answering questions without thinking, Powell made a thoughtless remark that offended thousands of Negroes.

A storm ensued. The American League office was flooded with protests. There was talk of a boycott against any park where Powell might be playing. Jake had been wrong as wrong could be.

Well, the next time Powell got to New York he went up to the top end of Harlem. He went alone, after dark. He worked down from north to south, stopping in every saloon he came across.

In each he introduced himself. He said he was Jake Powell and he said that he had made a foolish mistake and that he was sorry. Then he ordered drinks for the crowd and moved on to the next joint.

He did that by himself, on his own initiative, after dark, in a section where he had reason to believe feelings ran high against him.

That's one story about Jake Powell. The only one here.

---Red Smith, New York Herald-Tribune, 7 November 1948; republished in To Absent Friends from Red Smith. (New York: Atheneum, 1982.)

And, perhaps, the only story that needed to be told. Then, and now.


LUM & ABNER: ABNER SELLS THE STORE TO SNAKE HOGAN (NBC Blue, 1935)---And Snake (Chester Lauck, who also plays Lum) could buy it thanks to shifty Squire (Norris Goff, who also plays Abner) putting up the money for the deal, hoping Abner would invest it in Squire's silver mine---which Abner did anything but, leaving Lum (who still has an interest in the mine) and Dick Huddleston (Goff) to marvel at Abner's double-cross, even as Lum reminds Dick Squire's bent on jamming that mine interest down Abner's unwilling throat. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

THE GOLDBERGS: SYLVIA'S TANTRUM (CBS, 1941)---While Molly (Gertrude Berg) jauntily prepares a feast for one and all, including Esther Miller (Joan Vitez), Jake (John R. Waters) tries to brace Allyson (unknown) with Esther's discomfiting presence, but Sylvia (Zina Provendie) isn't exactly in the mood to accommodate. Sammy: Alfred Ryder. Rosalie: Roslyn Siber. Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer/director: Gertrude Berg.

OUR MISS BROOKS: A NEW JOB IN NORWICH, CONNECTICUT (CBS, 1949)---To the mild amusement of her worshipper Walter (Richard Crenna), Connie (Eve Arden) ponders an offer to become the secretary to Norwich's mayor---and swinging a transfer to that city for her indifferent paramour Boynton (Jeff Chandler), after she finally tires of Conklin's (Gale Gordon) martinet ways---but her plans to lure Conklin into setting her free may collide with Conklin's sudden consideration toward her. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Bob Lamond. Writer: Al Lewis.


1854---Charles Goodell (The Shepherd of the Air; clergyman, Sabbath Reveries), Dudley, Massachussetts.
1892---Herbert W. Armstrong (preacher: Plain Truth; The World Tomorrow), Des Moines.
1894---Roy Bargy (conductor: The Jimmy Durante Show; Kraft Music Hall; Rexall Summer Theater), Newaygo, Michigan.
1900---Elmo Roper (pollster: America's Town Meeting of the Air; Word from the People), Hebron, Nebraska.
1902---Robert E. Griffin (actor: The Story of Holly Sloan; Bright Horizon), Hutchinson, Kansas.
1904---Brett Halliday (creator: Michael Shayne; host: Murder By Experts), Chicago; Billy (Trade) Hillpot (singer: The Smith Brothers: Trade and Mark; The Camel Pleasure Hour), Red Bank, New Jersey.
1908---W.F. (Bill) Shadel (newscaster, CBS: he reported the D-Day landings of June 1944, among other significant stories), Milton, Wisconsin.
1909---Roger Krupp (announcer: The Adventures of Ellery Queen; Famous Jury Trials), Minnesota.
1911---George Liberace (violinist: numerous remotes, the Orrin Tucker Band, the Anson Weeks Band; brother of the Liberace), Menasha, Wisconsin.
1912---Irv Kupcinet (sportscaster, WGN Chicago: Chicago Bears football), Chicago; Chester Stratton (actor: Pepper Young's Family; Hop Harrigan), Paterson, New Jersey.
1913---Brook Byron (actor: Top Secret; Suspense), Weakly County, Tennessee.
1915---Chet Forrest (composer/pianist: U.S. Treasury Star Parade), Brooklyn.
1916---Bill Todman (writer/producer/director: Treasury Salute; Winner Take All; Beat the Clock; Hit the Jackpot; Rate Your Mate; The Web), New York City.
1919---Norman Del Mar (conductor: Scottish Orchestra), Hempstad, U.K.; Curt Gowdy (sportscaster: Boston Red Sox baseball), Green River, Wyoming.
1921---Barbara Fuller (actress: One Man's Family; Stepmother), Nahant, Massachussetts.
1924---Garard Green (actor: Sherlock Holmes), Madras, India.
1927---Tony Thomas (announcer, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Portsmouth, U.K.
1931---Kenny Burrell (jazz guitarist: Newport Jazz Festival; Jazz Alive), Detroit.
1936---David Halliwell (writer: Spongehenge; There's a Car Park in Whitherton), Brighthouse, U.K.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Battle, Two Bands, Four Brothers: The Way It Was, 30 July

Disregard, if you will, the sometimes lame banter between the three bandleaders at the outset. Cut right to the music from two of the more forward-looking yet still accessible surviving big bands. (Ordinarily, this is a regular broadcast by Barnet, the alto saxophonist whose idol was Duke Ellington.) The highlights include, especially, spirited takes on "Bop City," "Ill Wind," and "Bebop Spoken Here" from the Barnet aggregation, and the Herd's unique interpretation of Ellington's "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)."

Perhaps the real treat, as good and as vibrant as both ensembles are, is a brisk highlight of "Four Brothers," both the song and the Second Herd saxophone quartet who earned the nickname (and earned the Second Herd a secondary identification as the Four Brothers Band)---Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Serge Chaloff, all influenced by Lester Young, whose deceptively lyric tone upended the burly tone Coleman Hawkins had once made a requirement for aspiring tenor saxophonists.

However, it is also a revelatory treat to listen to Kenton---possibly the most experimental of the three bandleaders, but then on a hiatus while trying to determine his next musical move (he "referees" the "battle" between Barnet and Herman)---describe a brief retirement, freshly ended, that included a jaunt to Central and South America to soak up the continent's remarkable musics, a jaunt that informs, in due course, such Kenton exercises as Cuban Fire. Kenton also discusses the dichotomy he believes exists between "great jazz" and the ballroom's need; his belief that "great jazz" has its future in the concert hall and not the ballroom; and, whether young musicians of the day are missing certain fundamentals in preparing for their lives as the new jazzmen.

Announcer: Tom Reddy.


LUM & ABNER: A PLOT TO BUY THE JOT 'EM DOWN STORE (NBC BLUE, 1935)---Abner (Norris Goff, who also plays Dick Huddleston and Squire Skimp) remains torn by a wave of society behaviour enveloping Pine Ridge in general, and his wife and daughter in particular, both of whom he fears are pushing him to withdraw from the "disgrace" of co-owning the Jot 'Em Down Store. Lum: Chester Lauck. Announcer: Carlton Brickert. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

THE GOLDBERGS: ESTHER AND ALLYSON MEET (CBS, 1941)---Molly (Gertrude Berg) is anxious about the arrival of Esther Miller (Joan Vitez), a woman from the past of the deceptive Sylvia's (Zena Provendie) father---who's anything but anxious to see her again, and what a surprise, considering Molly's implication of how different would things have been if the elder Allyson had married her, instead. Jake: John R. Waters. Sammy: Alfred Ryder. Rosalie: Roslyn Siber. Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer/director: Gertrude Berg. (Warning: Backskips in recording.)

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: WORKMEN HAVE THE MUMPS (CBS, 1958)---Which is the last thing the Arbuckles (Peg Lynch, Alan Bunce) need, when daughter Betsy is fed up with all the attention lavished on her newly-arrived baby brother. Writer/director: Peg Lynch.

BOB & RAY PRESENT THE CBS RADIO NETWORK: SMELLY DAVE AT ALBANY (WE CAN'T IMAGINE, 1959)---The none-too-great whale is there to help WROW and, not coincidentally, its program director George Perkins and, of course, traveling reporter Arthur Shrank---who discover an unexpected problem as the presentation begins. Also: an episode of "Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate." Writers, actual or alleged: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where the Riff Meet The Raff, The Ragamuffin, The Rapacious: The Way It Was, 29 July

In the first of its two summers as a CBS series in which listeners were asked to hear and vote upon prospective new shows, this otherwise eclectic anthology premieres what's destined to become one of old-time radio's signature successes---the doings and undoings of a seedy New York pub whose malaproprietor Archie (Ed Gardner) presides over riff, raff, ragamuffin, and rapacity, aided and abetted by a few charming guest stars---and the never-seen pub owner whose incessant calls and criticisms drive Archie two shots short of a highball.

Gertrude Niesen: Herself. Col. Stoopnagle: F. Chase Taylor. Larry Adler: Himself. Music: John Kirby Orchestra. Writers: Ed Gardner, Abe Burrows.


1977: AN INSTITUTION'S FAREWELL---Buffalo, New York morning radio institution Clint Buehlmann---whose presence traced back to the peak of the old-time radio era (late 1930s-late 1940s)---performed his final program on WBEN.


FORT LARAMIE: NATURE BOY (CBS, 1956)---Quince (Raymond Burr) has orders to escort a Bureau of Indian Affairs official and his wife, whose presence has unsettled locals disturbed by their teaching Indians some refinements to their routines. Additional cast: Parley Baer, Harry Bartell, John Dehner, Virginia Gregg, Joseph Kearns, Howard McNear, Shirley Mitchell. Announcer: Dan Cubberly. Music: Amerigo Macdonnell. Writer: Kathleen Hite.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Sunburn and a Soap Slap: The Way It Was, 28 July

The only problem is that Ray's sunburn isn't half as funny as one of the team's earliest soap opera zaps. No specific soap was targeted (that sort of thing would come later for the duo), but "King Raymond the Third" casts the die for the team's eventual and far more successful modus operandi when lancing the genre. Their lampoon of You Are There, "Bob and Ray is There," isn't lame, either.

Writers, if you want to call them that: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1901: HEIGH-HO, EVERYBODY---Future "cheerleading, flapper-chasing, raccoon coat-wearing Yalie" Rudy Vallee is born in Island Pond, Vermont, destined to reach fame as a megaphone-whispering crooner and, arguably, the first genuine old-time radio variety megastar, after he establishes himself as a host-impresario first with The Eveready Hour (born in 1923) and, especially, with The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour, which will premiere two days after the stock market crash of 1929.

Vallee was the first Ed Sullivan, whose power and influence in the 1930s equaled that of the real Sullivan on TV and Florenz Ziegfeld on Broadway. He was a Sol Hurok of the air responsible for launching as many major radio careers as anybody in show business. By the early 1930s, his show had replaced the Palace Theater as the prestige booking of vaudeville. It was the first show to revolve around a single host. With his curiously appealing pinched voice, Vallee parlayed a mediocre house band at the Heigh Ho Club (hence his famous opening) into a dominant position as a star and pop hitmaker . . .

Because NBC, Vallee's network, was then the only coast-to-coast hookup, virtually any new song he performed on his show became an instant hit . . . When Vallee introduced a new singer, like Alice Faye, people listened seriously. He first brought Johnny Mercer's name to the airwaves with a rendition of "Lazybones" sung with black inflections . . .

A notorious ladies' man, Vallee would pluck girls out of a chorus line and give them a chance. He spotted Alice Faye in the chorus of George White's Scandals . . . Needing a girl singer, Vallee had an affair with Alice Faye that ended his marriage and then hired her, although he'd only heard her perform solo at a cast party, where he was smitten by her imitation of Maurice Chevalier singing "Mimi" . . .

Rudy Vallee was merely the most resourceful of the big bandleaders who took to radio in the 1930s. Most were content simply to set up shop and play.

---Gerald Nachman, in "For Your Listening and Dancing Pleasure," in Raised on Radio. (New York: Pantheon, 1998.)

To name a few, Vallee will give the first old-time radio exposure to these lights among others, either making them stars or giving them the early cred upon which to build what leads to their own eventual stardom: Larry Adler, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Milton Berle, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice (whose Baby Snooks first turned up on the Vallee show), Burns and Allen, Eddie Cantor, Noel Coward, Ed Gardner, Dolores Grey, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Mel Torme, and Orson Welles.

He has no patience with stupidity or the slightest deviation from what he considers the truth. He is the most generous of friends, willing to go out of his way to help people. But once he feels they have violated his trust, he is the bitterest of enemies.

---Radioland, 1934.

He went forth with a chip on his shoulder to prove he wasn't a sissy. When he hit his peak he was arrogant and unreasonable, popular with a public that didn't know him and unpopular with his hired hands.

---James Street, Radio Guide.

He would quibble over pennies but would support a disabled musician through years of distant and expensive tuberculosis therapy . . . He saw the world in black and white but was willing to apologise when it was proved to his own satisfaction that he had been wrong.

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

When I do something wrong and stupid, I ask the injured person's pardon. I don't mind at all eating humble pie.

---Rudy Vallee, as quoted by Dunning.

2004: FAREWELL, JACKSON---Veteran old-time radio and cartoon voice actor Jackson Beck---he who first hollered, "It's a bird! It's a plane!" as part of the introduction to the original radio serial, The Adventures of Superman, dies at age 92.

Cartoon fans remember him as the voice of Bluto during the Paramount/Famous Studios editions of Popeye, the Sailor, but Jackson Beck's old-time radio cred included Brownstone Theater; Casey, Crime Photographer; The Cisco Kid (the title role); Dimension X; The FBI in Peace and War; Hop Harrigan; Joe and Ethel Turp; The Man Behind the Gun; March of Time; Mark Trail; The Milton Berle Show; Myrt & Marge; The Mysterious Traveler; Philo Vance (also the title role); and, The Timid Soul . . . to name a few.

Beck was also known to do voices for children's recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s, including such stories as "The Little Red Caboose" (narrating), "Little Toot" (portraying the plucky little tugboat's father), and "The Little Engine That Could" (portraying a diesel engine) on an album (for Diplomat Records) named after the third of those stories.


VIC & SADE: GARBAGE BOX MYSTERY (NBC, 1944)---A leisurely stroll home becomes a pair of urgent missions for Vic (Art Van Harvey) and Russell (David Whitehouse) when Sade (Bernadine Flynn) accosts them on the front porch. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.


1892---Joe E. Brown (comedian/host: Ceiling Unlimited; The Joe E. Brown Show; Stop or Go), Holgate, Ohio.
1910---Frank Loesser (composer: Cavalcade for Victory; The Abe Burrows Show; Heartbeat of Broadway), New York City.
1911---Ann Doran (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Amarillo, Texas.
1912---George Cisar (actor: Tina and Tim), Illinois.
1914---Carmen Dragon (conductor: Maxwell House Coffee Time; The Baby Snooks Show; The Railroad Hour), Antioch, California.
1915---Frankie Yankovic (bandleader: Frankie Yankovic and His Yanks; Guest Star Time), unknown.
1916---Laird Cregar (actor: Hello, Americans; Suspense), Philadelphia.
1931---Darryl Hickman (actor: Family Theater), Hollywood.
1937---Peter Duchin (pianist/conductor: Stars for Defense), New York City.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How to Steal a Planet Without Really Trying: The Way It Was, 26 July

An archaeologist (Ernest Chappell, who narrates) and his wife discover an ancient Myan temple, deep in a remote and nameless Mexican jungle, and an archaeological treasure so great they fear the Mexican government's despoiling it---but discover in due course that removing it even for safety's sake may pose grave consequences for themselves . . . and the world.

Voice on the Radio: Bill Thompson. Additional cast: Unknown. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.


1902 (?): DOWN WITH COMMON SENSE---George and Margaret Allen have no clue that the newborn daughter they will christen Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie (though no one---including her future husband---will seem to remember precisely when she arrives) is destined to become---via old-time radio, especially---the world's unchallenged queen of illogical logic, as the wife and zany partner of one Nathaniel Birnbaum, known better as George Burns.


THE HINDS HONEY & ALMOND CREAM SHOW STARRING GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN: AUNT CLARA'S KANGAROO (CBS, 8 MAY 1940)---The first of three classic episodes during the "Gracie for President" gag chosen for this tribute: A trip to the Surprise Party convention will have to wait at least long enough to retrieve the train tickets---because the Surprise Party's Presidential candidate (three guesses) gave the tickets to a stranger who wanted to be at the broadcast . . . not to mention assuring George (Burns) will tend Aunt Clara. Additional cast: Frank Parker, Truman Bradley. Music: Ray Noble and His Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

THE HINDS HONEY & ALMOND CREAM SHOW WITH GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN: RAH-RAH IN OMAHA (CBS, 15 MAY 1940)---George (Burns) and Gracie (Allen) and her presidential campaign arrive at Omaha's Exarbin Coliseum in advance of the Surprise Party convention. Additional cast: Truman Bradley, Bubbles Kelly. Music: Ray Noble and the Union Pacific Band, Frank Parker. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

THE HINDS HONEY & ALMOND CREAM SHOW WITH GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN: 29 MAY 1940: SWEEPING INTO OFFICE (CBS, 29 MAY 1940)---Broadcasting from Treasure Island at the San Francisco World's Fair, George (Burns) thinks Gracie (Allen) will be a shoe-in for the White House if they can get a powerful Bay Area wheel behind her campaign---assuming he can shut her up about the man's sensitivity about his red beard. Additional cast: Frank Parker, Truman Bradley. Music: Ray Noble & His Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

LUX RADIO THEATERARE HUSBANDS NECESSARY (CBS, 15 FEBRUARY 1943)---In an adaptation of the 1942 Ray Milland-Betty Field film comedy, an aspiring but unlucky banker (Burns) sees his hopes of a vice presidency get compromised by the inadvertent meddling of his scattered wife (Allen) . . . who doesn't realise she's abetting the overt corruption of a rival (Arthur Q. Bryan). Adapted from the screenplay by Frank Davis and Tess Slesinger, based on the novel, Mr. and Mrs. Cugat by Isabel Scott Rorick. (This may or may also have provided a seed for what would become radio's My Favourite Husband in due course.)

MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE TIME WITH GEORGE BURN & GRACIE ALLEN: KANSAS CITY'S FAVOURITE SINGER (CBS, 6 JUNE 1944)---Discouraged George (Burns), who thinks he's just a miserable, broken-down flop, gets a letter intended for Dinah Shore by mistake---and Gracie (Allen) uses it to help cheer him up, unaware that an official decree naming Shore Kansas City's favourite singer is also going to the Burns home by mistake. Dinah Shore: Herself. The Happy Postman: Mel Blanc. Tootsie Stagwell: Elvia Allman. Additional cast: Jimmy Cash, Hans Conreid, Bill Goodwin, Lawrence Nash. Music: Felix Mills Orchestra. Writers: George Burns, Hal Block, Aaron Ruben, possibly Helen Gould Harvey.

MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE TIME WITH GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN: 17 MARCH 1949: GEORGE HAS A COLD (CBS, 17 MARCH 1949)---Not to mention a few headaches when Gracie gets Marlene Dietrich mixed up in her inimitable style. Additional cast: Bea Benaderet, Bill Goodwin, Harry Von Zell, Toby Reed. Music: Harry Goodwin Orchestra.

MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE TIME WITH GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN: EDDIE CANTOR IS WORKING TOO HARD (CBS, 21 APRIL 1949)---Only the first hints involve how many dates he books in a day and how long it's been since he's kissed his wife. Additional cast: Bill Goodwin, Toby Reed, Bea Benaderet. Writers: Paul Henning, Keith Fowler, George Burns.


1896---Charles Butterworth (comedian: The Fred Astaire Show), South Bend, Indiana.
1899---Danton Walker (columnist/host: Forty-Five Minutes on Broadway; Twin Views of the News), Marietta, Georgia.
1903---Donald Voorhees (conductor: Cavalcade of America; The Bell Telephone Hour), Allentown, Pennsylvania.
1907---Galen Drake (news commentator), Kokomo, Indiana.
1911---Buddy Clark (singer: Your Hit Parade; The New Carnation Contented Hour), Dorchester, Massachussetts.
1918---Stacy Harris (actor: This Is Your FBI; Pepper Young's Family), Big Timber, Quebec.
,small>1922---Blake Edwards (writer: Lineup; Richard Diamond, Private Detective), Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Undecided, or Stubborn? The Way It Was, 17 July

In which a classic cast have at Norman Corwin's impeccable trial-in-verse of a stubborn molecule refusing classification, a clever advance upon the technique with which Corwin first experimented successfully in The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, and a staggering allegorical telegraph of the coming atomic bomb drop.

Prosecutor: Robert Benchley. Clerk: Norman Lloyd. Judge: Groucho Marx. Vice president in charge of physiochemistry: Elliott Lewis. Miss Anima: Sylvia Sidney. Additional cast: Keenan Wynn, in four roles. Music: Carmen Dragon, conducted by Lud Gluskin. Writer: Norman Corwin.


LUM & ABNER: BOSS ABNER MAKES CLERK EDDARDS' LIFE MISERABLE (MUTUAL, 1935)---That'll teach Lum (Chester Lauck) to forget to buy the fire insurance and lose his theater by fire, as Abner (Norris Goff) has agreed to hire him back at the Jot 'em Down Store . . . but he's exhausted from overwork and spilling his frustrations out to Grandpappy Spear (also Goff). Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

THE SHADOW: ABOARD THE STEAMSHIP AMAZON (MUTUAL, 1938)---A gun smuggler, his mother, and a comely financier planning to graduate to revolution provide a seafaring headache for Lamont (Orson Welles) and Margo (Agnes Moorehead). Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Arthur Whiteside. Writers: Possibly Edith Meiser, Edward Hale Bierstadt, Jerry Devine.

THE GREEN HORNET: POOR SUBSTITUTES (MUTUAL, 1940)---Britt (Al Hodge) is only too anxious to discover the reason behind Axford's (Jim Irwin) discovery: several families on the Daily Sentinel's needy families list a year ago doing a little too well this year. Lenore Case: Lee Allman. Kato: Tokutaro Hayashi (a.k.a. Raymond Toyo). Lowry: Jack Petruzzi. Writer: Fran Striker.

ACADEMY AWARD THEATER: THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (CBS, 1946)---Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Virginia Bruce highlight this interpretation of the Oscar-nominated (best art direction, best music score) 1937 swashbuckler about a king's distant cousin (Fairbanks) asked to impersonate the kidnapped monarch, whose fiance (Bruce) notices one too many personality changes for comfort. Adapted from a screenplay by Albert Sanchez Moreno.

OUR MISS BROOKS: THE CARELESSNESS CODE; OR, GREAT CAESAR'S BUST(ED) (CBS, 1949)---In a particularly classic installment, levying petty fines for often spontaneously-enacted school safety rules is the way Conklin (Gale Gordon) plans to finance a new bust for the front of the school library---of himself, to replace a bust of Julius Caesar, until frequent defendant Connie (Eve Arden) finds a way to teach him the hard way how finely pettiness comes to bury Caesar's would-be successor. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Writer: Al Lewis.


1889---James Cagney (actor: Arch Oboler's Plays; Screen Guild Theater), New York City; Erle Stanley Gardner (author and creator of Perry Mason; The Adventures of Christopher London), Malden, Massachussetts.
1902---Edward Gargan (actor: This Is Your FBI; This Is Our Heritage), Brooklyn.
1904---William Gargan (actor: Martin Kane, Private Eye; Barrie Craig, Private Investigator), Brooklyn.
1906---John Carroll (actor: Hello Mom; Suspense), New Orleans.
1912---Art Linkletter (as Gordon Arthur Kelly; comedian/host: Art Linkletter's House Party; People Are Funny), Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
1914---Eleanor Steber (singer: The Voice of Firestone), Wheeling, West Virginia.
1915---Cass Daley (comedienne: The New Fitch Bandwagon; The Cass Daley Show; Maxwell House Coffee Time), Philadelphia.
1916---Irene Manning (singer: Mr. Broadway; The Railroad Hour), Cincinnati.
1918---Red Sovine (as Woodrow Wilson Sovine; singer: Country Music Time; Country Hoedown), Charleston, West Virginia.
1920---Helen Walker (actress: Proudly We Hail; Suspense; Old Gold Comedy Theater), Worchester, Massachussetts.
1935---Diahann Carroll (as Carol Diahann Johnson; singer/actress: Army Bandstand; Manhattan Melodies; Stars for Defense), Bronx, New York.