Monday, September 24, 2012

The Whisperer

The Whisperer was an American old-time radio program which broadcast 13 episodes on late Sunday afternoons [5:00 p.m. Eastern] as a summer replacement from July 8 to September 30, 1951 on NBC. It was based on stories by Dr. Stetson Humphrey (in collaboration with his wife, Irene). The tone of the show was often tongue-in-cheek, and satirized the radio crime dramas of the day. Lawyer Philip Galt (Carleton G. Young), due to a college football injury, lost his voice and can only speak in an eerie whisper. Galt infiltrates "the syndicate" in his native Central City to bring down organized crime from within; to the underworld, he becomes known as the Whisperer. Later, his voice is restored through surgery, but he continues to lead a double life as the Whisperer, relaying instructions by telephone from the syndicate bosses in New York (who don't know he's a mole) to their lackeys in Central City, whom Galt is actually setting up.

In the prologue to the final episode from September 30, 1951 titled "Strange Bed Fellows", Philip Gault explains his history as follows: "It all began 10 years ago when I was kicked in the throat while playing college football. After the bandages were removed I opened my mouth to speak and all that came out was this rattling hiss. After a bakers dozen of women fainted when I spoke to them and countless babies went into paraclisms of crying, I disappeared from my usual haunts and went to work for a group which I later discovered were known as the crime syndicate. I decided to stay with them and collect sufficient evidence to help destroy them. Then one day I met Dr. Lee and through a miracle of surgery he restored my voice enabling me to resume my real identity as Philip Gault, Lawyer. This dual identity makes life very interesting. For if the syndicate ever finds out that the Whisper, who passes on their orders, is really Philip Gault, the man who has wrecked so many of their plans, there'll be slow walking and low moaning. But I won't be around to comment on it."

 Betty Moran portrayed Galt's girlfriend, Ellen Norris, the only person who knows Galt's double identity, other than Dr. Lee. Paul Frees occasionally appeared as Galt's "friend on the force", Lt. Charles Denvers. William Conrad frequently appeared in different supporting roles under his alias, "Julius Krelboyne", as he was under exclusive contract to CBS radio at the time.

 Bill Karn was the producer-director (and occasional writer), and organist Johnny Duffy supplied the background music.

Additional info can be found at THIS LINK.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Love a Mystery

 I Love a Mystery was a radio drama series about three friends who ran a detective agency and traveled the world in search of adventure. Distinguished by the high octane scripting of Carlton E. Morse, the program was the polar opposite of Morse's other success, the long-running One Man's Family.

The central characters, Jack Packard, Doc Long and Reggie York, met as mercenary soldiers fighting the Japanese in China. Later, they met again in San Francisco, where they decided to form the A-1 Detective Agency. Their motto was "No job too tough, no adventure too baffling." The agency served as a plot device to involve the trio in a wide variety of stories. These straddled the genres of mystery, adventure and supernatural horror, and the plotlines often took them to exotic locales. Over the years, Jack was played by Michael Raffetto, Russell Thorson, Jay Novello, Jim Bannon and John McIntire. Doc was played by Barton Yarborough and Jim Boles. Reggie was portrayed by Walter Paterson and Tony Randall. The agency's secretary, Jerry Booker, was played by Gloria Blondell. After Paterson committed suicide in 1942, his friend Morse could not bear to recast the role and Reggie was written out of the series. In later shows, Jerry's role was increased, and she replaced Reggie.

Sponsored by Fleischmann's Yeast, I Love a Mystery first aired on the NBC West Coast network from January 16 to September 29, 1939, weekdays at 3:15pm Pacific time, and then moved to the full NBC network from October 2, 1939 to March 29, 1940, airing weeknights at 7:15pm. In 1940, it expanded to 30-minute episodes from April 4 to June 27 on NBC Thursdays at 8:30pm. Continuing on the Blue Network from September 30, 1940 to June 29, 1942, it was heard Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. Procter & Gamble (for Oxydol and Ivory Soap) replaced Fleishmann's Yeast as the sponsor in the series broadcast by CBS from March 22, 1943 to December 29, 1944 with 15-minute episodes heard weeknights at 7pm. A TV movie with David Hartmann was broadcast in the mid-1970s.
Despite the popularity of the program, few series have survived in a listenable state. The few that have survived in a complete form are "The Thing That Cries in the Night" and "Bury Your Dead, Arizona". Other surviving series are "The Million Dollar Curse", "The Temple of Vampires", "Battle of the Century" and "The Hermit of San Felipe Atabapo"; however, several episodes of these serials are missing, leaving plot holes.

Martin Grams' I Love a Mystery Companion
The Unofficial I Love a Mystery Homepage

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bob Hope Show

 Bob Hope, born Leslie Townes Hope, (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was an English-born American comedian and actor who appeared on Broadway, in vaudeville, movies, television, and on the radio. He was noted for his numerous United Service Organizations (USO) shows entertaining American military personnel—he made 57 tours for the USO between 1942 and 1988. Throughout his long career, he was honored for this work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress declared him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."

Over a career spanning 60 years (1934 to 1994), Hope appeared in over 70 films and shorts, including a series of "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. In addition to hosting the Academy Awards fourteen times, he appeared in many stage productions and television roles, and was the author of fourteen books. He participated in the sports of golf and boxing, and owned a small stake in his hometown baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He was married to Grace Troxell from 1933 until 1934 and to Dolores Hope from 1934 until his death.

In the early days, Hope's career included appearances on stage in Vaudeville shows and Broadway productions. He began performing on the radio in 1934 and switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950s. He began doing regular TV specials in 1954, and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times in the period from 1941 to 1978. Overlapping with this was his movie career, spanning the years 1934 to 1972, and his USO tours, which he did from 1942 to 1988.

Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers. The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity was overshadowed by television.

For a more detailed account of the legendary Bob Hope's personal and professional life, start with his Wikipedia Page.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Academy Award

  Academy Award was a CBS radio anthology series which presented 30-minute adaptations of plays, novels or films.

Rather than adaptations of Oscar-winning films, as the title implied, the series offered "Hollywood's finest, the great picture plays, the great actors and actresses, techniques and skills, chosen from the honor roll of those who have won or been nominated for the famous golden Oscar of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

With that as a guideline, any drama could be presented as long as the cast included at least one Oscar-nominated performer. For example, Robert Nathan's 1940 novel Portrait of Jennie was not released as a film until 1949. David O. Selznick, having acquired the rights to Nathan's novel in 1944, was spending much time and money in his efforts to bring it to the screen. Thus, Academy Award's December 4, 1946 adaptation of Portrait of Jennie, with John Lund and Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine, had a promotional aspect, concluding with host/announcer Hugh Brundage revealing, "Portrait of Jennie is soon to be a Selznick International picture starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten."

The program initially aired on Saturdays at 7pm(et) through June, then moved to Wednesdays at 10pm(et). Frank Wilson scripted the 30-minute adaptations for producer-director Dee Englebach, and Leith Stevens provided the music. The sound effects crew included Gene Twombly, Jay Roth, Clark Casey and Berne Surrey.

The series began March 30, 1946, with Bette Davis, Anne Revere and Fay Bainter in Jezebel. On that first show, Jean Hersholt spoke as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, welcoming the E.R. Squibb & Sons pharmaceutical company {"The House Of Squibb"} as the program's sponsor. It was an expensive show to produce since the stars cost $4000 a week, and another $1600 went each week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the use of their name in the show's title. This eventually became a factor in Squibb's decision to cancel the series after only 39 weeks.

Dramas in which actors recreated their original film roles included Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, Cary Grant in Suspicion, Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom and Ronald Colman in Lost Horizon. However, of the 39 episodes, only six actors recreated their own Oscar-winning roles: Fay Bainter, Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Victor McLaglen, Paul Muni and Ginger Rogers.

The series ended December 18, 1946, with Margaret O'Brien and one of the series' frequent supporting players, Jeff Chandler (appearing under his real name, Ira Grossel) in Lost Angel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Box 13

Box 13 was a syndicated radio series about the escapades of newspaperman-turned-mystery novelist Dan Holliday, played by film star Alan Ladd. Created by Ladd's company, Mayfair Productions, Box 13 premiered in 1947. In New York City, it first aired December 31, 1947, on Mutual's New York flagship, WOR.

To seek out new ideas for his fiction, Holliday ran a classified ad in the Star-Times newspaper where he formerly worked: "Adventure wanted, will go anywhere, do anything -- write Box 13, Star-Times." The stories followed Holliday's adventures when he responded to the letters sent to him by such people as a psycho killer and various victims.

Sylvia Picker appeared as Holliday's scatterbrained secretary, Suzy, while Edmund MacDonald played police Lt. Kling. Supporting cast members included Betty Lou Gerson, Frank Lovejoy, Lurene Tuttle, Alan Reed, Luis Van Rooten and John Beal. Vern Carstensen, who directed Box 13 for producer Richard Sanville, was also the show's announcer.

Among the 52 episodes in the series were such mystery adventures as "The Sad Night," "Hot Box," "Last Will And Nursery Rhyme," "Hare And Hounds," "Hunt And Peck," "Death Is A Doll," "Tempest In a Casserole" and "Mexican Maze." The dramas featured music by Rudy Schrager. Russell Hughes, who had previously hired Ladd as a radio actor in 1935 at a $19 weekly salary, wrote most of the scripts, sometimes in collaboration with Ladd. The partners in Mayfair Productions were Ladd and Bernie Joslin, who had previously run the chain of Mayfair Restaurants.

 At least one attempt to convert the series for television was tried when Ladd appeared in an adaptation of "Daytime Nightmare" (retitled "Committed") on CBS' General Electric Theater (December 5, 1954). Box 13 was also re-imagined (rather than a straight adaptation or continuation) as a comic book series in 2010 by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis and published by Comixology. It is published digitally by comiXology and published in print by Red 5 Comics.

Happy Labor Day!