Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Candy Matson

Candy Matson was a radio program on NBC West Coast which aired from June 29, 1949, to May 20, 1951. It centered on Candy Matson, a female private investigator with a wry sense of humor and a penthouse on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. The program was notable for having a strong female character "without a trace of squeamishness" as well as a veiled gay character in Candy's best friend Rembrandt Watson, voiced by Jack Thomas. Candy's love interest was police detective Ray Mallard, voiced by Henry Leff. The announcer was Dudley Manlove. Actors frequently heard in minor roles were Helen Kleeb, John Grober, Mary Milford and Hal Burdick.

The series concluded with a twist ending when Ray finally proposed to Candy, who accepted, and with her getting married she retired from the detective business.

It was created by Monty Masters and starred his wife Natalie Parks as Candy Matson. When Monty Masters created the show, he planned to star in it himself, as a male private detective. His mother-in-law convinced him to change the lead to a female, which led to his wife's being the star.

In 1950, Candy Matson was recognized with the San Francisco Examiner's Favorite Program Award. The award was presented as part of the broadcast of the episode "Symphony of Death."

The aftermath of a 1950 episode illustrated the program's popularity. A newspaper story related: "It seems that during the closing moments of the last Monday's sequence, Candy is in an aircraft repeating the 'Twenty-third Psalm' as the plane cashes into a lake. At that point the show ends. And at that point the switchboard at Radio City started lighting up like a Christmas tree. More than 800 calls were received shortly after the program signed off. All of them wondering what happened to their heroine."

Only 14 of the 92 episodes survive, along with the April 1949 audition show, the September 1952 series revival audition show, and an episode written by Jack French for the BearManor book, It's That Time Again! Entitled "The Japanese Sandman," it was turned into as a radio theater by veteran radio theater producer Joe Bevilacqua, who also voiced all the roles including Candy herself, for the Blackstone Audio title The New Stories of Old-Time Radio Volume One.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Archie Andrews

Archie Andrews, created in 1941 by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana, is a fictional character in an American comic book series published by Archie Comics, as well as the long-running Archie Andrews radio series, a syndicated comic strip, The Archie Show, and Archie's Weird Mysteries.

Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead were heard on radio in the early 1940s. Archie Andrews began on the NBC Blue Network on May 31, 1943, switched to Mutual in 1944, and then continued on NBC radio from 1945 until September 5, 1953. The program's original announcer was Kenneth Banghart, later succeeded by Bob Shepard (during the 1947-48 season, when Swift and Company sponsored the program) and Dick Dudley. Archie was first played by Charles Mullen (1943-1944), Jack Grimes (1944) and Burt Boyar (1945), with Bob Hastings (1945-1953) as the title character during the NBC years. Jughead was portrayed by Hal Stone, Cameron Andrews and later by Arnold Stang. Stone later wrote about his radio career in his autobiography, Relax... Archie! Re-laxx! (Bygone Days Press, 2003). During the NBC run, Rosemary Rice portrayed Betty, Gloria Mann portrayed Veronica, Alice Yourman portrayed Archie's mother, Mary Andrews and Arthur "Art" Kohl was Archie's father, Fred Andrews.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Abbott and Costello

William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo), were an American comedy duo whose work in vaudeville and on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s and early 1950s. Their patter routine "Who's on First?" is considered one of the greatest comedy routines of all time and set the framework for many of their best-known comedy bits.

 The team's first known radio appearance was on The Kate Smith Hour in February 1938. Initially, the similarities between their voices made it difficult for listeners (as opposed to stage audiences) to tell them apart due to their rapid-fire repartee. The problem was solved by having Costello affect a high-pitched childish voice. "Who's on First?" was first performed for a national radio audience the following month. They stayed on the program as regulars for two years, while landing roles in a Broadway revue, The Streets of Paris, in 1939.

In 1940 Universal Studios signed them for the film One Night in the Tropics. Cast in supporting roles, they stole the show with several classic routines, including "Who's on First?" The same year they were a summer replacement on radio for Fred Allen. Two years later, they had their own NBC show.

After working as Allen's summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

The Abbott and Costello Show mixed comedy with musical interludes (by vocalists such as Connie Haines, Ashley Eustis, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Skinnay Ennis, and the Les Baxter Singers). Regulars and semi-regulars on the show included Artie Auerbach ("Mr. Kitzel"), Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth, and Benay Venuta. Ken Niles was the show's longtime announcer, doubling as an exasperated foil to Abbott and Costello's mishaps (and often fuming in character as Costello routinely insulted his on-air wife). Niles was succeeded by Michael Roy, with announcing chores also handled over the years by Frank Bingman and Jim Doyle. The show went through several orchestras during its radio life, including those of Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Matty Malneck, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Fred Rich, Leith Stevens, and Peter van Steeden. The show's writers included Howard Harris, Hal Fimberg, Parke Levy, Don Prindle, Eddie Cherkose (later known as Eddie Maxwell), Leonard B. Stern, Martin Ragaway, Paul Conlan, and Eddie Forman, as well as producer Martin Gosch. Sound effects were handled primarily by Floyd Caton. Guest stars were plentiful, including Frank Sinatra, The Andrews Sisters, and Lucille Ball.

In 1947 Abbott and Costello moved the show to ABC (the former NBC Blue Network). During their time on ABC, the duo also hosted a 30-minute children's radio program (The Abbott and Costello Children's Show),which aired Saturday mornings, featuring child vocalist Anna Mae Slaughter and child announcer Johnny McGovern.

More on Abbott and Costello at:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences is an American game show originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards (1940–1957) and later on television by Edwards (1950–1954), Jack Bailey (1954–1955), Bob Barker (1956–1975), Bob Hilton (1977–1978) and Larry Anderson (1987–1988). The television show ran on CBS, NBC and also in syndication. The premise of the show was to mix the original
quiz element of game shows with wacky stunts.

 On the show, contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly (usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly, or a bad joke) before "Beulah the Buzzer" sounded (in the rare occasion that the contestant answered the question correctly before Beulah was heard, the question inevitably had two or even three parts). If the contestant could not complete the "Truth" portion, there would be "Consequences," usually a zany and embarrassing stunt. From the start, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong in order to perform the stunt. Said Edwards, "Most of the American people are darned good sports."

Ralph Edwards stated he got the idea for a new radio program after playing the parlor game Forfeits. The show premiered on NBC radio in March, 1940 and was an instant hit with listeners.

Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television, airing as a one-time experiment on the first day of New York station WNBT's commercial program schedule on July 1, 1941. Truth or Consequences did not appear on TV again until 1950, when the medium had caught on commercially.

The program entered the lexicon of pop culture and has been referenced numerous times in other media.

In Action Comics #127 (December 1948), Superman was a contestant on Truth or Consequences.

The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, was renamed Truth or Consequences after the game show in 1950, when Ralph Edwards announced that he would host the program from the first town so renamed. Edwards himself continued to make appearances at the town's annual fiesta every May until his death.

A 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon titled The Ducksters featured Daffy Duck as the host of a radio game show called Truth or AAAAAHHHH!, with Porky Pig as the contestant.

On George Carlin's 1967 debut album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, the character Congolia Breckinridge appears on a similar show called Truth or Penalties (although at one point Carlin says the original show's name). Because she has too little time to buzz in, when she is invited to pull back the curtain, an empty stage is revealed. The host then announces, "We were going to reunite you with your sister, whom you haven't seen in 27 years, but you blew the question, so we sent your sister back to Maine."

A 1977 SCTV sketch featured the show as a news item on The SCTV Evening News when the host, Bert Parks (Dave Thomas), angry and tired of hosting the show, loses it and throws a bottle of acid in the face of the contestant (Andrea Martin), then pulls out a gun and shoots the studio audience.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Perry Mason

Perry Mason is a radio crime serial based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner. Broadcast weekdays on CBS Radio from 1943 to 1955, the series was adapted into The Edge of Night which ran on television for an additional 30 years.

 The 15-minute continuing series Perry Mason aired weekdays October 18, 1943 – December 30, 1955, on CBS Radio. Geared more towards action than courtroom drama, it mixed mystery and soap opera, with attorney Perry Mason sometimes even exchanging gunfire with criminals.

Erle Stanley Gardner's literary success with the Perry Mason novels convinced Warner Bros. to try its hand, unsuccessfully, with some motion pictures. However, the Perry Mason radio show stayed on the air for 12 years.

As The Edge of Night, it ran for another 30 years on television, but Gardner disliked the proposed daytime television version due to a lack of his own creative control. He ultimately withheld his endorsement of the daytime TV show, forcing the name change.

The actors portraying Mason switched frequently over the first three years of the show's run, starting with Bartlett Robinson, then followed by Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs. John Larkin took over the starring role March 31, 1947, and portrayed Perry Mason until the end of the series.

Radio's Perry Mason has more in common, in all but name, with the daytime serial The Edge of Night than the subsequent prime-time Perry Mason television show. As many radio serials moved to television, so was to be the destiny of Perry Mason. However, Gardner disagreed with the direction of the new show and pulled his support. The sponsor, Procter & Gamble hired the writers and staff of the Perry Mason radio series, the show was retooled, and it became The Edge of Night. The characters and setting were renamed. Gardner eventually aligned himself with the nighttime courtroom drama.

The Edge of Night was conceived as the daytime-TV version of Perry Mason. Mason's creator, Erle
Stanley Gardner, was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and CBS caused Gardner to pull his support. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.

Two actors who played Perry Mason on radio, Bartlett Robinson and John Larkin, appeared in episodes of the CBS-TV series, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Nick Carter, Master Detective

Nick Carter, Master Detective was a Mutual radio crime drama based on tales of the fictional private detective Nick Carter from Street & Smith's dime novels and pulp magazines. Nick Carter first came to radio as The Return of Nick Carter, a reference to the character's pulp origins, but the title was soon changed to Nick Carter, Master Detective. A veteran radio dramatist, Ferrin Fraser, wrote many of the scripts.

 With Lon Clark in the title role, the series commenced 11 April 1943, on Mutual, continuing in many different timeslots for well over a decade. Between October 1944 and April 1945, it was heard as a 30-minute program on Sunday afternoons at 3pm, sponsored by Acme Paints and Lin-X, with a 15-minute serial airing four or five times a week in 1944 from April to September. In April 1945, the Sunday series moved to 6pm, continuing in that timeslot until June 1946, and it was also heard in 1946 on Tuesday from March to August.

Sponsored by Cudahy Packing and Old Dutch Cleanser and later Acme Products (makers of such home-improvement chemicals as Kem-Tone paints and Lin-X floor-cleaning waxes, a near-rival to the more-popular Johnson's Wax products heard on numerous NBC Radio shows at the same time), the series finally settled in on Sundays at 6:30pm for broadcasts from August 18, 1946 to September 21, 1952. Libby Packing was the sponsor when the drama aired on Sundays at 6pm (1952-53). In the last two years of the long run (1953-55), the show was heard Sundays at 4:30pm.

Jock MacGregor was the producer-director of scripts by Alfred Bester, Milton J. Kramer, David
Kogan and others. Background music was supplied by organists Hank Sylvern, Lew White and George Wright. Walter B. Gibson, co-creator/writer of The Shadow pulp novels, was fired when he asked for a raise in 1946, and then became head writer for the Nick Carter radio series.
Oddly enough, he never liked to write scripts for the radio version of The Shadow, though both characters were published by Street & Smith.

Patsy Bowen, Nick's assistant, was portrayed by Helen Choate until mid-1946; then Charlotte Manson stepped into the role. Nick and Patsy's friend was reporter Scubby Wilson (John Kane). Sgt. Mathison (Ed Latimer) was Nick's contact at the police department. The supporting cast included Raymond Edward Johnson, Bill Johnstone and Bryna Raeburn. Michael Fitzmaurice was the program's announcer. The series ended on September 25, 1955.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Casebook of Gregory Hood

The Casebook of Gregory Hood was a radio detective program in the United States. It existed in several versions - with different stars on different networks in different years. Hood was an importer in San Francisco who dealt in rare items. John Dunning summarized the show's premise as follows: "With his sidekick Sanderson ('Sandy') Taylor, Hood traveled the world seeking artifacts for his import house. Each item found by Hood had an intriguing history and was inevitably linked to some present-day mystery." The character of Hood was based on real-life importer Richard Gump, who lived in San Francisco. Gump also was a consultant for the program.

Hood was a character with a multi-faceted personality. One website devoted to old-time radio wrote about him as follows:

Gregory Hood was also an accomplished pianist and composer, a self-taught forensics expert, spoke several languages fluently, was an expert in ancient and modern armament, had a military intelligence background, was a wine expert with an extensive rare wine cellar, and was an acknowledged expert in oriental tapestry. He lived in a penthouse on San Francisco's Nob Hill and employed a Chinese valet, Fong.

On June 3, 1946, The Casebook of Gregory Hood began on the Mutual Broadcasting System, replacing The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the summer. Although intended to be just a summer replacement, it continued in the fall, sponsored by Petri Wine. Jeffrey Marks, in his biography of co-creator Anthony Boucher, explained, "The show had originally been planned as a summer replacement for The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1946, but continued for the next year when the radio network had difficulty in reaching an agreement with the Conan Doyle estate." The program had another full-season run on ABC in 1949-50 and also "resurfaced periodically in summer slots."

The show was written by Boucher and Denis Green, who also teamed to write the Holmes show. Marks provided this background:

Boucher and Green did such a good job for the Holmes show that they were asked about writing an original series for Mutual Radio. Radio shows relied on new episodes. Just as TV airs re-runs during the summer, radio shows gave their actors a summer hiatus of 13 weeks. Networks frequently ran original short-run programming during the summer. Boucher and Green came up with "The Casebook of Gregory Hood" a San Francisco-based antiquities expert who seemed to find current day crimes in the artifacts that he dealt with. The Casebook of Gregory Hood was nearly identical to The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its opening: same sponsor, same announcement, same narrator frame for storytelling, and the same music. The narrator stopped by to visit Gregory either in his office or home, and the story was told by Hood. Hood's own Watson, Sandy Taylor, accompanied him. Taylor was Hood's lawyer and friend.

Gale Gordon played Gregory Hood in the initial version of the program. Others who had the leading role later were Elliott Lewis, Jackson Beck, Paul McGrath, Martin Gabel and George Petrie. Sidekick Sanderson Taylor was portrayed at various times by Art Gilmore, Carl Harbord, William Bakewell,  Howard McNear and Bill Johnstone.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bulldog Drummond

Bulldog Drummond was a radio crime drama in the United States. It was broadcast on Mutual April 13, 1941 – March 28, 1954.

 Bulldog Drummond was "a British investigator called 'Bulldog' because he was relentless in the pursuit of criminals." The character was created by British author H. C. McNeile. In addition to McNeile's books, Drummond was featured in a series of films from Paramount Pictures in the 1930s. Drummond was described as "a polished man-about-town, whose hobby is crime detection and the apprehension of criminals."

Radio historian John Dunning commented, "With his sidekick Denny, Captain Hugh Drummond solved the usual run of murders, collected the usual run of bumps on the head, and ran afoul of underworld characters ranging from radium thieves to counterfeiters." In a 1948 column in the Oakland Tribune, media critic John Crosby called the program "the first of the more successful exemplars of radio espionage and intrigue."

One notable aspect of Bulldog Drummond was its opening (created by producer-director Himan Brown), which "evoked a London ambiance with footsteps, a foghorn, shots, and three blasts of a police whistle." Following the sound effects, an announcer introduced the program with the line, "Out of the fog ... out of the night ... and into his American adventures ... comes ... Bulldog Drummond."

The program was initially set in Great Britain, but after two months the setting was moved to the
United States, thus leading some sources to identify it as The American Adventures of Bulldog Drummond. In another change from the books, the radio program omitted Drummond's wife "and his gaggle of ex-army comrades." He did, however, keep his butler, Denny.

Drummond and Denny were the series' only regular characters. Over the years, Drummond was played by George Coulouris, Santos Ortega, Ned Wever, and Cedric Hardwicke. Actors portraying Denny were Everett Sloane, Luis van Rooten, and Rod Hendrickson. Others appearing frequently on the program were Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ray Collins, and Mercedes McCambridge.

Announcers for Bulldog Drummond were Ted Brown, Henry Morgan, and Robert Shepard. The show's writers were Allan E. Sloane, Leonard Leslie, Edward J. Adamson, and Jay Bennett.

Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger was an NBC radio series, a foreign intrigue adventure adapted from the book Cloak and Dagger by Corey Ford.

 A syndicated transcription package produced by the Louis G. Cowan agency, Cloak and Dagger was broadcast from May 7 to October 22, 1950, with a cast that included Raymond Edward Johnson, Everett Sloane and Jackson Beck. Scriptwriter Wyllis Cooper directed the series with research support provided by Percy Hoskins, British journalist, crime reporter and author.

Stories on Cloak and Dagger "came right out of Washington files" of the Office of Strategic Services. A 1950 newspaper article commented, "The stories dramatized each week are true, and yet as fantastic as any fiction writer might be able to dream up."

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was a wartime intelligence agency, and a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the United States Armed Forces branches. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cavalcade of America

 Cavalcade of America is an anthology drama series that was sponsored by the DuPont Company, although it occasionally presented a musical, such as an adaptation of Show Boat,and condensed biographies of popular composers. It was initially broadcast on radio from 1935 to 1953, and later on television from 1952 to 1957. Originally on CBS, the series pioneered the use of anthology drama for company audio advertising.

Cavalcade of America documented historical events using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, often with feel-good dramatizations of the human spirit's triumph against all odds. This was consistent with DuPont's overall conservative philosophy and legacy as an American company dating back to 1802. The company's motto, "Maker of better things for better living through chemistry," was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation.

The show started as part of a successful campaign to reinvigorate DuPont. In the early 1930s, the Nye Committee investigations concluded that DuPont had made a fortune profiteering in World War I. The company stood accused of encouraging an arms race between WWI enemies, after being heavily subsidized by the Allies to increase black powder production. The negative effects of the investigation left the company demoralized, directionless and with a tarnished corporate image in the middle of the Great Depression.

DuPont's products were primarily not for public consumption, so there was no purpose in promoting them through advertising. As a solution to DuPont's troubles, Roy Durstine, then creative director of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, proposed the creation of Cavalcade of America using the company motto. This was to be an important element in the successful re-branding of DuPont as an American legacy engaged in making products for the well-being of Americans and humanity in general.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Crime Club

The Crime Club was an imprint of the Doubleday publishing company, which later spawned a 1946-47 anthology radio series.

 Many classic and popular works of detective and mystery fiction had their first U.S. editions published via the Crime Club, including all 50 books of The Saint by Leslie Charteris (1928-1983). The imprint also published first editions in Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series.

The Crime Club began life in 1928 with the publication of The Desert Moon Mystery by Kay Cleaver Strahan, and ceased publication in 1991. In the intervening 63 years, The Crime Club published 2,492 titles.

Stories from this imprint were first dramatized on The Eno Crime Club, a detective series broadcast on CBS from February 9, 1931 to December 21, 1932, sponsored by Eno Effervescent Salts. The Crime Club novels were not adapted for the later Eno Crime Clues, heard on the Blue Network from January 3, 1933 to June 30. 1936.

The Crime Club returned on the Mutual Broadcasting System as a half-hour radio series with adaptations from the Doubleday imprint. Each installment was introduced by the series host, The Librarian, portrayed by Barry Thomson and Raymond Edward Johnson (who was better known as the host of Inner Sanctum Mysteries). The series began December 2, 1946 and continued until October 16, 1947.

In the late 1930s, Universal Pictures made a deal with Doubleday to use The Crime Club imprint for a series of 11 Crime Club mystery films. These films were released from 1937 to 1939, starting with The Westlake Case.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip.

The Flash Gordon comic strip has been translated into a wide variety of media, including motion pictures, television and animated series.

The Buck Rogers comic strip had been very commercially successful, spawning novelizations and children's toys. King Features Syndicate decided to create their own science fiction comic strip to compete with it. At first King Features tried to purchase the rights to the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs; however, the syndicate were unable to reach an agreement with Burroughs.

King Features then turned to Alex Raymond, one of their staff artists, to create the story. Raymond's first samples were dismissed for not containing enough action sequences. Raymond reworked the story and sent it back to the syndicate, who accepted it. Raymond was partnered with ghostwriter Don Moore (1904-1986), an experienced editor and writer. Raymond's first Flash Gordon story appeared in January 1934, alongside Jungle Jim.

The Flash Gordon strip was well received by newspaper readers, becoming one of the most popular
American comic strips of the 1930s. Like Buck Rogers, the success of Flash Gordon resulted in numerous licensed products being sold, including pop-up books, colouring books, and toy spaceships and rayguns.

Starting April 22, 1935, the strip was adapted into The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, a 26-episode weekly radio serial. The series followed the strip very closely, amounting to a week-by-week adaptation of the Sunday strip for most of its run.

Flash Gordon was played by Gale Gordon, later famous for his television roles in Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy (the latter two with Lucille Ball). The cast also included Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Bruno Wick as Ming the Merciless.

The radio series broke with the strip continuity in the last two episodes, when Flash, Dale and Zarkov
returned to Earth. They make a crash landing in Africa, where they meet Jungle Jim, the star of another of Alex Raymond's comic strips.

The series ended on October 26, 1935 with Flash and Dale's marriage. The next week, The Adventures of Jungle Jim picked up in that Saturday timeslot.

Two days later, on October 28, The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon debuted as a
daily show, running five days a week. This series strayed further from Raymond's strip, involving Flash, Dale and Zarkov in an adventure in Atlantis. The series aired 74 episodes, ending on February 6, 1936.

For a more in depth look at the adventures of Flash Gordon and his cast of characters in all of their extensive media translations, visit the Flash Gordon Wiki page.