Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vic and Sade

Vic and Sade was an American radio program created and written by Paul Rhymer. It was regularly broadcast on radio from 1932 to 1944, then intermittently until 1946, and was briefly adapted to television in 1949 and again in 1957.

 During its 14-year run on radio, Vic and Sade became one of the most popular series of its kind, earning critical and popular success: according to Time, Vic and Sade had 7,000,000 devoted listeners in 1943. For the majority of its span on the air, Vic and Sade was heard in 15-minute episodes without a continuing storyline. The central characters, known as "radio's home folks", were accountant Victor Rodney Gook (Art Van Harvey), his wife Sade (Bernardine Flynn) and their adopted son Rush (Bill Idelson). The three lived on Virginia Avenue in "the small house halfway up in the next block."

Vic and Sade was written by the prodigious Paul Rhymer for the entire length of its long run. The principal characters were a married couple living in "the small house halfway up in the next block." After the first weeks in production an extra character, an adopted son, was added to the show, and it was in this format, with only three characters, that the program thrived for the next eight years and won many awards for the writer, actors and sponsor.

In 1940, the actor who played Vic, Art Van Harvey, became ill, and Sade's Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) was added to the cast to fill the place of the missing male lead. When Van Harvey recovered his health, Uncle Fletcher was kept on as a fourth character. During World War II, the actor who played Rush, Bill Idelson, was called into military service, and he left the show. The spring months of 1943 were a tumultuous period, but eventually a second son figure, Russell Miller (David Whitehouse), was brought in, and the program continued as it always had. The show faltered somewhat with Whitehouse, who sounded as if he was reading his lines aloud in school. Idelson later returned as Rush.

Paul Rhymer frequently gave each of the principals a day off, by confining his scripts to only two of the main characters. Vic and Sade would discuss a domestic problem while Rush was in school; Sade and Rush would review the day's events while Vic was still at the office; Vic and Rush would tackle some project while Sade was out shopping. Several episodes deliberately make no forward progress whatever, as the cast introduces the episode's premise but gets bogged down in endless details. Rhymer evidently felt some pressure from the sponsor's advertising agencies to include more romance and human interaction into his scripts, like the other daytime dramas on the air. He complied by adding ridiculous touches (his romantic lead, Dwight Twentysixler, always speaks with his "mouth full of shingle nails"!) and oddball characters (Orville Wheeney, the slow-witted gas-meter man; Jimmy Custard, the crochety town official who never quite makes clear what he does as the City Calistrator with the statistics he collects; Mr. Sprawl, the frail old man who dotes on "peanuts with chocolate smeared on the outsides").

Vic and Sade went off the air September 29, 1944 but was brought back several times. In 1945, the cast was augmented to include many characters who were previously only talked about. In 1946 it was a summer replacement series, now in a half-hour format and played in front of a live studio audience. Later that year it became a sustaining (unsponsored) feature on the Mutual network. In 1949 three television episodes were made (with only Flynn remaining from the original cast), using an elaborate set that included the whole house as well as the front and back yards; the three episodes aired as part of the Colgate Theatre anthology series. In 1957 a series entitled The Humor of Vic 'n' Sade ran for seven weeks, returning to the original three-character format with 15-minute episodes, a multi-camera setup and a small, stripped-down, bare set. Both Flynn and Van Harvey reprised their roles, with teen actor Eddie Gillian as Rush; the revival was cut short when Van Harvey died in July 1957.

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