Friday, December 30, 2016

Jack Benny: New Years Eve Programs

Jack Benny, born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor.

Widely recognized as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, Benny played the role of the comic penny-pinching miser, insisting on remaining 39 years old on stage despite his actual age, and often (although an accomplished violinist) playing the violin - poorly!

Benny was known for his comic timing and ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature wave of the hand with an exasperated "Well!"

His radio & television programs, tremendously popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a foundational influence on the situation comedy genre. Dean Martin, on the celebrity roast for Johnny Carson in November 1973, introduced Benny as "the Satchel Paige of the world of comedy."

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny was so successful in selling Jell-O, in fact, that General Foods could not manufacture it fast enough when sugar shortages arose in the early years of World War II, and the company had to stop advertising the popular dessert mix. via

The Jack Benny Program: Goodbye 1938, Hello 1939 - January 1, 1939

The Jack Benny Program: No Date for New Year's Eve - December 31, 1939

The Jack Benny Program: Father Time Rides Again - December 29, 1940

The Jack Benny Program: New Years Eve Skit - December 27, 1942

The Jack Benny Program: New Year's Eve Party at the Biltmore Bowl - January 4, 1942

The Jack Benny Program: Jack Resolves to Be Friends with Fred Allen - December 31, 1944

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Frontier Gentleman

Frontier Gentleman is a radio Western series originally broadcast on the CBS network from February 2 to November 16, 1958, initially heard Sunday afternoons at 2:30pm (Eastern Time) through March when it moved to 7pm. 

The program opened with a trumpet theme by Jerry Goldsmith and this introduction:

Herewith, an Englishman's account of life and death in the West. As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual accounts. But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories. Now, starring John Dehner, this is the story of J. B. Kendall, Frontier Gentleman...

The character's full name is Jeremy Brian Kendall. This was revealed in the episode "Belle Sidon's Encore".

Written, produced and directed by Antony Ellis, it followed the adventures of journalist Kendall as he roamed the Western United States in search of stories for the Times. Along the way, he encountered various fictional drifters and outlaws in addition to well-known historical figures, such as Jesse James, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.

 Music for the series was by Wilbur Hatch and Jerry Goldsmith, who also supplied the opening trumpet theme.

The announcers were Dan Cubberly, Johnny Jacobs, Bud Sewell and John Wald.

 Supporting cast: Harry Bartell, Lawrence Dobkin, Virginia Gregg, Stacy Harris, Johnny Jacobs, Joseph Kearns, Jack Kruschen, Jack Moyles, Jeanette Nolan, Vic Perrin and Barney Phillips.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from VINTRAD- Vintage Radio Blog!

This Christmas, our hope is that you are able to take a few moments for yourself and enjoy this variety of Christmas themed old time radio programs chosen especially for you!

We hope you enjoy!

Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! Thank you for your continued support!

Lux Radio Theatre: Miracle On 34th Street - December 20, 1948

Kraft Music Hall with Bing Crosby: Christmas Show - December 21, 1944

The Pepsodent Show starring Bob Hope w/ Bing Crosby - December 24, 1946

The Big Show starring Louis Armstrong, Bob Hope, Martin & Lewis, Deborah Kerr and Bing Crosby - December 17, 1950

Life Of Riley: Riley's First Christmas - December 20, 1947

Our Miss Brooks: Christmas Re-Gifting Mix-Ups - December 20, 1953

The Shadow: The Stockings Were Hung - December 24, 1939

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Christmas Bride - December 21, 1947

Abbott and Costello: Christmas Programs

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:

Abbott & Costello: Christmas Shopping for Lou's Girlfriend - December 14, 1944

Abbott & Costello: Lou's Christmas Party - December 20, 1945

Abbott & Costello: Christmas Program - December 24, 1947

Abbott & Costello: Sam Shovel - I'm All Yours in Buttons and Bows - December 23, 1948

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Duffy's Tavern: Christmas Programs

Duffy's Tavern was a popular American radio situation comedy which ran for a decade on several networks (CBS, 1941–1942; NBC-Blue Network, 1942–1944; NBC, 1944–1951), concluding with the December 28, 1951 broadcast.

 The program often featured celebrity guest stars but always hooked them around the misadventures, get-rich-quick schemes and romantic missteps of the title establishment's malaprop-prone, metaphor-mixing manager, Archie, portrayed by Ed Gardner, the writer/actor who co-created the series. Gardner had performed the character of Archie, talking about Duffy's Tavern, as early as November 9, 1939, when he appeared on NBC's Good News of 1940.

In the familiar opening, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," performed either solo on an old-sounding piano or by a larger orchestra, was interrupted by the ring of a telephone and Gardner's New Yorkese accent as he answered, "Hello, Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speakin'. Duffy ain't here—oh, hello, Duffy."

Owner Duffy was never heard nor seen, either on the radio program or in the 1945 film adaptation or the short-lived 1954 TV series. Archie constantly bantered with Duffy's man-crazy daughter, Miss Duffy (played by several actresses, beginning with Gardner's real-life first wife, Shirley Booth), and especially with Clifton Finnegan (Charlie Cantor, later Sid Raymond), a likeable soul with several screws loose and a knack for falling for every other salesman's scam. Eddie the Waiter was played by Eddie Green; the pianist Fats Pichon took over the role after Green's death in 1950. Hoping to take advantage of the income tax free status of Puerto Rico for future projects, Gardner moved the radio show there in 1949.

Radio's Duffy's Tavern didn't translate well to film or television. Burrows and Matt Brooks collaborated on the screenplay for the 1945 film, Ed Gardner's Duffy's Tavern, in which Archie (with regulars Eddie and Finnegan) was surrounded by a throng of Paramount Pictures stars playing themselves.

The 1954 syndicated TV series, co-produced by Hal Roach, Jr., lacked leading name guest stars and, according to writer Larry Rhine, it was weighted by Gardner's inability to adapt to camera work: "He couldn't act, and he wouldn't learn camera... He thought he could do TV, so he left radio, but he was a bad actor and knew it." The series failed to gain viewer support.

Duffy's Tavern: Christmas Program with Monty Woolley - December 22, 1944

Duffy's Tavern: The Cast Does 'A Christmas Carol' - December 21, 1945

Duffy's Tavern: Charles Coburn Plays Santa Claus - December 22, 1950

Friday, December 23, 2016

CBS Radio Mystery Theater: Christmas Edition!

Three Christmas-themed episodes of The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, created by Himan Brown and hosted by E.G. Marshall (one of the grandfathers on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation). The first two episodes are presented exactly as aired on WBBM, Chicago in December 1978 complete with original commercials, news and even weather reports!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Saint: Christmas Eve Problems

Simon Templar is a British fictional character known as The Saint. He featured in a long-running series of books by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963. After that date, other authors collaborated with Charteris on books until 1983; two additional works produced without Charteris’s participation were published in 1997. The character has also been portrayed in motion pictures, radio dramas, comic strips, comic books and three television series.

 Simon Templar is a Robin Hood-like criminal known as The Saint — plausibly from his initials; but the exact reason for his nickname is not known (although we're told that he was given it at the age of nineteen). Templar has aliases, often using the initials S.T. such as "Sebastian Tombs" or "Sugarman Treacle". Blessed with boyish humor, he makes humorous and off-putting remarks and leaves a "calling card" at his "crimes", a stick figure of a man with a halo. This is used as the logo of the books, the movies, and the 1960s TV series. He is described as "buccaneer in the suits of Savile Row, amused, cool, debonair, with hell-for-leather blue eyes and a saintly smile..."

 Several radio drama series were produced in North America, Ireland, and Britain. The earliest was for Radio Eireann's Radio Athlone in 1940 and starred Terence De Marney. Both NBC and CBS produced Saint series during 1945, starring Edgar Barrier and Brian Aherne.

Many early shows were adaptations of published stories, although Charteris wrote several storylines for the series which were novelised as short stories and novellas. The longest-running radio incarnation was Vincent Price, who played the character in a series between 1947 and 1951 on three networks: CBS, Mutual and NBC.

Like The Whistler, the program had an opening whistle theme with footsteps. Some sources say the whistling theme for The Saint was created by Leslie Charteris while others credit RKO composer Roy Webb. Price left in May 1951, replaced by Tom Conway, who played the role for several more months. His brother, George Sanders, had played Templar on film. The next English-language radio series aired on Springbok Radio in South Africa between 1953 and 1957. These were fresh adaptations of the original stories and starred Tom Meehan. Around 1965–66 the South African version of Lux Radio Theatre produced a single dramatization of The Saint. The English service of South Africa produced another series radio adventures for six months in 1970–1971. The next English-language incarnation was a series of three radio plays on BBC Radio 4 in 1995 starring Paul Rhys.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Skelton: Christmas Programs

The son of a former circus clown turned grocer and a cleaning woman, Red Skelton was introduced to show business at the age of seven by Ed Wynn, at a vaudeville show in Vincennes. At age 10, he left home to travel with a medicine show through the Midwest, and joined the vaudeville circuit at age 15. At age 17, he married Edna Marie Stilwell, an usher who became his vaudeville partner and later his chief writer and manager.

He debuted on Broadway and radio in 1937 and on film in 1938. His ex-wife/manager negotiated a seven-year Hollywood contract for him in 1951, the same year "The Red Skelton Hour" (1951) premiered on NBC. For two decades, until 1971, his show consistently stayed in the top twenty, both on NBC and CBS. His numerous characters, including Clem Kaddiddlehopper, George Appleby, and the seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe delighted audiences for decades.

Skelton and his wife put together an act and began to get bookings for it at some of the smaller vaudeville theaters. They somehow made their way to the Lido Club in Montreal. Despite the language barrier, the act was a success, and brought the couple theater dates throughout Canada. While in Montreal, Skelton and Edna devised the well-known "Doughnut Dunkers" routine, with Skelton's visual impressions of how different people ate doughnuts. The problem with doing this type of act was that Skelton had to eat nine doughnuts at every performance. He was performing five times a day and eating 45 doughnuts. Skelton gained almost 35 pounds rapidly and had to shelve the routine for a while until he lost the weight.

The "Doughnut Dunkers" routine also led to Skelton's first appearance on The Rudy Vallee Show on August 12, 1937. The program had a talent show segment and those who were searching for stardom were eager to be heard on it. The show received enough fan mail after Skelton's performance to invite the comedian back two weeks after his initial appearance and again in November of that year. On October 1, 1938, Skelton replaced Red Foley as the host of Avalon Time on NBC; Edna also joined the show's cast. Skelton continued as the show's host until late 1939, when he went on to begin his MGM movie career.

Skelton's success in films meant a regular radio show offer. He went on the air with his own program, The Raleigh Cigarettes Program, on October 7, 1941. The bandleader for the show was Ozzie Nelson; his wife, Harriet, who worked under her maiden name of Hilliard, was the show's vocalist and also worked with Skelton in skits.

Additional Source: IMDB

Red Skelton Show: Christmas Shopping - December 12, 1942

Red Skelton: Christmas Trees - December 25, 1945

Red Skelton Show: Christmas Stories - December 24, 1946

Red Skelton Show: Christmas Show - December 25, 1949

Red Skelton Show: The Christmas Tree - December 19, 1951

Red Skelton Show: Day After Christmas - December 26, 1951

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Fred Allen Show: Christmas Programs

The Fred Allen Show was a popular and long-running American old-time radio comedy program starring comedian Fred Allen and his wife Portland Hoffa. Over the course of the program's 17-year run, it was sponsored by Linit Bath Soaps, Hellmann's, Ipana, Sal Hepatica, Texaco and Tenderleaf Tea. The program ended in 1949 under the sponsorship of the Ford Motor Company.

 The most popular period of the program was the few years of sponsorship under the Texaco Gas Company. During this time, the program was known as Texaco Star Theatre with Fred Allen. On the December 6, 1942 episode of the program, Allen premiered his first in a series of segments known as "Allen's Alley". The segments would have Allen strolling through an imaginary neighborhood, knocking on the "doors" of various neighbors, including average-American John Doe (played by John Brown), Mrs. Nussbaum (Minerva Pious), pompous poet Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed), Titus Moody (Parker Fennelly), and boisterous southern senator Beuregard Claghorn (announcer Kenny Delmar). Texaco ended its sponsorship of the program in 1944.

Some prominent guest stars on Allen's program ove the years included Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles, Roy Rogers, Bela Lugosi, Ed Gardner, Norman Corwin and Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy.

Fred Allen: Linit Bath Club Revue - Mammoth Department Store - December 25, 1932

Fred Allen: Town Hall Tonight - Santa Will Not Ride Tonight w/Jack Benny - December 22, 1937

Fred Allen: Texaco Star Theater - Otto Hottendorf - Decemeber 25, 1940

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Great Gildersleeve: Christmas Programs

The Great Gildersleeve (1941–1957), initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson, was one of broadcast history's earliest spin-off programs. Built around Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a character who had been a staple on the classic radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. First introduced to FMAM on 10/3/39 ep #216. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest success in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in a quartet of feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.
On Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary's Gildersleeve was a pompous windbag who became a consistent McGee nemesis. "You're a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee!" became a Gildersleeve catchphrase.

The character was given several conflicting first names on Fibber McGee and Molly, and on one episode his middle name was revealed as Philharmonic. Gildy admits as much at the end of "Gildersleeve's Diary" on the Fibber McGee and Molly series (10/22/40).
He soon became so popular that Kraft Foods—looking primarily to promote its Parkay margarine spread — sponsored a new series with Peary's Gildersleeve as the central, slightly softened and slightly befuddled focus of a lively new family.

Actor Harold Peary was a much appreciated talent on the old radio series, "Fibber McGee and Molly". Over the course of time, he played a number of different characters, like a butcher or a delivery man. Eventually, the writers created the character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve for Peary to portray. Stuffy "Gildy" was the next-door neighbor of the McGee's, so now Peary could portray the major plot point in some episodes. But even this major supporting role was not enough to contain the actor's talents. So in 1941, "The Great Gildersleeve" spun-off into his very own radio series.

With a dedicated program, Harold Peary and his writers greatly expanded the depths of the Gildersleeve character. The show ran for 13 years (1941-1954), with over 550 shows produced. There were also four "official" Gildersleeve movies, and Peary appeared as Gildersleeve in a number of other films. In the fifties there was a "Great Gildersleeve" TV series, which ran for one season and resulted in 39 episodes.

However, it was not Peary who appeared in the TV series. Back in 1950, Peary's agent saw an opportunity to better his client's deal. He moved Peary from NBC to CBS. Unfortunately, the agent didn't cover all the bases of the deal, as CBS found they could not put him on as "The Great Gildersleeve", NBC still owned the rights to the character. They got Peary but not "The Great Gildersleeve" program. So CBS created a different series for Peary to play in, titled "Honest Harold". Starting on September 6, 1950, Peary's old friend Willard Waterman continued the Gildersleeve character successfully for the remaining four years of its run, then onto the year-run of the television series. Harold Peary showed up two years after that as Mayor LaTrivia on the TV version of "Fibber McGee and Molly".

via Wikipedia and

The Great Gildersleeve: Christmas Caroling at Gildersleeve's -  December 25, 1946

The Great Gildersleeve: Leroy's Holiday Job -  December 1, 1948

The Great Gildersleeve: Disappearing Christmas Presents -  December 8, 1948

The Great Gildersleeve: Christmas Shopping -  December 15, 1948

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show: Christmas Programs

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, a comedy radio program, ran on NBC from 1948 to 1954, evolving from an earlier music and comedy variety program, The Fitch Bandwagon. Singer-bandleader Phil Harris and his wife, actress-singer Alice Faye, became the earlier show's breakout stars, and the show was retooled into a full situation comedy, with Harris and Faye playing fictionalized versions of themselves as a working show business couple raising two daughters in a slightly madcap home.

Harris had been a mainstay and musical director for The Jack Benny Program; Faye had been a frequent guest on programs such as Rudy Vallée's. Their marriage provoked a 1941 episode of the Benny show.

The growing popularity of the Harris-Faye family sketches turned the program into their own comic vehicle by 1947. When announcer Bill Foreman hailed, "Good health to all... from Rexall!" on October 3, 1948, The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show launched its independent life under Rexall's sponsorship with a debut storyline about the fictitious day the couple signed their sponsorship deal. The show was a quick success and its position in that powerhouse NBC Sunday lineup didn't hurt. Playing themselves as radio and music star parents of two precocious young daughters (played by actresses Jeanine Roos and Ann Whitfield, instead of the Harrises' own young daughters), Harris refined his character from the booze-and-broads, hipster jive talker he had been on the Benny show ("Hiya, Jackson!" was his usual hail to Benny) into a slightly vain (particularly about his wavy hair and the dimpled smile that always hinted mischief) and dunderheaded husband who usually needed rescuing by Faye as his occasionally tart but always loving wife. References to his hair and vanity became a running gag.

Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show: A Present for Phil - December 15, 1946

Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show:  Jack Benny as Santa - December 19, 1948

Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show: The Christmas Present - December 26, 1948

Phil Harris Alice Faye Show: Alice Volunteers Phil to Play Santa Claus - December 21, 1952

Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show: Hosting French Refugee Kids for Christmas - December 25, 1953

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fibber McGee and Molly: Christmas Programs

Fibber McGee and Molly was an American radio comedy series that maintained its popularity over decades. It premiered on NBC in 1935 and continued until 1959, long after radio had ceased to be the dominant form of entertainment in American popular culture.

 There are people who would argue that Fibber McGee and Molly were the Golden Age of radio. This is partly because of the show's very long (1935-1959) and successful run. But more than just staying power, the show showcased terrific comic and musical talent. Throughout its run, the show was a reflection of its time in the American scene.

The genesis of the program can be traced to a local Chicago show that would become Smackout. Fibber McGee and Molly would go on to great success despite (or perhaps because of) the vaudeville sensibilities of its creators and stars, married couple Jim and Marian Jordan.

Living in the fictional Midwestern city of Wistful Vista, Fibber was an American teller of tall tales and a braggart, usually to the exasperation of his long suffering wife Molly. Life in Wistful Vista followed a well developed formula, but was always fresh. Fibber's weekly schemes would be interrupted, inspired by, and often played upon the People of Wistful Vista, a set of regular players and characters that were as beloved as the stars of the program. The program used a series of running gags that would become part of the common language, many treasures can be found in the Closet at 79 Wistful Vista.

The show began as a comic reflection of Depression Era America, but as time went on and the shadows of war came over the nation, the show again caught the mood of the country. WWII was fought on the Home front on Wistful Vista as surely as anywhere else in America, but here they had the benefit of Fibber's somewhat addled perspective.

The show was formally "The Johnson Wax show with Fibber McGee and Molly." Longtime sponsor S.C. Johnson Wax Company saw the value of saving the episodes they sponsored, thereby preserving this treasure for fans of Old Time Radio today.

One of the funniest, most cleverly written shows you will find. The show ran for an epic 24 years on the radio. The show had a huge influence on popular culture as well. Catch phrases that originated on Fibber McGee and Molly like, "Tain't funny, McGee!" "That ain't the way I heered it!" "Snooky," and "Whatsay?" were common vernacular of the time.

Recently, on an episode of NCIS, Abby Sciutto reprimanded Timothy McGee with the line "T'ain't funny, McGee" as a nod to the show.

Sources: and Fibber McGee and Molly on Wikipedia

Fibber McGee and Molly: Mailing Christmas Packages -  December 10, 1940

Fibber McGee and Molly: Fibber Cuts His Own Tree -  December 16, 1941

Fibber McGee and Molly: Looking for a Christmas Tree -  December 21, 1943

Fibber McGee and Molly: Early Christmas Presents -  December 19, 1944

Fibber McGee and Molly: Making Christmas Cards -  December 6, 1949

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jack Benny Christmas Favorites!

Most of the programs during the Golden Age of Radio did special shows near the holidays. Some of the funniest most enjoyable of these are the Christmas shows Jack Benny and his troupe performed every year.

"One extremely popular scenario that became an annual tradition on The Jack Benny Program was the "Christmas Shopping" episode, in which Benny would head to a local department store. Each year, Benny would buy a ridiculously cheap Christmas gift for Don Wilson from a store clerk played by Mel Blanc. Benny would then have second (then third, and even fourth) thoughts about his gift choice, driving Blanc (or, in two other cases, his wife and his psychiatrist, as well) to hilarious insanity by exchanging the gift, pestering about the Christmas card or wrapping paper countless times throughout the episode: in many cases, the clerk would commit suicide, or attempt and fail to commit suicide ("Look what you done! You made me so nervous, I missed!") as a result.

In the 1946 Christmas episode, for example, Benny buys shoelaces for Don, and then is unable to make up his mind whether to give Wilson shoelaces with plastic tips or shoelaces with metal tips. After Benny exchanges the shoelaces repeatedly, Mel Blanc is heard screaming insanely, "Plastic tips! Metal tips! I can't stand it anymore!"

A variation in 1948 concerned Benny buying an expensive wallet for Don, but repeatedly changing the greeting card inserted—prompting Blanc to shout: "I haven't run into anyone like you in 20 years! Oh, why did the governor have to give me that pardon!?" – until Benny realizes that he should have gotten Don a wallet for $1.98, whereupon the put-upon clerk immediately responds by committing suicide. Over the years, in these Christmas episodes, Benny bought and repeatedly exchanged cuff links, golf tees, a box of dates, a paint set, and even a gopher trap." -via Wikipedia

Enjoy this collection of Jack Benny Christmas shows and have a very Merry Christmas!

"Christmas Shopping" - December 5, 1954.

"Gopher Trap for Don" - December 14, 1952.

"Setting Up Christmas Tree" - December 21, 1952.

"Christmas Party at Birmingham General Hospital" - December 22, 1946.

When Benny transitioned to TV, the tradition continued. Benny’s December 18, 1960 Christmas shopping episode is a TV classic. Mel Blanc reprising his role as a harried clerk who goes the extra mile to please his very finicky customer.

Pete Kelly's Blues

Pete Kelly's Blues was an American crime-musical [radio [drama]] which aired over NBC as an unsponsored summer replacement series on Wednesday nights at 8pm(et) from July 4 through September 19, 1951. The series starred Jack Webb as Pete Kelly and was created by writer Richard L. Breen, who had previously worked with Webb on Pat Novak for Hire; James Moser and Jo Eisinger wrote most of the other scripts. Set in Kansas City in the 1920s, the series was a crime drama with a strong musical atmosphere (Webb was a noted Dixieland jazz enthusiast).

 Pete Kelly was a musician, a cornet player who headed his own jazz combo, "Pete Kelly's Big Seven." They worked at 417 Cherry Street, a speakeasy run by George Lupo, often mentioned but never heard. Kelly, narrating the series, described Lupo as a "fat, friendly little guy." The plots typically centered on Kelly's reluctant involvement with gangsters, gun molls, FBI agents, and people trying to save their own skins. The endings were often downbeat.

The supporting cast was minimal; apart from the off-mike character Lupo and occasional speaking parts by the band members (notably Red the bass player, played by Jack Kruschen), the only other regular role of note was Maggie Jackson, the torch singer at another club (Fat Annie's, "across the river on the Kansas side"), played by blues singer Meredith Howard. In one episode, Bessie Smith is mentioned as the singer at Fat Annie's instead of Maggie Jackson. Boozy ex-bootlegger Barney Ricketts would show up occasionally, an informant not unlike the character Jocko Madigan on Webb and Breen's Pat Novak for Hire. The episodic roles were filled by William Conrad (as various mob bosses), Vic Perrin, and Roy Glenn, amongst others. The music dominated the series. In addition to one song by Maggie Jackson, each episode boasted two jazz numbers by the "Big Seven." The group was actually led by Dick Cathcart, the cornet player who was Pete Kelly's musical stand-in. The other members of the group, all well known jazz musicians, included Matty Matlock on clarinet, Moe Schneider on trombone, piano player Ray Sherman, bass player Morty Corb, guitarist Bill Newman, and drummer Nick Fatool. The show's announcer was another frequent Webb collaborator, George Fenneman, who would open each show with "This one's about Pete Kelly."

The series lasted only three months, but inspired a 1955 film version of Pete Kelly's Blues, in which Jack Webb produced, directed and starred. It used many of the same musicians, including Cathcart, and Ella Fitzgerald was cast as Maggie Jackson. A lesser-known television version, still produced and directed by Webb but with William Reynolds in the lead, aired in 1959, using scripts originally written for the radio version.

After the film, two albums were released, a soundtrack recording and Pete Kelly Lets His Hair Down, an instrumental album using the musicians from the series with songs arranged by tempo - "blue songs" and "red songs" with names such as "Peacock," '"Periwinkle," "Midnight," "Rouge," "Flame'" and '"Fire Engine." This LP was released by Rhino Records as one-half of a Webb compilation disc, Just The Tracks, Ma’am.

Jack Webb Pete Kelly's Blues Original Full Length Movie Trailer

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jeff Regan, Investigator

Jeff Regan, Investigator was one of the three detective shows Jack Webb did before Dragnet (see also Pat Novak For Hire and Johnny Modero: Pier 23). Originally a Summer radio series, it debuted on CBS in July 1948. Webb played Jeff Regan, a rough-and-tough private eye working for the Los Angeles-based International Detective Bureau, run by Anthony J. Lyon. Regan introduced himself on each show "I get ten a day and expenses...they call me the Lion's Eye." 

The show was fairly well-plotted, Webb's voice was great, and the supporting cast were skillful.

Regan handled rough assignments from Lyon, with whom he was not always on good terms. He was tough, tenacious, and had a dry sense of humor. The voice of his boss, Anthony Lyon, was Wilms Herbert. The show ended in December 1948 but was resurrected in October 1949 with a new cast; Frank Graham played Regan (later Paul Dubrov was the lead) and Frank Nelson portrayed Lyon. This version ran on CBS, sometimes as a West Coast regional, until August 1950. Both versions were 30 minutes, but the day and time slot changed several times. A total of 29 episodes from this series are in trading currency.

Info via

Frank Graham Episodes-

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Johnny Modero, Pier 23

Johnny Modero, Pier 23 was a 30-minute radio detective drama series which was broadcast on Mutual Thursday at 8 p.m. from April 24, 1947 to September 4, 1947. It was the first nationwide program for star Jack Webb.

The storylines follow the footsteps of fast-talking, wisecracking Johnny Madero (Webb), who runs a boat shop on the San Francisco waterfront, rents boats and usually drops in for a weekly chat with Father Leahy (Gale Gordon). When investigating a crime, Modero manages to solve the mystery before tough cop Warchek (William Conrad). The supporting cast sometimes included Betty Lou Gerson, Elaine Burke, Bob Holden, Herb Butterfield, Irvin Lee and Herb Rawlinson.

Harry Zimmerman provided the background music. Nat Wolff directed the scripts by Richard Breen, Herb Margolis and Lou Markheim. The program's announcer was Tony LaFranco.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pat Novak, for Hire

Pat Novak, for Hire is an old-time radio detective drama series which aired from 1946-1947 as a West Coast regional (produced at KGO in San Francisco) program and in 1949 as a nationwide program for ABC. The regional version originally starred Jack Webb in the title role, with scripts by his roommate Richard L. Breen. When Webb and Breen moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to work on an extremely similar nationwide series, Johnny Modero, Pier 23, for the Mutual network, Webb was replaced by Ben Morris and Breen by other writers. In the later network version, Jack Webb resumed the Novak role, and Breen his duties as scriptwriter. The series is popular among fans for its fast-paced, hard-boiled dialogue and action and witty one-liners.

Ladies and gentlemen, the American Broadcasting Company brings to its entire network one of radio's most unusual programs . . . Pat Novak, for Hire.

Pat Novak, for Hire is set on the San Francisco, California waterfront and depicts the city as a dark, rough place where the main goal is survival. Pat Novak is not a detective by trade. He owns a boat shop on Pier 19 where he rents out boats and does odd jobs to make money.

Each episode of the program, particularly the Jack Webb episodes, follows the same basic formula; a foghorn sounds and Novak's footsteps are heard walking down the pier. He then pauses and begins with the line "Sure, I'm Pat Novak . . . for hire". The foghorn repeats and leads to the intro theme, during which Pat gives a monologue about the waterfront and his job renting boats. Jack Webb narrates the story as well as acts in it, as the titular character. Playing the cynic, he throws off lines such as "...about as smart as teaching a cooking class to a group of cannibals". He then introduces the trouble in which he finds himself this week.

Typically, a person unknown to Pat asks him to do an unusual or risky job. Pat reluctantly accepts and finds himself in hot water in the form of an unexplained dead body. Sultry females are usually involved. Police Inspector Hellman (played by Raymond Burr) arrives on the scene and pins the murder on Novak. With only circumstantial evidence to go on, Hellman promises to haul Novak in the next day for the crime. The rapid, staccato dialogue between Webb & Burr is typical of hardboiled fiction and is often humorous. Pat uses the time to try to solve the case. He usually employs the help of his friend Jocko Madigan (played by Tudor Owen) - a drunken ex-doctor typically found at some disreputable tavern or bar - to help him solve the case. As Pat asks for his help, Jocko launches a long-winded philosophical diatribe, full of witty and funny remarks, until Novak cuts him off.

Jocko and Pat unravel the case and Hellman makes the arrest. Finally, we hear the foghorn and Novak's footsteps on the pier again before Novak spells out the details of the case for us. At the end, Novak informs us that "Hellman asked only one question", which Pat answers with a clever retort. The dialogue is rife with similes found in pulp fiction. Example: 'The neighborhood was run down - the kind of place where the For Rent signs look like ransom notes.'

John Galbraith played the inspector, and Phyllis Skelton was frequently heard in female roles on the program. George Fenneman was the announcer, and Basil Adlam led the orchestra.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

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.