Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dark Venture


Dark Venture was an American radio anthology thriller series. This program was created by the director Leonard Reeg and the producer J. Donald Wilson. John Lake narrated the show. It originated at ABC's new KECA facilities. The show ran for 52 episodes between February 1946 and February 1947.

The first episode began with an eerie introduction with Lake saying: “Over the minds of mortal men come many shadows… shadows of greed and hate, jealousy and fear. Darkness is absence of light… so in the sudden shadows which fog the minds of men and are to be found in the strange impulses which urge them on to their venture…in the dark.”

The introduction had subtle changes in different episodes to reflect the journeying into the unknown.

ABC took Dark Venture nationwide on February 19, 1946.

The stories gave the listener the murderer’s point of view. The episodes were an adventure of a distorted reality where people were scheming ways to kill someone and try to get away with it. The killers had no sense of right or wrong and nothing would get in their way. Victims were usually killed by strangling, knifing, or shooting. Killers devised cruel mind games such as tricking a wife into believing she was going insane, or manipulating a business associate into thinking he was being stalked by a lover who did not exist. Both of these elaborate plots were thought up to provide a scapegoat for the murderer. However, small details that they forgot to cover ultimately unraveled their evil plan at the end of each episode.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Life With Luigi




Life with Luigi was an American radio situation comedy series which began September 21, 1948 on CBS Radio and broadcast its final episode on March 3, 1953.

 The action centered on Luigi Basco and his experiences as a newly arrived Italian immigrant in Chicago. Many episodes took place at the citizenship classes that Luigi attended with other immigrants from different countries. Another common theme involved Luigi's landlord/sponsor, Pasquale, scheming to get Luigi to marry his obese daughter. Perennial character actor and two-time Academy Award nominee J. Carrol Naish played Luigi.

Life with Luigi was created by Cy Howard, who had earlier created the hit radio comedy, My Friend Irma. The working title was The Little Immigrant, echoed in the sign-off of each episode, "Your lovin-a son-a, Luigi Basco, the li'l immigrant." Other characters on the show included Pasquale (Alan Reed), another Italian immigrant who is always trying to trap Luigi into marrying his daughter Rosa (Jody Gilbert); native Chicagoan Jimmy (Gil Stratton), Luigi's young business associate; Miss Spaulding (Mary Shipp), Luigi's night school teacher and ideal woman; and Schultz (Hans Conried), a German immigrant and fellow student in Luigi's citizenship class. Each episode used the framing device of Luigi narrating a letter to his mother back in Italy.

The show was popular, successfully competing with Bob Hope's The Pepsodent Show. For most of its run, Life with Luigi aired at 9 pm on Tuesdays. Despite an estimated 30% share of the audience in its timeslot, the show was without a sponsor until Wrigley's Gum bought it in 1950, continuing till the show ended in 1953.

A live CBS Television version aired beginning on September 22, 1952, but was short-lived. Naish, Reed, Gilbert, and Shipp all portrayed their radio characters on the television show. Although it enjoyed high ratings, the show was pulled because of pressure from the Italian-American community. CBS tried to respond to advertisers' concerns by tinkering with the characters, the writing, and replacing Naish, Reed and Gilbert with Vito Scotti, Thomas Gomez, and Muriel Landers respectively, but the revised show was unsuccessful and was cancelled within weeks.




Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mr. and Mrs. North



Mr. and Mrs. North are fictional American amateur detectives. Created by Frances and Richard Lockridge, the couple was featured in a series of 26 Mr. and Mrs. North novels, a Broadway play, a motion picture and
several radio and television series.

Mr. and Mrs. North was a radio mystery series that aired on NBC and CBS from 1942 to 1954. Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin had the title roles when the series began in 1942. The characters, publisher Jerry North and his wife Pam, lived in Greenwich Village at 24 St. Anne's Flat. They were not professional detectives but simply an ordinary couple who stumbled across a murder or two every week for 12 years. The radio program eventually reached nearly 20 million listeners.

In 1946, Mr. and Mrs. North received the first Best Radio Drama Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America (in a tie with CBS's Ellery Queen). The program, which was broadcast once in 1941 and continuously from December 1942 through December 1946 on NBC Radio (for Woodbury Soap), and from July 1947 to April 1955 on CBS Radio (for Colgate-Palmolive and, later, Adler sewing machines), featured Carl Eastman (1941), Joseph Curtin (1942-53) and Richard Denning (1953-55) as Jerry North. Pam North was played by Peggy Conklin (1941), Alice Frost (1942-53) and Barbara Britton (1953-55).

In his book, Radio Crime Fighters, Jim Cox wrote that the couple:

... who passed themselves off as a publisher and his homemaker-spouse continued to make lighthearted wisecracks as they stepped over bodies in dark alleys and were rendered unconscious by unknown assailants dispensing blows to the head almost every week ... The feminine half of the twosome was at least equal to the husband in solving cases that often baffled law-enforcement officers with years of training and practice—except in reading clues. No explanation was given, of course, as to why a couple of misfits could be so successful in their preoccupation while the professionals thrashed about ineffectually."

In 1946, producer-director Fred Coe brought the Owen Davis play to television (on New York City's WNBT) with John McQuade and Maxine Stewart in the leads and Don Haggerty, Joan Marlowe and Millard Mitchell repeating their Broadway roles.


Barbara Britton and Richard Denning starred in the TV adaptation, produced by John W. Loveton, seen on CBS from 1952 to 1953 and on NBC in 1954, sponsored by Revlon cosmetics. Francis De Sales starred in 25 episodes as police Lieutenant Bill Weigand, only his second screen role. Guest stars included Raymond Burr, Hans Conried, Russ Conway, Mara Corday, I. Stanford Jolley, Carolyn Jones, Katy Jurado, Jimmy Lydon, Dayton Lummis, Julia Meade, William Schallert, and Gloria Talbott. Sixteen episodes of the TV series have been released in the "Best of TV Detectives" box set. A larger set of 8 DVDs containing 32 episodes has also been released by Alpha Video Distributors and is featured by the online store www.oldies.com.


Trivia:

Mr. and Mrs. North were resurrected in spirit with ABC's Hart to Hart, the 1979-84 crime drama about a wealthy husband (Robert Wagner) and wife (Stefanie Powers) who spent as much time solving murders and romancing each other as pursuing careers as an industrialist and a journalist, played the crime theme with wry wit reminiscent of the Norths in their heyday.

NBC's McMillan & Wife provided a different kind of couple, with the liberated Sally McMillan doing independent investigating as an amateur detective while her husband Mac served as the police commissioner. Sally had more gumption than the conventionally pretty Jennifer Hart and frequently solved cases on her own, making her more like Pamela North.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Magic Key of RCA


The Magic Key of RCA was an American variety radio show that featured an unusually large and broad range of entertainment stars and other noted personalities. It was on the NBC Blue Network from September 29, 1935, until September 18, 1939.

 It was hosted by announcers Milton Cross and Ben Grauer, with a house orchestra directed by Frank Black through 1938 and Nathaniel Shilkret in 1939.

Sies says that, “NBC used this quality program to demonstrate the cultural contribution radio could make,” and notes that performers included Ruth Etting, Fibber McGee and Molly, John B. Kennedy, Rudolf Ganz, Casper Beardon, Paul Robeson, Jane Froman, Doris Weston, Frank Forrest, Paul Taylor Chorus, Margaret Brill, Rudy Vallée, Irving Berlin, Darryl Zanuck, Jan Peerce, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Harris, Ann Jameson, Sonja Henie, Tyrone Power, Walter Abel, Whitney Bern and George Shelley. Dunning writes that there were appearances by Amos 'n' Andy, Lum and Abner, Paul Whiteman, Efrem Zimbalist, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Eleanor Roosevelt, Vienna Boys' Choir, Benny Goodman, Gladys Swarthout, Ray Noble, Guy Lombardo, Richard Himber, Eugene Ormandy, Lauritz Melchior, Fred MacMurray, Walt Disney and the Pickens Sisters. Dunning comments on the wide variety on the show by noting that programming included short dramas, a male quartet from Stockholm, jazz from Chicago, an account of Benito Mussolini's campaign in Africa and a conversation with a crew of a submerged submarine.

A typical show in 1939 would begin with an opening number by Shilkret, followed by a comedy skit by Stoopnagle and Budd.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mystery in the Air

Regular listeners to the Abbot and Costello Show must have been a bit shocked when they heard the summer replacement for their weekly comedy. Mystery In The Air first aired in 1945, and for two summers, it was a crime series about Detective Stonewall Scott. In 1947, it became a horror series of psychological/ supernatural tales starring Peter Lorre. Titles include "The Lodger," "The Horla," "Beyond Good And Evil," "The Black Cat," and "The Mask of Medusa."

The announcer was Harry Morgan of Dragnet and later, M*A*S*H fame. Lorre was the weekly narrator and raging psychopath. In the Medusa tale, Lorre plays a criminal frozen alive by a wax curator who uses the actual death mask of Medusa to create life-like exhibits. The clever curator is quite successful, until a young girl is influenced by the frozen mob to start a fire and release the murderers from their timeless prison. The climax is chilling, thanks in no small part to the death march music by Paul Baron. Lorre would get so carried away with his live radio performances, that he would end the half hour sweat-drenched and exhausted. Co-star Peggy Webber claimed that once, in the heat of a live performance, Lorre threw his script into the air and watched helplessly as the pages rained down in different directions all around the stage. Some ad-libbing by the cast managed to carry the show through to the break, when the script was hastily reassembled (Dunning, 477). Only eight different shows from this interesting series are known to have survived.

Announcer (Harry Morgan): "Mystery in the Air starring Peter Lorre presented by Camel Cigarettes."

(SFX: Music swells, then drops.)

(SFX: A tour guide enters with a small crowd and drones on about the Chamber of Horrors wax exhibit. The tour guide's voice fades into the background as the narrator begins to speak.)

Lorre: "Yes, yes, there he goes, there he goes again, telling people all the bad things we did. Oh it's terrible, being nothing but figures in a wax museum. People staring at us all day long and not one of them, not one, ever suspects that we are still alive!"

(Music theme.)

Announcer (Harry Morgan): "Each week at this time, Camel Cigarettes brings you Peter Lorre and the excitement of the great stories of the strange and unusual. Of dark and compelling masterpieces culled from the four corners of world literature. Tonight, 'The Mask of Medusa' by Nelson Bond."

(SFX: Music sting.)

Lorre: "Well, well, well. Here we are, back again, yes, all of us. The finest criminal minds in the world. Oh, it's the elite, the cream of crime. Now we are just wax figures in a sideshow. Yes, but now, now there are 48 of us. Heh-heh. Oh, I suppose we should feel honored to have with us the great Aristead Schwige. This way he looks quite natural, yes, standing over there between Synder and Poe. And at least he doesn't bore me any more with his silly stupid lectures. No. Now he doesn't talk at all. Someone called 'Albert' is running the exhibit now. Oh, poor Albert. He's an imbecile. Albert doesn't know there was a mask of Medusa. Oh, we are much more intelligent than poor Albert. He doesn't even know that we are still alive!"

(Music theme.)

Announcer (Harry Morgan): "Next week, Mystery In The Air starring Mr. Peter Lorre, brings you an exciting story of gambling and sudden death, the immortal 'Queen Of Spades' by Alexander Pushkin. With a special musical score composed and conducted by Paul Baron."

Info via http://www.radiohorrorhosts.com/mysteryair.html

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rocky Fortune




Rocky Fortune is an American radio drama that aired weekly on NBC Radio beginning in October 1953. The series ended its run in March 1954 after 25 episodes. The program was created by George Lefferts. Frank Sinatra voiced the title role of Rocky Fortune for the entire series.

 Rocky Fortune aired Tuesday nights on NBC at 9:35pm Eastern, immediately following Dragnet (and a five-minute John Cameron Swayze newscast). It was a sustaining series, meaning that NBC presented the program without corporate sponsorship. The premiere episode, "Oyster Shucker", originally aired on October 6, 1953.

 Frank Sinatra portrayed Rocco Fortunato, also known as Rocky Fortune, a young man of several talents constantly in need of employment and who accepts odd jobs from the fictitious Gridley Employment Agency., often referred to simply as "the Agency." During the course of the series, he would work as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny, in addition to various musical jobs. These assignments typically led Rocky into situations where he would track down criminals, often rescuing people (especially women) in need of help, and ultimately needing to find yet more work. Rocky made many wise remarks, using "hep" slang of the times, and seemed to attract trouble wherever he went.


Sinatra infused the role of Rocky with a witty, tongue-in-cheek quality that acknowledged Sinatra's own career. For example, in the episode "Football Fix", Rocky begins to sing "I've Got the World on a String" while walking down the street, a song Sinatra had performed prior to playing the role of Rocky.

 Aside from Sinatra, the only other recurring role on the series was that of Hamilton J. Finger, a not terribly smart but solid and dependable police sergeant voiced by Barney Phillips. Other guest roles on Rocky Fortune were voiced by actors such as Raymond Burr, Ed Begley and Jack Kruschen.

 The final episode, "Boarding House Doublecross", aired on March 30, 1954, less than a week after Sinatra won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Private Angelo Maggio in the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity. As a running gag towards the end of the show's run, Sinatra would work the phrase "from here to eternity" into the script as a reference to his film role in almost every episode.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Philo Vance



Philo Vance is a fictional character featured in 12 crime novels written by S. S. Van Dine (the pen name of Willard Huntington Wright), published in the 1920s and 1930s. During that time, Vance was immensely popular in books, movies, and on the radio. He was portrayed as a stylish, even foppish dandy, a New York bon vivant possessing a highly intellectual bent. The novels were chronicled by his friend Van Dine (who appears as a kind of Dr. Watson figure in the books as well as being the author).

 In the early novels, Van Dine claimed that "Philo Vance" was an alias, and that details of the sleuth's adventures had been altered to protect his true identity. This claim was conveniently forgotten as the series progressed. (A few years later, the same process occurred with another fictional detective, Ellery Queen, whose authors acknowledged the inspiration of Van Dine.)

As Van Dine described the character of Vance in the first of the novels, The Benson Murder Case:

Vance was what many would call a dilettante, but the designation does him an injustice. He was a man of unusual culture and brilliance. An aristocrat by birth and instinct, he held himself severely aloof from the common world of men. In his manner there was an indefinable contempt for inferiority of all kinds. The great majority of those with whom he came in contact regarded him as a snob. Yet there was in his condescension and disdain no trace of spuriousness. His snobbishness was intellectual as well as social. He detested stupidity even more, I believe, than he did vulgarity or bad taste. I have heard him on several occasions quote Fouché’s famous line: C’est plus qu’un crime; c'est une faute. And he meant it literally.

Vance was frankly a cynic, but he was rarely bitter; his was a flippant, Juvenalian cynicism. Perhaps he may best be described as a bored and supercilious, but highly conscious and penetrating, spectator of life. He was keenly interested in all human reactions; but it was the interest of the scientist, not the humanitarian.

Vance’s knowledge of psychology was indeed uncanny. He was gifted with an instinctively accurate judgement of people, and his study and reading had coordinated and rationalized this gift to an amazing extent. He was well grounded in the academic
principles of psychology, and all his courses at college had either centered about this subject or been subordinated to it…

He had reconnoitered the whole field of cultural endeavor. He had courses in the history of religions, the Greek classics, biology, civics, and political economy, philosophy, anthropology, literature, theoretical, and experimental psychology, and ancient and modern languages. But it was, I think, his courses under Münsterberg and William James that interested him the most.


Vance’s mind was basically philosophical—that is, philosophical in the more general sense. Being singularly free from the conventional sentimentalities and current superstitions, he could look beneath the surface of human acts into actuating impulses and motives. Moreover, he was resolute both in his avoidance of any attitude that savoured of credulousness and in his adherence to cold, logical exactness in his mental processes. In the same book, Van Dine detailed Vance's physical features:

He was unusually good-looking, although his mouth was ascetic and cruel...there was a slightly derisive hauteur in the lift of his eyebrows...His forehead was full and sloping--it was the artist's, rather than the scholar's, brow. His cold grey eyes were widely spaced. His nose was straight and slender, and his chin narrow but prominent, with an unusually deep cleft...Vance was slightly under six feet, graceful, and giving the impression of sinewy strength and nervous endurance.

Films about Vance were made from the late 1920s to the late 1940s, with some more faithful to the literary character than others. Fictional narrator S.S. Van Dine, who acts as a passive eyewitness to events in the novels, does not appear in the films.

Among the several actors who played Philo Vance on the screen were William Powell, Warren William, and Basil Rathbone, all of whom had great success playing other detectives in movies. The movie The Canary Murder Case is famous for a contract dispute that eventually helped sink the career of star Louise Brooks.



Three radio drama series were created with Philo Vance as the title character. The first series, broadcast by NBC in 1945, starred José Ferrer. A summer replacement series in 1946 starred John Emery as Vance. The best-known series (and the one of which most episodes survived) ran from 1948 to 1950 in Frederick Ziv syndication and starred Jackson Beck (pictured above). an American actor best known as the announcer on radio's The Adventures of Superman and the voice of Bluto in the Famous era Popeye theatrical shorts. "Thankfully, the radio series uses only the name, and makes Philo a pretty normal, though very intelligent and extremely courteous gumshoe. ... Joan Alexander is Ellen Deering, Vance's secretary and right-hand woman.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sad Sack




Sad Sack is an American fictional comic strip and comic book character created by Sgt. George Baker during World War II. Set in the United States Army, Sad Sack depicted an otherwise unnamed, lowly private experiencing some of the absurdities and humiliations of military life. The title was a euphemistic shortening of the military slang "sad sack of shit", common during World War II. The phrase has come to mean "an inept person" or "inept soldier".

 Originally drawn in pantomime by Baker, The Sad Sack debuted June 1942 as a comic strip in the first issue of Yank, the Army Weekly. It proved popular, and a hardcover collection of Baker's wartime Sad Sack strips was published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. in 1944, with a follow-up, The New Sad Sack (1946). The original book was concurrently published as an Armed Services edition mass market paperback, in that edition's standard squarebound, horizontal, 5 5/8" × 4" format, by Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., a non-profit organization of The Council on Books in Wartime; it was #719 in the series of Armed Service editions.

After the war ended, The Sad Sack ran in newspaper syndication in the United States until 1957. Baker then sold the rights to Harvey Comics, which produced a large number of commercial spin-offs.

Private Sad Sack (played by Mel Blanc) made an appearance with Bob Hope and Betty Grable on the April 29, 1944 episode of G.I. Journal. The voice Blanc used was a stuttering delivery similar to Porky Pig. The character as voiced by Blanc appeared in multiple other broadcasts of "G.I. Journal".

Sponsored by Old Gold Cigarettes, The Sad Sack radio program ran in 1946 as a summer replacement series for The Frank Sinatra Show. It starred Herb Vigran in the title role with Jim Backus, Sandra Gould, Ken Christy and Patsy Moran. Dick Joy was the announcer for the series which began June 12, 1946 with the episode "Sack Returns Home from the Army" and continued until September 4 of that year.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Screen Guild Theater




The Screen Guild Theater is a popular radio anthology series during the Golden Age of Radio, broadcast from 1939 until 1952, with leading Hollywood actors performing in adaptations of popular motion pictures such as Going My Way and The Postman Always Rings Twice.


 The show had a long run, lasting for 14 seasons and 527 episodes. It initially was heard on CBS from January 8, 1939 until June 28, 1948, continuing on NBC from October 7, 1948 until June 29, 1950. It was broadcast on ABC from September 7, 1950 to May 31, 1951 and returned to CBS on March 13, 1952. It aired under several different titles: The Gulf Screen Guild Show, The Gulf Screen Guild Theater, The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater and The Camel Screen Guild Theater.

 Actors on the series included Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Cantor, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante, Nelson Eddy, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Johnny Mercer, Agnes Moorehead, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore. Fees these actors would typically charge were donated to the Motion Picture Relief Fund, in order to support the creation and maintenance of the Motion Picture Country Home for retired actors.

 The series came to an end on CBS June 29, 1952.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Escape



Escape was radio's leading anthology series of high-adventure radio dramas, airing on CBS from July 7, 1947 to September 25, 1954. Since the program did not have a regular sponsor like Suspense, it was subjected to frequent schedule shifts and lower production budgets, although Richfield Oil signed on as a sponsor for five months in 1950.

Despite these problems, Escape enthralled many listeners during its seven-year run. The series' well-remembered opening combined Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain with this introduction, as intoned by Paul Frees and William Conrad:

"Tired of the everyday grind? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all? We offer you... Escape!" Following the opening theme, a second announcer (usually Roy Rowan) would add:

"Escape! Designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half-hour of high adventure!"

Of the more than 230 Escape episodes, most have survived in good condition. Many story premises, both originals and adaptations, involved a protagonist in dire life-or-death straits, and the series featured more science fiction and supernatural tales than Suspense. Some of the memorable adaptations include Daphne du Maurier's "The Birds", Carl Stephenson's "Leiningen Versus the Ants", Algernon Blackwood's "Confession", Ray Bradbury's oft-reprinted "Mars Is Heaven", George R. Stewart's Earth Abides (the program's only two-parter), Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz".

John Collier's "Evening Primrose", about people who live inside a department store, was later adapted to TV as a Stephen Sondheim musical starring Anthony Perkins. Vincent Price, Harry Bartell and Jeff Corey were heard in the chilling "Three Skeleton Key" (broadcast on 17 March 1950), the tale of three men trapped in an isolated lighthouse by thousands of rats; the half-hour was adapted from an Esquire short story by the French writer George Toudouze and later remade for the August 9, 1953 broadcast starring William Conrad, Ben Wright and Jay Novello.

Actors on the series included Elvia Allman, Eleanor Audley, Parley Baer, Michael Ann Barrett, Tony Barrett, Harry Bartell, Ted Bliss, Lillian Buyeff, Ken Christy, William Conrad, Ted deCorsia, John Dehner, Don Diamond, Paul Dubov, Sam Edwards, Virginia Gregg, Lou Merrill, Howard McNear, Jess Kirkpatrick, B.J. Thompson, Shep Menken, Frank Gerstle, George Neece, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Barney Phillips, Forrest Lewis, Robert Griffin, Alan Reed, Bill Johnstone, Sandra Gould, Junius Matthews, Carleton G. Young, Frank Gerstle, Marvin Miller, Frank Lovejoy, Berry Kroeger, Vic Perrin, Elliott Lewis, Eleanore Tanin, Herb Vigran, Jack Webb, Peggy Webber and Will Wright.

Music was supplied by Del Castillo, organist Ivan Ditmars, Cy Feuer, Wilbur Hatch and Leith Stevens. The announcers were Paul Frees and Roy Rowan.

A television counterpart (Escape (CBS TV series)) aired on CBS TV for a few months during 1950.

The program's opening announcement—"Tired of the everyday grind?"—was employed as a slogan for the counterculture magazine, New Escapologist.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar!





"The man with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator, Johnny Dollar".

For over twelve years, from 1949 through 1962 (including a one year hiatus in 1954-1955), this series recounted the cases of Johnny Dollar. The name of the show derives from the fact that he closed each show by totaling his expense account, and signing it "End of report... Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar".

As originally conceived, Johnny Dollar was a smart, tough, wisecracking detective who tossed silver-dollar tips to waiters and bellhops. Dick Powell starred in the audition show, recorded in 1948, but withdrew from the role in favor of other projects. The role went instead to Charles Russell. The show, for which Powell auditioned, was originally titled "Yours Truly, Lloyd London," although the name of the show and its lead character were apparently changed before the audition tape of December 6, 1948, was actually recorded.

The final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense, airing on CBS, are often cited as the end of the golden age of radio. The last episode of Johnny Dollar, "The Tip-Off Matter", ended at 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 1962, followed immediately by the final broadcast of Suspense.

With the first three actors to play Johnny Dollar — radio actor Russell and movie tough-guy actors Edmond O'Brien and John Lund — there was little to distinguish Johnny Dollar from other detective series at the time (Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade). While always a friend of the police, Johnny wasn't necessarily a stickler for the strictest interpretation of the law. He was willing to let some things slide to satisfy his own sense of justice, as long as the interests of his employer were also protected. The series ended in September 1954.

CBS Radio revived Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar in October 1955 with a new leading man, a new director, and a new format. The program changed from a 30-minute, one-episode-per-week affair to a 15-minute, five-nights-a-week serial (Monday through Friday, 8-8:15pm EST) produced and directed by radio veteran Jack Johnstone. The new Johnny Dollar was Bob Bailey, (pictured) who had just come off another network detective series, Let George Do It. With a new lead and 75 minutes of air time each week, it became possible to develop each storyline with more detail and with more characters. Almost all of the Johnny Dollar serials were presented by CBS Radio on a sustaining basis (unsponsored, with no commercials); only two of the 55 serials take time out for a sponsor's message.
Bob Bailey was exceptionally good in this format, making Johnny more sensitive and thoughtful in addition to his other attributes. Vintage-radio enthusiasts often endorse Bailey as the best of the Johnny Dollars, and consider the 13-month run of five-part stories to be some of the greatest drama in radio history. The serial scripts were usually written by Jack Johnstone, "John Dawson" (a pseudonym for E. Jack Neuman), Les Crutchfield, or Robert Ryf, Blake Edwards also contributed several scripts and the show was always produced and directed by Johnstone. The show featured an excellent stock company of supporting actors, including Virginia Gregg, Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, Lawrence Dobkin, Parley Baer, Howard McNear, John Dehner, Barney Phillips, Lillian Buyeff, Tony Barrett, Don Diamond, Alan Reed, and Forrest Lewis. Movie character actors appeared occasionally, including Jay Novello, Hans Conried, Frank Nelson, Leon Belasco, William Conrad, Edgar Barrier, and Billy Halop.
In late 1956 CBS Radio retooled the show, which reverted to a weekly half-hour drama, airing on late Sunday afternoons. Bob Bailey continued in the leading role until 1960 (and wrote one episode, "The Carmen Kringle Matter").

The final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense, airing on CBS, are often cited as the end of the golden age of radio. The last episode of Johnny Dollar, "The Tip-Off Matter", ended at 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 1962, followed immediately by the final broadcast of Suspense.

Sources-
Wikipedia
Archive.org


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dragnet


Dragnet, the brainchild of Jack Webb, may very well be the most well-remembered, and the best, radio police drama series. From September, 1949 through February 1957, Dragnet's 30 minute shows, broadcast on NBC, brought to radio true police stories in a low-key, documentary style.

The origins of Dragnet can be traced to a semi-documentary film,  "He Walked by Night" from 1948, in which Webb had a small role. Both employed the same Los Angeles Police Department technical adviser, used actual police cases and presented the case in "just the facts" manner that became a hallmark of Dragnet. It is interesting to note that Webb employed that format in other radio series, some pre-dating the film mentioned above.

Dragnet was a long running radio and television police procedural drama, about the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners. The show takes its name from an actual police term, a Dragnet, meaning a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.Dragnet was perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in American media history. The series gave millions of Americans a feel for the boredom and drudgery, as well as the danger and heroism, of real life police work. Dragnet earned praise for improving the public opinion of police officers.

Actor and producer Jack Webb's aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting. He achieved both goals and Dragnet remains a key influence on subsequent police dramas in many media. The shows cultural impact is demonstrated by the fact that even after five decades, elements of Dragnet are known to those who have never heard nor seen the program. The ominous four note introduction to the brass and tympani theme music, titled Danger Ahead, is instantly recognizable as well as the shows opening narration:

"Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."

The original Dragnet starring Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday ran on radio from June 3rd, 1949 to February 26th, 1957; and on television from December 16th, 1951 to August 23rd, 1959, and from January 12th, 1967 to April 16th, 1970. All of these versions ran on NBC. There were two Dragnet feature films, a straight adaptation starring Jack Webb in 1954, and a comedy spoof in 1987. There were also television revivals, without Webb, in 1989 and 2003.













Sources: Wikipedia and Archive.org

Other Dragnet links:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Quiz Kids




Quiz Kids was a popular radio and TV series of the 1940s and 1950s. Created by Chicago public relations and advertising man Louis G. Cowan, and originally sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, the series was first broadcast on NBC from Chicago, June 28, 1940, airing as a summer replacement show for Alec Templeton Time. It continued on radio for the next 13 years. On television, the show was seen on NBC and CBS from July 6, 1949 to July 5, 1953, with Joe Kelly as quizmaster, and again from January 12 to September 27, 1956, with Clifton Fadiman as host.

 The premise of the original show involved Kelly asking questions sent in by listeners and researched by Eliza Hickok and Rachel Stevenson. Kelly often said that he was not an intellectual, and that he could not have answered any of the questions without knowing the answer from his flash card. Yet he was remarkably kind and affable, and put even novice young contestants at ease immediately. The answers were supplied by a panel of five children, chosen for their high IQs, strong academic interests, and appealing personalities, as well as such qualities as poise, quickness, and sense of humor. One of the first Quiz Kids was seven-year-old nature expert Gerard Darrow. For the initial premiere panel he was joined by Mary Ann Anderson, Joan Bishop, Van Dyke Tiers and Charles Schwartz.

Other Quiz Kids of the 1940s were Joan Alizier, Lois Jean Ashbeck, Claude Brenner, Geraldine Hamburg, Mary Clare McHugh, war refugee Gunther Hollander and math experts Joel Kupperman and Richard Williams. Panelists rotated, with the three top scorers each week joined by two others the following week; they were no longer eligible to participate once they reached the age of 16.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Suspense



Suspense, one of the premier drama programs of the Golden Age of Radio, was subtitled "radio's outstanding theater of thrills" and focused on suspense thriller-type scripts, usually featuring leading Hollywood actors of the era. Approximately 945 episodes were broadcast during its long run, and more than 900 are extant.

Suspense went through several major phases, characterized by different hosts, sponsors, and director/producers. Formula plot devices were followed for all but a handful of episodes: the protagonist was usually a normal person suddenly dropped into a threatening or bizarre situation; solutions were "withheld until the last possible second"; and evildoers were usually punished in the end.

In the earliest years, the program was hosted by "The Man in Black" (played by Joseph Kearns or Ted Osborne) with many episodes written or adapted by the prominent mystery author John Dickson Carr.

"This is The Man in Black, here again to introduce Columbia's program, Suspense. Our stars tonight are..."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Harold Peary Show




The Harold Peary Show was a radio situation comedy broadcast in the United States September 17, 1950-June 13, 1951 on CBS. Some sources refer to the program as Honest Harold or The Hal Peary Show.

The period 1948-1950 brought major changes to network radio, as CBS hired a number of stars from NBC in what some have called "talent raids." Some of the top performers who changed networks were Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Edgar Bergen, and the husband-and-wife duo George Burns and Gracie Allen. One result of the changes was that 12 of the 15 highest rated radio programs at the end of 1949 were on CBS.

Harold Peary did not find such success, however. Peary switched to CBS, while the program in which he had starred, The Great Gildersleeve, stayed on NBC. Those changes resulted in a new program (The Harold Peary Show) for Peary and a new star (Willard Waterman) for Gildersleeve. Radio historian John Dunning commented that The Harold Peary Show "failed to gain any measure of an audience in its lone season."

The Harold Peary Show featured a radio show within a radio show. The main character, Harold Hemp -- called "Honest Harold," was host of a program called "The Happy Homemaker." As one would expect from a situation comedy, humor arose from Hemp's interaction with other characters in the episodes. They included his mother, his nephew, a marshal, a doctor, the radio station's switchboard operator, and girlfriends.

Although not an exact duplicate, The Harold Peary Show bore much similarity -- perhaps too much similarity -- to The Great Gildersleeve. Dunning wrote, "Peary tried with Honest Harold to do Gildy all over again." One old-time radio website commented: "The new show also borrowed a few Gildersleeve plot devices, such as running for mayor and engagements to two women. In what was possibly a desperate attempt to recreate the Gildersleeve magic, it even brought in actress Shirley Mitchell, virtually recreating her Gildersleeve role of Leila Ransom, under the name of Florabelle Breckenridge."

The program was knocked in at least two published articles. Dunning wrote about a review in Radio Life magazine that he summarized, in part, as follows: "Waterman was a 'splendid' replacement in a tough situation ... he won over the studio audience ... cast members rooted for him wholeheartedly ... Waterman's own intrinsic thespian integrity contributed to an initial performance that was greeted with enthusiasm. The same review panned Honest Harold as derivative, unexciting, and, in the end, 'just another show.'" Meanwhile, media critic John Crosby commented in a column published March 1, 1951:

Last summer, the intellectual hierarchy at the Columbia Broadcasting System announced triumphantly that they had absconded with one more NBC star, namely Harold Peary who had been "The Great Gildersleve" on NBC since the year two. Mr. Peary, said CBS, had been signed to a seven year contract and would create a new show and a new character for that network. It must have seemed like a bright idea at the time. Events have proved it to be an unqualified disaster both for the network and Mr. Peary.

A newspaper obituary for Peary commented about The Harold Peary Show, "That series, however, never achieved the popularity of Gildersleeve and gradually faded away."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Casey, Crime Photographer


Casey, Crime Photographer, known by a variety of titles on radio (aka Crime Photographer, Flashgun Casey, Casey, Press Photographer) was a media franchise from the 1930s to the 1960s. The character was the creation of novelist George Harmon Coxe. Casey was featured in the pulp magazine, Black Mask, novels, comic books, radio, film, television and legitimate theatre.

 Jack "Flashgun" Casey, was a crime photographer for the newspaper The Morning Express. With the help of reporter Ann Williams (best remembered portrayed by Jan Miner, Palmolive's "Madge"), he solved crimes and recounted his stories to friends at the Blue Note, their favorite tavern and jazz club where the Archie Bleyer Orchestra and the Teddy Wilson Trio were featured.

 Begun as over 20 popular short stories in Black Mask, there were films and novels before the stories were brought to radio under various names. The series aired on CBS. The radio show was sustained by the network when a sponsor could not be found. Sponsors of the show include Anchor Hocking, Toni home permanents, Toni Shampoo and Philip Morris.

 Cast:
Matt Crowley, Casey
Jim Backus, Casey (briefly)
Staats Cotsworth, Casey

Jan Miner, Ann Williams
John Gibson, Ethelbert the bartender

Air dates
07/07/43 - 04/01/44 (as Flashgun Casey)
04/08/44 - 06/26/45 (as Casey, Press Photographer)
07/11/45 - 03/13/47 (as Crime Photographer)
03/20/47 - 11/16/50 (as Casey, Crime Photographer)
01/13/54 - 04/22/55 (as Crime Photographer)

In the period between the fourth and fifth series, the live television version was telecast.

 In 1951 the popular series moved to television:
First Telecast: April 19, 1951 Last Telecast: June 5, 1952
Casey (June 1951-April 1952): Darren McGavin
Ann Williams: Jan Miner (reprising her radio role)

Darrin McGavin commented, "The cast of Crime Photographer didn’t go down fighting. They took off for the hills. It was so bad that it was never re-run, and that’s saying something when you recall the caliber of television programs in those days."

Another great Casey, Crime Photographer link.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fort Laramie


Fort Laramie is a CBS Radio Western series starring Raymond Burr that aired Sunday afternoons January 22–October 28, 1956, at 5:30pm ET.

 The Fort had 400 troops in all but as well as nearby towns and settlements, they had to keep their eye on a nearby Indian reservation with 4,000 Sioux camped there. Major Ned Daggart led the troops and he didn't always see eye to eye with Quince. Daggart had a niece called Terrie Lawson, who had her eye on the Captain.

Produced and directed by Norman Macdonnell, this Western drama depicted life at old Fort Laramie during the 19th Century. The 41 episodes starred Raymond Burr as Lee Quince, captain of the cavalry. One year later, Burr became a television star as Perry Mason.

Supporting regulars included Vic Perrin as Sgt. Gorse, Harry Bartell as the slightly green Lt. Seiberts and Jack Moyles as Major Daggett. Heard on a more irregular basis were Howard McNear as Pliny the fort sutler, Sam Edwards as Trooper Harrison, and in a variety of roles, such actors as John Dehner, John McIntire, Virginia Gregg, James Nusser, Parley Baer and Barney Phillips. Amerigo Marino supplied the music. The scripts were mostly written by John Meston, Kathleen Hite, Les Crutchfield and John Dunkel.

John Dehner originally auditioned for the part of Lee Quince in a story that was later remade with Burr in the lead, called "The Boatwright's Story".

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator



Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator was a detective drama heard on NBC Radio from October 3, 1951 to June 30, 1955.

 Detective Barrie Craig (William Gargan) worked alone from his Madison Avenue office. Unlike his contemporaries Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, Craig had a laid-back personality, somewhat cutting against the popular hard-boiled detective stereotype.

Others in the cast included Parley Baer and Betty Lou Gerson. Gargan also starred in the role in an unsuccessful 1955 TV pilot written and directed by Blake Edwards.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Aldrich Family


The Aldrich Family, a popular radio teenage situation comedy (1939-1953), was also presented in films, television and comic books. In the radio series' well-remembered weekly opening exchange, awkward teen Henry's mother called, "Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!", and he responded with a breaking adolescent voice, "Com-ing, Mother!"

The creation of playwright Clifford Goldsmith, Henry Aldrich began on Broadway as a minor character in Goldsmith's play What a Life. Produced and directed by George Abbott, What a Life ran for 538 performances (April 13, 1938 to July 8, 1939). The Broadway cast included Eddie Bracken, Betty Field and Butterfly McQueen. The actor who brought Henry to life on stage was 20-year-old Ezra Stone, who was billed near the bottom as the 20th actor in the cast. Stone was also employed as the play's production assistant.


The Aldrich Family was launched in its own series as a summer replacement program for Jack Benny in NBC's Sunday night lineup, July 2, 1939, and it stayed there until October 1, 1939, when it moved to Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., sponsored by General Foods's popular gelatin dessert Jell-O, which also sponsored Jack Benny at the time. The Aldriches ran in that slot from October 10, 1939 until May 28, 1940, moving to Thursdays, from July 4, 1940 until July 20, 1944. After a brief hiatus, the show moved to CBS, running on Fridays from September 1, 1944 until August 30, 1946 with sponsors Grape Nuts and Jell-O before moving back to NBC from September 5, 1946 to June 28, 1951 on Thursdays and, then, as a Sustaining program in its final run of September 21, 1952 to April 19, 1953 on Sundays.

 The show was a top-ten ratings hit within two years of its birth (in 1941, the show carried a 33.4 Crossley rating, landing it solidly alongside Jack Benny and Bob Hope). Earning $3000 a week, Goldsmith was the highest paid writer in radio, and his show became a prototype for the teen-oriented situation comedies that followed on radio and television.

 Stone kept the lead role until 1942, when he entered the Army for World War II. Norman Tokar succeeded Stone as Henry for two seasons. Best known for his later work directing the television hit Leave It to Beaver — whose approach of telling its stories from the vantage point of a child may have been inspired by the similar implication in many Aldrich episodes — Tokar also helped write many of the Aldrich episodes. On The Aldrich Family, Tokar was followed by Dickie Jones (1943-44) and Raymond Ives (1944-45), before Stone returned to his signature role. Bobby Ellis became the last Henry Aldrich in 1952.

On October 2, 1949, the program premiered on NBC while continuing to air on the radio with a primarily different cast. Over the course of its nearly four-year run on television, Henry was portrayed by five different actors: Robert Casey, Richard Tyler, Henry Girard, Kenneth Nelson and Bobby Ellis, the only one to participate in the radio production as well. Other characters — including Mrs. Aldrich, Henry's sister Mary, and his best friend Homer Brown — were portrayed by multiple actors as well, a practice not uncommon in radio but unusual for television, where cast changes are more noticeable.

The program garnered some adverse publicity when film and radio veteran Jean Muir was signed to play Mrs. Aldrich in the second season, which was to begin on August 27, 1950. Shortly before Muir's scheduled premiere, Right-wing groups accused the actress of being a Communist sympathizer (her name appeared in Red Channels, a pamphlet listing the names of performers allegedly involved in left-wing activities), and General Foods, the show's sponsor, cancelled the first episode of the new season, replacing her with Nancy Carroll a week later, when the series returned on September 3rd. Muir went on to defend herself before a Congressional committee, but her career never recovered from the charges. After General Foods ended their sponsorship in the spring of 1951, Campbell Soup Company became the new sponsor when the series moved from Sundays to Friday nights that fall. The final episode was broadcast on May 29, 1953, slightly more than a month after the radio series came to an end.

 

Monday, January 11, 2016

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.

Friday, January 8, 2016

This Is Your FBI



This Is Your FBI was a radio crime drama which aired in the United States on ABC from April 6, 1945 to January 30, 1953 for a total of 409 shows. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover gave it his endorsement, calling it "the finest dramatic program on the air".

Producer-director Jerry Devine was given access to FBI files by Hoover, and the resulting dramatizations of FBI cases were narrated by Frank Lovejoy (1945), Dean Carleton (1946–1947) and William Woodson (1948–1953). Stacy Harris played the lead role of fictional Special Agent Jim Taylor. Others in the cast were William Conrad, Bea Benaderet and Jay C. Flippen.

This Is Your FBI was sponsored during its entire run by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Have Gun Will Travel




Have Gun – Will Travel is an American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. It was rated number three or number four in the Nielsen ratings every year of its first four seasons. It was one of the few television shows to spawn a successful radio version. The radio series debuted November 23, 1958.

This series follows the adventures of a man calling himself "Paladin," a gentleman gunfighter (played by Richard Boone on television and voiced by John Dehner on radio). He prefers to settle without violence the difficulties brought his way by clients who pay him. When forced, he excels in fisticuffs and, under his real name, was a duelling champion of some renown.

Have Gun – Will Travel was created by Sam Rolfe and Herb Meadow.
The title was a catchphrase used in personal advertisements in newspapers like The Times, indicating that the advertiser was ready for anything. It was used this way from the early 20th century. A form common in theatrical advertising was "Have tux, will travel," and CBS claimed this was the inspiration for the writer Herb Meadow. The television show popularized the phrase in the 1960s, and many variations were used as titles for other works such as Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert Heinlein.


Paladin is a mercenary, a soldier of fortune, accepting commissions from people who seek to engage his services. He is not above scanning newspaper headlines to offer his services to people whose troubles find their way into print. In the parlance of chivalry, since Paladin is not attached to the service of any one liege lord, his is "a free lance." He makes it clear that his time is all his clients hire for their particular jobs.

 A "paladin" is a knight, a paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion of a cause: "like Charlemagne's fabled Roland," as the Honourable Diana Coulter (Patricia Medina) notes in "The Lady". Using this nom-de-guerre Paladin makes clear that he is motivated by a code of chivalry to act justly in a just cause. He exhibits a passion for justice as well as for the rule of law, which means that he is constantly forced to differentiate between the two concepts.

The Have Gun – Will Travel radio show broadcast 106 episodes on the CBS Radio Network between November 23, 1958, and November 27, 1960. It was one of the last radio dramas featuring continuing characters and the only significant American radio adaptation of a television series. John Dehner played Paladin, and Ben Wright usually (but not always) played Hey Boy. Virginia Gregg played Miss Wong, Hey Boy's girlfriend, before the television series featured the character of Hey Girl. Unlike the small-screen version, in this medium there was usually a tag scene at the Carlton at both the beginning and the end of the episode. Initially, the episodes were adaptations of the television program as broadcast earlier the same week, but eventually original stories were produced, including a finale ("Goodbye, Paladin") in which Paladin leaves San Francisco, apparently forever, to claim an inheritance back east. The radio version was written by producer/writer Roy Winsor.

 Many of the writers who worked on Have Gun – Will Travel went on to gain fame elsewhere. Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, Bruce Geller created Mission: Impossible, and Harry Julian Fink is one of the writers who created Dirty Harry (the opening title and theme scene of the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force would feature the same Paladin-like sequence of a handgun being slowly cocked and then finally pointed toward the camera, with a line of dialogue). Sam Peckinpah wrote one episode, which aired in 1958. Both Star Trek and Mission: Impossible were produced by Desilu Productions and later Paramount Television, which also now owns the rights to Have Gun – Will Travel through its successor company, CBS Television Distribution.



This photo shows radio's Paladin, John Dehner, with TV's Paladin, Richard Boone.