Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blackstone, the Magic Detective


Blackstone, the Magic Detective was a 15-minute radio series based on Elmer Cecil Stoner's short-lived comics series Blackstone, Master Magician. The program aired Sunday afternoons at 2:45pm on the Mutual Broadcasting System from October 3, 1948, until March 26, 1950.

 Starring Edwin Jerome as "the world's greatest living magician," the radio series was based on real-life magician Harry Blackstone, Sr.

The series was announced by Don Hancock from October 1948 through June 1949, and Alan Kent from July 1949 through to the end of the series in March, 1950. The background organ music was supplied by Bill Meeder. Scripts were mostly by Walter B. Gibson, the ghostwriter of Blackstone's books, and Nancy Webb, who worked with Gibson on Chick Carter, Boy Detective.

The show usually opened with Blackstone (Ed Jerome) and his assistant Rhoda Brent (Fran Carlon) talking with a friend of theirs, either Don Hancock or Alan Kent (played by the episodes' announcers in-character as themselves) or John (Ted Osborne). A past adventure of Blackstone's would come up in conversation, and that mystery story was then dramatized as a flashback.

After the mystery's climax, the narrative returned to the three main characters as Blackstone performed a magic trick. After a commercial break handled by the announcer, Blackstone returned to demonstrate and explain the trick so that listeners could perform it for the amusement of their friends.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Adventures of Harry Lime



The Adventures of Harry Lime (broadcast in the United States as The Lives of Harry Lime) is an old-time radio program produced in the United Kingdom during the 1951 to 1952 season. Orson Welles reprises his role of Harry Lime from the celebrated 1949 film The Third Man. The radio series is a prequel to the film, and depicts the many misadventures of con-artist Lime in a somewhat lighter tone than that of the film.


The Adventures of Harry Lime is one of the most successful series created by prolific British radio producer Harry Alan Towers and his company Towers of London. Towers and Graham Greene, author of The Third Man, had the same literary agent, and Towers learned that Greene had not sold the rights to the character of Harry Lime to Alexander Korda when he sold Korda The Third Man. Towers quickly bought the rights to the character and in 1951 he put a syndicated radio series into production. Orson Welles reprised the role of Harry Lime in a series of adventures that preceded the story told in The Third Man.

Several episodes would begin with "The Third Man Theme" being played, abruptly cut off by an echoing gunshot. Then Welles would speak: "That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime ... but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives ... and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime."

Although often cited as a BBC production, the series was one of a number produced and distributed independently by Towers of London and syndicated internationally.


The episode "Man of Mystery", written by Welles, was later expanded by him and served as the basic plot for his film Mr. Arkadin.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gunsmoke



Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the UK, the television series was initially titled Gun Law, later reverting to Gunsmoke.



The radio series ran from 1952 to 1961. John Dunning wrote that among radio drama enthusiasts, "Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time." The television series ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and stands as the United States' longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, Law & Order tied Gunsmoke for most seasons for a live action drama series when it finished its twentieth and final season, but the show finished 179 episodes short of Gunsmoke's final total; in terms of prime-time scripted series with continuing characters, The Simpsons is the only program to exceed 20 seasons. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote: "Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and [Mark] Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend."

Other regular characters were Chester Proudfoot, played by Parley Baer; Kitty, played by Georgia Ellis; and Doc Adams, played by Howard McNear.

The series featured top-notch acting and well-developed scripts that set it apart from many other shows, not only Westerns; however, it was the sound effects that stood out the most. Listen carefully and one can hear many levels of sound that really helps transport the listener back to the old west.

Besides the US version, there was an Austrailian production of Gunsmoke. It began sometime in 1955, transcribed under the Artransa label, and aired Mondays at 7:00 PM on the Macquarie network. It is not known how many shows aired or how long the series ran.
















JOHN WAYNE introducing the first episode of 'GUNSMOKE' (September 1955)



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ellery Queen


Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York—Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905 – September 3, 1982) and Emanuel Benjamin Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905 – April 3, 1971)—to write, edit, and anthologize detective fiction. The fictional Ellery Queen created by Dannay and Lee is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders.

Ellery Queen was created in 1928 when Dannay and Lee entered a writing contest sponsored by McClure's Magazine for the best first mystery novel. They decided to use as their collective pseudonym the same name that they had given their detective. Inspired by the formula and style of the Philo Vance novels by S. S. Van Dine, their entry won the contest, but before it could be published, the magazine closed. Undeterred, the cousins took their novel to other publishers, and The Roman Hat Mystery was published in 1929.

The Roman Hat Mystery established a reliable template: a geographic formula title (The Dutch Shoe Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, etc.); an unusual crime; a complex series of clues and red herrings; multiple misdirected solutions before the final truth is revealed, and a cast of supporting characters including Ellery's father, Inspector Richard Queen, and his irascible assistant, Sergeant Velie. What became the most famous part of the early Ellery Queen books was the "Challenge to the Reader." This was a single page near the end of the book declaring that the reader had seen all the same clues Ellery had, and that only one solution was possible. According to novelist/critic Julian Symons, "The rare distinction of the books is that this claim is accurate. There are problems in deduction that do really permit of only one answer, and there are few crime stories indeed of which this can be said."

In a successful series of novels and short stories that covered 42 years, "Ellery Queen" served as a joint pseudonym for the cousins Dannay and Lee, as well as the name of the primary detective-hero they created. During the 1930s and much of the 1940s, that detective-hero was possibly the best known American fictional detective. Movies, radio shows, and television shows were based on Dannay and Lee's works.

The two writers, particularly Dannay, were also responsible for co-founding and directing Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, generally considered one of the most influential English-language crime fiction magazines of the last sixty-five years. They were also prominent historians in the field, editing numerous collections and anthologies of short stories such as The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes. Their 994-page anthology for The Modern Library, 101 Years' Entertainment: The Great Detective Stories, 1841–1941, was a landmark work that remained in print for many years. Under their collective pseudonym, the cousins were given the Grand Master Award for achievements in the field of the mystery story by the Mystery Writers of America in 1961.

On radio, The Adventures of Ellery Queen was heard on all three networks from 1939 to 1948. During the 1970s, syndicated radio fillers, Ellery Queen's Minute Mysteries, began with an announcer saying, "This is Ellery Queen..." and contained a short one-minute case. The radio station encouraged callers to solve the mystery and win a sponsor's prize. Once a winner was found, the solution was broadcast as confirmation. A complete episode guide and history of this radio program can be found in the book The Sound of Detection: Ellery Queen's Adventures in Radio, published by OTR Publishing in 2002. The Adventure of the Murdered Moths (Crippen & Landru, 2005) is the first book edition of many of the radio scripts.

Helene Hanff, best known for her book 84 Charing Cross Road, was a scripter for the television series version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1950–1952), which began on the DuMont Television Network but soon moved to ABC. Shortly after the series began, Richard Hart, who played Queen, died and was replaced in the lead role by Lee Bowman. The series returned to DuMont in 1954 with Hugh Marlowe in the title role. George Nader played Queen in The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (1958–1959), but he was replaced with Lee Philips in the final episodes.

Peter Lawford starred in a television movie, Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You, in 1971. Veteran actor Harry Morgan played Inspector Queen, but in this film he was described as Ellery's uncle (perhaps to account for the fact that Morgan was only eight years Lawford's senior, or for Lawford's English accent). This film is loosely based on Cat of Many Tails.

The 1975 television movie Ellery Queen (a.k.a. "Too Many Suspects"—a loose adaptation of The Fourth Side of the Triangle) led to the 1975–1976 Ellery Queen television series starring Jim Hutton in the title role (with David Wayne as his widowed father). The series was done as a period piece set in New York City in 1946-1947. Sergeant Velie, Inspector Queen's assistant, was a cast regular in this series; he had appeared in the novels and the radio series, but had not been seen regularly in any of the previous television versions. Each episode contained a "Challenge to the Viewer" with Ellery breaking the fourth wall to go over the facts of the case and invite the audience to solve the mystery on their own, immediately before the solution was revealed. Each episode of the 1975 television series featured a number of Hollywood celebrities. Eve Arden, George Burns, Joan Collins, Roddy McDowall, Milton Berle, Guy Lombardo, Rudy VallĂ©e, and Don Ameche were among the guests. Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators of the series had won a Special Edgars Award for creating the Columbo and Ellery Queen TV series.


In 2011, the Leverage episode "The 10 Li'l Grifters Job", Timothy Hutton's character Nate Ford appears at a costumed murder mystery party as Ellery Queen, in a homage to the actor's late father, Jim.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mail Call


Mail Call was an American radio program that entertained American soldiers from 1942 until 1945, during World War II. Lt. Col. Thomas A.H. Lewis (commander of the Armed Forces Radio Service) wrote in 1944, "The initial production of the Armed Forces Radio Service was 'Mail Call,' a morale-building half hour which brought famed performers to the microphone to sing and gag in the best American manner." The program featured popular entertainers of that day, such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, and Dinah Shore, performing musical numbers and comedy skits to boost the morale of soldiers stationed far from their homes. Lewis added, "To a fellow who has spent months guarding an outpost in the South Seas, Iceland or Africa a cheery greeting from a favorite comedian, a song hit direct from Broadway, or the beating rhythm of a hot band, mean a tie with the home to which he hopes soon to return.

 Mail Call and other AFRS programs were produced in Los Angeles, Calif., with the organization's headquarters at 6011 Santa Monica Boulevard, The location provided access to top-flight entertainers, staff and facilities. The Encyclopedia of Radio noted: "Los Angeles was selected as the headquarters because of its proximity to the entertainment industry, which quickly gave its overwhelming support. The mission of the new AFRS was to provide American servicemen 'a touch of home' through the broadcast of American news and entertainment." Among the behind-the-scenes people was Meredith Willson (perhaps best known for writing "The Music Man"), who was the first musical director for AFRS.

After World War II ended, the need for shows like Mail Call diminished, resulting in changes in AFRS programming. Broadcasting magazine reported that the end for Mail Call and eight "other service radio shows requiring outside talent" came in 1950 when the "AFRS budget was ... cut by $153,000 by the Secretary of Defense." Other shows discontinued in the move were as follows Command Performance, Redd Harper Hollywood Roundup, GI Jive, Jill's Juke Box, Chiquita, Personal Album, Lucky Grab Bag and Bob Carleton Show.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Big Story



The Big Story is an American radio and television crime drama which dramatized the true stories of real-life newspaper reporters. The only continuing character was the narrator, Bob Sloane.

Sponsored by Pall Mall cigarettes, the program began on NBC Radio on April 2, 1947. With Lucky Strike cigarettes sponsoring the last two years, it was broadcast until March 23, 1955. The radio series was top rated, rivaling Bing Crosby's Philco Radio Time. Produced by Barnard J. Prockter, the shows were scripted by Gail Ingram, Arnold Pearl and Max Ehrlich. Tom Victor and Harry Ingram directed the series. Gail and Harry Ingram were husband and wife. The theme was taken from Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life"), a tone poem by Richard Strauss.

The radio series was adapted for television where it debuted on NBC on September 16, 1949. The series continued to air on NBC until June 28, 1957, after which it appeared in syndication until 1958. The half-hour program was hosted by Robert Sloane, Norman Rose, Ben Grauer, and, finally, Burgess Meredith.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Broadway Is My Beat



Broadway Is My Beat, a radio crime drama, ran on CBS from February 27, 1949 to August 1, 1954. Anthony Ross portraying Times Square Detective Danny Clover, the show originated from New York during its first three months on the air. For the remainder of the series, the role of Detective Danny Clover was portrayed by Larry Thor. The series featured music by Robert Stringer, and scripts by Peter Lyon. John Dietz directed for producer Lester Gottlieb (eventually succeeding him as producer). Bern Bennett was the original announcer. Beginning with the July 7, 1949 episode, the series was broadcast from Hollywood with producer Elliott Lewis directing a new cast in scripts by Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin.



The opening theme of "I'll Take Manhattan" introduced Detective Danny Clover, a hardened New York City cop who worked homicide "from Times Square to Columbus Circle -- the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world."

Danny Clover narrated the tales of the Great White Way to the accompaniment of music by Wilbur Hatch and Alexander Courage, and the recreation of Manhattan's aural tapestry required the talents of three sound effects technicians (David Light, Ralph Cummings, Ross Murray). Bill Anders was the show's announcer, as was Joe Walters.

The supporting cast included regulars Charles Calvert (as Sgt. Gino Tartaglia) and Jack Kruschen (as Sgt. Muggavan), with episodic roles filled by such radio actors as Irene Tedrow, Barney Phillips, Lamont Johnson, Herb Ellis, Hy Averback, Edgar Barrier, Betty Lou Gerson, Harry Bartell, Sheldon Leonard, Martha Wentworth, Lawrence Dobkin and Mary Jane Croft, and Eve McVeagh.

 Stories came to a climax in the lonely hours just before dawn: Broadway is sleeping now... the furious avenues of the night are still... only the sleepwalkers are there... the seekers, the sodden... it's Broadway. The gaudiest. The most violent. The lonesomest mile in the world. Broadway... my beat!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Abbott and Costello


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

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

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

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

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

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






More on Abbott and Costello at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_and_Costello