Friday, May 27, 2016

The Adventures of Maisie

The Adventures of Maisie (aka Maisie) is a radio comedy series starring Ann Sothern as underemployed entertainer Maisie Ravier, a spin-off of Sothern's successful 1939–1947 Maisie movie series, based on the Maisie short stories by Nell Martin. The series was heard on CBS Radio, NBC Radio, the Mutual Radio Network, and Mutual flagship radio station WHN in NYC.

 Sponsored by Eversharp, the first series ran on CBS Radio from July 5, 1945, to March 28, 1947, airing on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. during the first two months, then moving to Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. (1945–46), then Fridays at 10:30 p.m. (1946–47). The supporting cast included Hy Averback, Arthur Q. Bryan, Hans Conried, Virginia Gregg, Peter Leeds, Johnny McGovern, and Sidney Miller. John 'Bud' Hiestand was one of its many announcers, Harry Zimmerman and Albert Sack supplied the music, and John L. Greene was the producer. Tony Sanford directed scripts by Samuel Taylor and others.

The series was heard on the Mutual Radio Network from January 11 to December 26, 1952, and it was syndicated from 1949 to 1952 with Pat McGeehan as Eddie Jordan. Bea Benaderet and Elvia Allman portrayed Mrs. Kennedy. The supporting cast included Averback, Conreid, Leeds, McGovern, Lurene Tuttle, Ben Wright, Sandra Gould, and Jeffrey Silver. Harry Zimmerman led the orchestra with John Easton and Jack McCoy announcing.

The show popularized the 1940s catch phrase, "Likewise, I'm sure."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Weird Circle

The Weird Circle premise is noteworthy: an anthology of classic, supernatural mystery thrillers from the pens of the world's best known and respected supernatural fiction authors. The scripts--with rare few exceptions--acquit themselves well for the genre. 

The supernatural thriller genre was highly popular throughout the mid-1930s, right on through the mid-1950s over Radio.

 The Weird Circle was an RCA-syndicated feature from RCA Recorded Program Services, the independent programming production division of RCA Victor. Its sound quality, voice talent, and production values meet traditionally high RCA standards. As a consequence of those standards, the resulting recordings have stood the test of time--a huge bonus for Golden Age Radio transcriptionists, preservationists and collectors.

 The program was reportedly recorded out of RCA's New York Studios, and almost immediately licensed to both NBC-Red/RCA [WEAF] and the Mutual Broadcasting System [WOR and W-G-N], consisting of two, 39-script seasons of 25-minute productions, for local sponsors and networks alike. As illustrated in the Provenances section, NBC [RCA] created their own set of transcription disks as well, as did the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

 Sponsors varied as the series was picked up throughout affiliate stations across the U.S. One incarnation of note was Ogden Fine Cut Tobacco's sponsorship of The Weird Circle, packaged as the Odgen's Playhouse. Ogden's Playhouse didn't air the run in transcription order over U.S. stations. It aired other features under the Ogden's Playhouse banner as well. In Canada however, Ogden's Playhouse aired The Weird Circle series weekly without other intervening productions. Other sponsors of note were the Farr Ice Cream Company [West Coast], 7-Up [Arizona], and Remar's Bread [West Coast].

 The Weird Circle's earliest airing appears to have been over Chicago's W-G-N, a founding Mutual Broadcasting System station, as a sustaining program for its first season (the program aired as two syndicated seasons of productions). Previous difficulty in nailing down the program's episode sequence and earliest broadcast run are probably contributing factors in the poor results of past efforts to document this otherwise highly collectable program.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Philco Radio Time

Philco Radio Time was an old-time radio radio series starring entertainer Bing Crosby. The series ran over ABC Radio with episodes airing from October 16, 1946–June 1, 1949. The series also was syndicated for a period of time over the Armed Forces Radio Network.

 The series is also known for being the first pre-recorded radio program aired on the major USA radio networks. For the first season, the shows were recorded on disc, but beginning with the series' second season, the show began using Ampex tape recorders for their broadcasts.

The program was usually recorded in Hollywood and was sponsored by the Philco Corporation.

Starting in 1931, singer and entertainer Bing Crosby had had many appearances on radio as a solo performer before Philco Radio Time. In January 1936, Crosby moved from CBS Radio to NBC working as the master of ceremonies for The Kraft Music Hall. In June 1945, with the ensuing accompaniment of much legal wrangling, Bing Crosby terminated his almost, ten-year association with the Kraft Foods Company, leaving himself free to choose another sponsor. He declined other offers in favour of a deal with the Philco Corporation of America which, apart from the financial considerations involved, afforded the appealing convenience of pre-recording his broadcasts. He was obliged to honour an agreement with Kraft which required him to appear in thirteen more shows, the last of which was broadcast in May 1946 but then, on Wednesday October 16th 1946, ‘'Philco Radio Time' - The Bing Crosby Show’, opened on the ABC network and (according to the publicity of the time), Wednesday, became ‘Bing’s Day’.

More programs can be found below, but be forewarned these are of varying quality.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Day in the Life of Dennis Day

Dennis Day (May 21, 1916 – June 22, 1988), born Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty, was an American singer, radio, television and film personality and comedian of Irish descent.

 Day was born and raised in The Bronx New York City in the Throggs Neck section; the second of five children born to Irish immigrants Patrick McNulty and Mary (née Grady) McNulty. His father was a factory electric power engineer. Day graduated from Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in New York City, and attended Manhattan College in the Bronx, where he sang in the glee club.

Day appeared for the first time on Jack Benny's radio show on October 8, 1939, taking the place of another famed tenor, Kenny Baker. He remained associated with Benny's radio and television programs until Benny's death in 1974. He was introduced (with actress Verna Felton playing his mother) as a young (nineteen-year-old), naive boy singer – a character he kept through his whole career.

Mary Livingstone, Benny's wife, brought the singer to Benny's attention after hearing Day on the radio during a visit to New York. She took a recording of Day's singing to Benny, who then went to New York to audition Day. The audition resulted in Day's role on the Benny program.

Day's first recorded song was "Goodnight My Beautiful".

Besides singing, Dennis Day was a mimic. On the Benny program, Day performed impressions of various noted celebrities of the era, including Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante and James Stewart.

From 1944 through 1946 he served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring on his own NBC show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946–1951). Day's having two programs in comparison to Benny's one was the subject of numerous jokes and gags on Benny's show, usually revolving around Day rubbing Benny's, and sometimes other cast members' and guest stars' noses in that fact. His last radio series was a comedy/variety show that aired on NBC's Sunday afternoon schedule during the 1954–55 season.

An attempt was made to adapt A Day in the Life Of Dennis Day as an NBC filmed series (Sam Berman's caricature of Dennis was used in the opening and closing titles), produced by Jerry Fairbanks for Dennis' sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive, featuring the original radio cast, but got no farther than an unaired 1949 pilot episode. In late 1950, a sample kinescope was produced by Colgate and their ad agency showcasing Dennis as host of a projected "live" comedy/variety series (The Dennis Day Show) for CBS, but that, too, went unsold. He continued to appear as a regular cast member when The Jack Benny Program became a TV series, staying with the show until it ended in 1965.

Eventually, his own TV series, The Dennis Day Show (aka The RCA Victor Show), was first telecast on NBC on February 8, 1952, and then in the 1953–1954 season. Between 1952 and 1978, he made numerous TV appearances as a singer and actor (such as NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show and ABC's The Bing Crosby Show and Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and voice for animation, such as the Walt Disney feature Johnny Appleseed, handling multiple characters.

During the final season of The Jack Benny Program (1964–65), Day was nearly 49 years old, although Jack was still delivering such lines as "That crazy kid drives me nuts ..."

His last televised work with Benny was in 1970, when they both appeared in a public service announcement together to promote savings and loans. This was shortly after the whole cast and crew of The Jack Benny Show had gotten together for Jack Benny's Twentieth Anniversary Special.

In 1972, he co-starred with June Allyson and Judy Canova in the First National Tour of the Broadway musical No, No, Nanette.

In 1976, Day was the voice of "The Preacher" in the Rankin-Bass production Frosty's Winter Wonderland and again worked with them in 1978, when he voiced Fred in The Stingiest Man in Town, which was their animated version of Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol.

He also appeared in Date with the Angels – Season 1, Episode 13 as himself. Aired Friday 9:30 PM October 25, 1957 on ABC – some records show it was episode 19 titled Star Struck.

In 1948, Day married Peggy Almquist; the marriage lasted until his death in 1988. The couple had ten children. His brother Jim McNulty, two years younger, was married to actress/singer Ann Blyth.

Day died on June 22, 1988, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease), in Los Angeles, California. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6646 Hollywood Boulevard. He is interred in Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Bob Hope Show

 Bob Hope, born Leslie Townes Hope, (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was an English-born American comedian and actor who appeared on Broadway, in vaudeville, movies, television, and on the radio. He was noted for his numerous United Service Organizations (USO) shows entertaining American military personnel—he made 57 tours for the USO between 1942 and 1988. Throughout his long career, he was honored for this work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress declared him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."

Over a career spanning 60 years (1934 to 1994), Hope appeared in over 70 films and shorts, including a series of "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. In addition to hosting the Academy Awards fourteen times, he appeared in many stage productions and television roles, and was the author of fourteen books. He participated in the sports of golf and boxing, and owned a small stake in his hometown baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He was married to Grace Troxell from 1933 until 1934 and to Dolores Hope from 1934 until his death.

In the early days, Hope's career included appearances on stage in Vaudeville shows and Broadway productions. He began performing on the radio in 1934 and switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950s. He began doing regular TV specials in 1954, and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times in the period from 1941 to 1978. Overlapping with this was his movie career, spanning the years 1934 to 1972, and his USO tours, which he did from 1942 to 1988.

Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers. The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity was overshadowed by television.

For a more detailed account of the legendary Bob Hope's personal and professional life, start with his Wikipedia Page.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Inner Sanctum Mystery

Inner Sanctum Mystery, also known as Inner Sanctum, a popular old-time radio program that aired from January 7, 1941 to October 5, 1952, was created by producer Himan Brown and was based on the generic title given to the mystery novels of Simon and Schuster. In all, 526 episodes were broadcast.

This anthology series featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense, and its tongue-in-cheek introductions were in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler. The early 1940s programs opened with Raymond Edward Johnson introducing himself as, "Your host, Raymond," in a mocking sardonic voice. A spooky melodramatic organ score (played by Lew White) punctuated Raymond's many morbid jokes and playful puns. Raymond's closing was an elongated "Pleasant dreeeeaams, hmmmmm?" His tongue-in-cheek style and ghoulish relish of his own tales became the standard for many such horror narrators to follow, from fellow radio hosts like Ernest Chappell (on Wyllis Cooper's later series, Quiet, Please) and Maurice Tarplin (on The Mysterious Traveler).

When Johnson left the series in May 1945 to serve in the Army, he was replaced by Paul McGrath, who did not keep the "Raymond" name and was known only as "Your Host" or "Mr. Host". (Berry Kroeger had substituted earlier for a total of four episodes). McGrath was a Broadway actor who turned to radio for a regular income. Beginning in 1945, Lipton Tea sponsored the series, pairing first Raymond and then McGrath with cheery commercial spokeswoman Mary Bennett (aka the "Tea Lady"), whose blithesome pitches for Lipton Tea contrasted sharply with the macabre themes of the stories. She primly chided the host for his trademark dark humor and creepy manner.

The program's familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown got the idea from a door in the basement that "squeaked like Hell." The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop. On at least one memorable occasion, a staffer innocently repaired and oiled the chair, thus forcing the sound man to mimic the squeak orally.

Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were usually effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes included "Terror by Night" (September 18, 1945) and an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (August 3, 1941). The latter starred Boris Karloff, who was heard regularly in the first season, starring in more than 15 episodes and returning sporadically thereafter.

Other established stars in the early years included Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, Claude Rains, Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles. Most of the lead and supporting players were stalwarts of New York radio. These included Santos Ortega, Larry Haines, Ted Osborne, Luis van Rooten, Stefan Schnabel, Ralph Bell, Mercedes McCambridge, Berry Kroeger, Lawson Zerbe, Arnold Moss, Leon Janney, Myron McCormick, Ian Martin, and Mason Adams. Players like Richard Widmark, Everett Sloane, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Ken Lynch, Anne Seymour, and Santos Ortega also found fame or notability in film or television.
Of more than 500 programs broadcast, only about 200 remain in circulation, sometimes minus dates or titles.

A series of six low-budget Universal Horror movies starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and based on the radio show was produced in the 1940s: Calling Dr. Death (1943), Weird Woman (1944), Dead Man's Eyes (1944), The Frozen Ghost (1945), Strange Confession (1945) and Pillow of Death (1945).A Film Classics release Inner Sanctum was made in 1948.

The 1954 syndicated television series featured Paul McGrath as the off-camera host/narrator. The TV shows were produced at the Chelsea Studios in New York City.

In the 1970s, with his CBS Radio Mystery Theater series, Himan Brown recycled both the creaking door opening, and to a lesser extent, the manner of Raymond. The hosts were E. G. Marshall and Tammy Grimes. In later repeats during the 1990s, Brown himself mimicked Raymond's "Pleasant dreeeeaaams, hmmmmm?" for the familiar closing.