Thursday, November 24, 2016

A VERY VINTRAD THANKSGIVING!



Thanksgiving is here! And we here at VINTRAD urge you to slow down, pause a few moments and take stock in what you're truly thankful for.

Reflect on all of the wonderful blessings that life has to offer: family, friends and of course-old time radio.

We are thankful for all of the fans and friends of VINTRAD and would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Thank you for allowing us to share our love of vintage old-time radio with you.

Thank YOU!

Linked above is a great collection of 100 Thanksgiving themed old time radio programs found on Archive.org.

Here is the direct link.
http://archive.org/details/100OtrThanksgivingHolidayShows

Enjoy and have a very VINTRAD Thanksgiving!

Gunsmoke: Turkey Shoot




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)



Challenge of the Yukon: Thanksgiving in the Wilderness



Challenge of the Yukon was a radio series that began on Detroit's station WXYZ (as had The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet), and an example of a Northern genre story. The series was first heard on February 3, 1938.

The title changed from Challenge of the Yukon to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon in November 1951, and remained under that name through the end of the series and into television. The program was an adventure series about Sergeant William Preston of the North-West Mounted Police and his lead sled dog, Yukon King, as they fought evildoers in the Northern wilderness during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. Preston, according to radio historian Jim Harmon, first joined the Mounties to capture his father's killer, and when he was successful he was promoted to sergeant. Preston worked under the command of Inspector Conrad, and in the early years was often assisted by a French-Canadian guide named Pierre.

 Preston's staunchest ally, who was arguably the true star of the show and indeed often did more work than he did, was the brave Alaskan husky, Yukon King. Typical plots involved the pair helping injured trappers, tracking down smugglers, or saving cabin dwellers from wolverines. Sergeant Preston's faithful steed was Rex, used primarily in the summer months, but generally Yukon King and his dog team were the key mode of transportation (as signaled by Preston's cry of "On, King! On, you huskies!)."

There is some confusion regarding King's actual breed. The writers seemed to use malamute and husky interchangeably. At least once, Preston answered "malamute" to the question from another character. In one radio episode Preston indicates King's mother had been a wolf, which would make him a wolfdog. In the early radio shows, the cry of "On, you huskies!" would alternate with "On, you malamutes" from show to show.

The theme music was Emil von Reznicek's overture to Donna Diana a now long-forgotten opera, though the overture remains a concert staple to this day. The show's episodes ended with the official pronouncement, Well, King, this case is closed.


Following the success of Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, George W. Trendle, the station owner, asked for a similar adventure show, but with a dog as the hero. According to WXYZ staffer Dick Osgood, in his history of the station, Trendle insisted that it not be "a dog like Lassie because.. this must be an action story. It had to be a working dog." Writer Tom Dougall, who had been influenced by the poems of Robert W. Service, naturally chose a Husky. The dog was originally called Mogo, but after criticism by Trendle, Dougall re-christened the canine King. Dougall likewise created Sgt. Preston and the French-Canadian guide. Fran Striker, who wrote for The Lone Ranger, also contributed scripts.

However, Trendle's criticism of Dougall may have had another reason behind it. Shortly before the two Trendle series aired (Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon), popular author Zane Grey had a book in circulation (Lone Star Ranger) about a Texas Ranger like the Lone Ranger and a comic book series in circulation (King of the Royal Mounted) about the adventures of Sgt. King, a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman like Sgt. Preston. It could be that Trendle borrowed both ideas from Grey's work and wanted to retain the name "King" as a tribute to Grey, who died after a long illness one year following the first airing of Challenge of the Yukon.


Challenge of the Yukon began as a 15-minute serial, airing locally from 1938 until May 28, 1947. Shortly thereafter, the program acquired a sponsor, Quaker Oats, and the series, in a half-hour format, moved to the networks. The program aired on ABC from June 12, 1947, to December 30, 1949. It was then heard on The Mutual Broadcasting System from January 2, 1950, through the final broadcast on June 9, 1955. In November 1951, the title changed to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.

 Radio cast:

  Sgt. Preston – The part of Sgt. Preston was played by different actors over the course of the long run. Jay Michael, who had often played villain Butch Cavendish on The Lone Ranger, originated the role, and played the brave Mountie from 1938 through the mid 1940s. Former movie actor Paul Sutton took over the role, followed briefly by Brace Beemer when The Lone Ranger ended in 1954. Sutton took over again, however, by the time of the final broadcast.

Yukon King – The barks, whines, and howls of Yukon King were supplied by one of the station's sound effects men, Dewey Cole, and following Cole's death, by actor Ted Johnstone.

Narrator and supporting players – The original announcer/narrator was Bob Hite, also a narrator for the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet and The Shadow. Hite was replaced by former star Jay Michael when Sutton took over. Lone Ranger narrator Fred Foy also filled the role from time to time. John Todd was heard occasionally as Inspector Conrad, and Frank Russell played Pierre. Episodic performers came from the same talent pool as the other WXYZ shows.

From 1951 to 1958 Dell Comics published 29 issues of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. The first four issues appeared bi-annually, then quarterly, in the weekly catch-all series, Four Color Comics (#344,373,397,419), then assumed its own numbering with issue #5, most-often as a quarterly but also bi-monthly. All issues were written by Gaylord Du Bois (creator of Turok), and illustrated by Alberto Giolitti (best known as the long-time illustrator of Turok). The Dell comic book covers were paintings portraying drama or action, featuring Yukon King and Sergeant Preston in exciting scenes. Once the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon television series premiered, the comic book featured photo covers of the TV series star in character as Sergeant Preston.


 In 1955, the same year the radio show ended, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon premiered as a television series. Richard Simmons starred as Sgt. Preston, and was supported by Yukon King and Rex, now played by real animals. The dog cast as King was not a husky, however, but a large Alaskan Malamute. Charles Livingstone, who had worked on the radio version, directed several episodes. Though no plotlines seem to have been re-used from the radio show, they were generally built upon the same themes. The same few buildings were regularly seen as part of many settlements in the shows. The additional visual component of the snowy Yukon, however, did give the television version a different feel but like all such films when filmed on a stage set, the frosty breath of people in Arctic conditions could not be simulated. Generally, however, there was an outdoor feel though a few times shadows on the skyline could be seen. Genuine outdoor scenes were added to give the show some reality though the viewer could not help but notice a sameness to them as they were all filmed in the same area and reused at times.

Mainly filmed at Ashcroft, Colorado, the series was telecast on CBS from September 29, 1955, to September 25, 1958. The first two seasons were produced by Trendle-Campbell-Meurer, and the show was broadcast in the same time slot as ABC's The Lone Ranger. In its last season, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was purchased and produced by the Jack Wrather Corporation.


In 1955, the Quaker Oats company gave away land in the Klondike as part of a promotional tie-in with the television show. Genuine deeds each to one square inch of a lot in Yukon Territory, issued by Klondike Big Inch Land Co. Inc., were inserted into Quaker's Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereal boxes.

Sergeant Preston comics online!

The Life of Riley: Thanksgiving with the Gillis's


The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, is a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a long-run 1950s television series (originally with Jackie Gleason as Riley for 1 truncated season, then with Bendix for 6 seasons), and a 1958 Dell comic book.
The show began as a proposed Groucho Marx radio series, The Flotsam Family, but the sponsor balked at what would have been essentially a straight head-of-household role for the comedian. (Groucho went on to host Blue Ribbon Town from 1943 to 1944 and then You Bet Your Life from 1947 to 1961.) Then producer Irving Brecher saw Bendix as taxicab company owner Tim McGuerin in Hal Roach's The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942). The Flotsam Family was reworked with Bendix cast as blundering Chester A. Riley, a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California. His frequent exclamation of indignation became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s: "What a revoltin' development this is!" The radio series benefited from the immense popularity of a supporting character, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown), "the friendly undertaker."

The first Life of Riley radio show was a summer replacement show heard on CBS from April 12, 1941 to September 6, 1941. The CBS program starred Lionel Stander as J. Riley Farnsworth and had no real connection with the more famous series that followed a few years later.
The radio program starring William Bendix as Riley initially aired on the Blue Network, later known as ABC, from January 16, 1944 to June 8, 1945. Then it moved to NBC, where it was broadcast from September 8, 1945 to June 29, 1951. The supporting cast featured Paula Winslowe portraying Peg, Riley's wife, as well as John Brown, who portrayed not only undertaker "Digger" O'Dell but also Riley's co-worker Jim Gillis. (Brown also played the character of Waldo Binny.) Whereas Gillis gave Riley bad information that got him into trouble, Digger gave him good information that "helped him out of a hole," as he might have put it. Brown's lines as the undertaker were often repetitive, including puns based on his profession; but, thanks to Brown's delivery, the audience loved him. The program was broadcast live with a studio audience, most of whom were not aware Brown played both characters. As a result, when Digger delivered his first line, it was usually greeted with howls of laughter and applause from surprised audience members.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Mel Blanc Show - The Thanksgiving Show



Melvin Jerome "Mel" Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. during the "Golden Age of American animation" (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such well-known characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Taz, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, Heathcliff, Speedy Gonzales, Tom and Jerry, and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry.
At the time of his death, it was estimated that 20 million people heard his voice every day.

Blanc began his radio career in 1927 as a voice actor on the Portland, Oregon, KGW program The Hoot Owls, where his ability to provide voices for multiple characters first attracted attention. He moved to KEX in 1933 to produce and host his Cobweb And Nuts show, which debuted on June 15. The program played Monday through Saturday from 11:00 pm to midnight, and by the time the show ended two years later, it appeared from 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
Blanc moved to Warner Bros.-owned KFWB in Hollywood, California, in 1935. He joined The Johnny Murray Show, but the following year switched to CBS Radio and The Joe Penner Show. Blanc was a regular on the NBC Red Network show The Jack Benny Program in various roles, including voicing Benny's Maxwell automobile (in desperate need of a tune-up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, Benny's pet polar bear Carmichael, the tormented department store clerk, and the train announcer.

One of Blanc's most memorable characters from Benny's radio (and later TV) programs was "Sy, the Little Mexican", who spoke one word at a time. The famous "Sí...Sy...sew...Sue" routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of Blanc and Benny.

At times, sharp-eyed audience members (and later, TV viewers) could see Benny struggling to keep a straight face; Blanc's absolute dead-pan delivery was a formidable challenge for him. Benny's daughter, Joan, recalls that Mel Blanc was one of her father's closest friends in real life, because "nobody else on the show could make him laugh the way Mel could."



 Blanc's success on The Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS Radio Network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946, to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, as well as his young cousin Zookie (who sounded quite a bit like Porky Pig). Many episodes required Mel to impersonate an exotic foreigner or other stranger in town, ostensibly for carrying out a minor deception on his girlfriend's father, but of course simply as a vehicle for him to show off his talents. Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joseph Kearns, Hans Conried, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus, Bea Benaderet and The Sportsmen Quartet, who would supply a song and sing the Colgate Tooth Powder commercials. (Blanc would later work with Reed and Benaderet on The Flintstones.) Shows usually adhered to a predictable formula, involving a date with his girl Betty Colby (Mary Jane Croft) and trying to either impress her father or at least avoid angering him. However, Mr. Colby (Earle Ross) usually had occasion to deliver his trademark line, "Mel Blanc, I'm going to break every bone in your body!"

For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.

Blanc died on July 10, 1989 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California of heart disease and emphysema. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS," (the phrase was a trademark of the character Porky Pig, of whom, Blanc created the voice.)

For a more in depth insight into the life of this fascinating man, check out his extensive wikipedia page.

Enjoy!


The Burns and Allen Show: Gracie Buys a Live Turkey



Burns and Allen, an American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen, worked together as a comedy team in vaudeville, films, radio and television and achieved great success over four decades.

Burns and Allen met in 1922 and first performed together at the Hill Street Theatre in Newark, New Jersey, continued in small town vaudeville theaters, married in Cleveland on January 7, 1926, and moved up a notch when they signed with the Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit in 1927.

 Burns wrote most of the material and played the straight man. Allen played a silly, addle-headed woman, a role often attributed to the "Dumb Dora" stereotype common in early 20th-century vaudeville comedy. Early on, the team had played the opposite roles until they noticed that the audience was laughing at Gracie's straight lines, so they made the change. In later years, each attributed their success to the other.

In 1929 they made their first radio appearance in London on the BBC. Back in America, they failed at a 1930 NBC audition. After a solo appearance by Gracie on Eddie Cantor's radio show, they were heard together on Rudy Vallee's The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour and on February 15, 1932 they became regulars on The Guy Lombardo Show on CBS. When Lombardo switched to NBC, Burns and Allen took over his CBS spot with The Adventures of Gracie beginning September 19, 1934.

Along the way, the duo launched the temporary running gag that made them near-irrevocable radio stars: the famous hunt for Gracie's "lost brother," which began on January 4, 1933 and eventually became a cross-network phenomenon. Gracie was also liable to turn up on other shows (especially those produced by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, which produced the Burns & Allen series) looking for her brother. Bad publicity after a bid by NBC to squelch the stunt---and an accidental mention by Rudy Vallee on his Fleischmann's Hour---helped the stunt continue, according to radio historian John Dunning's On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, which also mentioned that Gracie's real brother, a "publicity-shy accountant" living in San Francisco, went into hiding until the gag ran its course.

Burns and Allen followed this up with another stunt: "Gracie Allen for President." During the election year of 1940, Gracie represented the fictitious Surprise Party and advocated nonsense as part of her platform. The "campaign" was successful enough for Gracie to actually receive write-in votes on election day.

The title of their top-rated show changed to The Burns and Allen Show on September 26, 1936. One successful episode, Grandpa's 92nd Birthday, aired on 8 July 1940. In 1941 they moved from comedy patter into a successful sitcom format, continuing with shows on NBC and CBS until May 17, 1950. As in the early days of radio, the sponsor's name became the show title, such as Maxwell House Coffee Time (1945–49).

Burns and Allen had several regulars on radio, including Toby Reed, Gale Gordon, Bea Benaderet, Gracie's real-life friend Mary "Bubbles" Kelly, Ray Noble, singers Jimmy Cash and Tony Martin and actor/writer/director Elliott Lewis. The Sportsmen Quartet (appearing as "The Swantet" during the years the show was sponsored by Swan Soap) supplied songs and occasionally backed up Cash. Meredith Willson, Artie Shaw and announcers Bill Goodwin and Harry Von Zell, who were usually made a part of the evening's doings, often as additional comic foils for the duo.

 When The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, aka The Burns and Allen Show, began on CBS Television October 12, 1950, it was an immediate success. The show was originally staged live before a studio audience (during its first three months, it originated from the Mansfield Theatre in New York, then relocated to CBS' Columbia Square facilities in Los Angeles). Ever the businessman, Burns realized it would be more efficient to do the series on film (beginning in the fall of 1952); the half-hour episodes could then be syndicated. From that point on, the show was shot without a live audience present, however, each installment would be screened before an audience to provide live responses prior to the episodes being broadcast. With 291 episodes, the show had a long network run through 1958 and continued in syndicated reruns for years.

After the live series ended, the shows were filmed at General Service Studios. The sets were designed to look like their real-life residence, often using an establishing shot of the actual house at 312 Maple Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Although extensively remodelled, that house still exists today—including the study over the garage where George would "escape" from Gracie's illogical logic. Burns lived in that house for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our Miss Brooks - Thanksgiving Turkey


Our Miss Brooks is an American situation comedy starring Eve Arden as a sardonic high school English teacher. It began as a radio show broadcast on CBS from 1948 to 1957. When the show was adapted to television (1952–56), it became one of the medium's earliest hits. In 1956, the sitcom was adapted for the big screen in the film of the same name.

Our Miss Brooks was a hit on radio from the outset; within eight months of its launch as a regular series, the show landed several honors, including four for Eve Arden, who won polls in four individual publications of the time. Arden had actually been the third choice to play the title role. Harry Ackerman, at the time CBS's West Coast director of programming, wanted Shirley Booth for the part, but as he told historian Gerald Nachman many years later, he realized Booth was too focused on the underpaid downside of public school teaching at the time to have fun with the role.

Lucille Ball was believed to have been the next choice, but she was already committed to My Favorite Husband and didn't audition. Then CBS chairman Bill Paley, who was friendly with Arden, persuaded her to audition for the part. With a slightly rewritten audition script--Osgood Conklin, for example, was originally written as a school board president but was now written as the incoming new Madison principal--Arden agreed to give the newly-revamped show a try.

Produced by Larry Berns and written by director Al Lewis, Our Miss Brooks premiered on CBS July 19, 1948. According to radio critic John Crosby, her lines were very "feline" in dialogue scenes with principal Conklin and would-be boyfriend Boynton, with sharp, witty comebacks. The interplay between the cast--blustery Conklin, nebbishy Denton, accommodating Harriet, absentminded Mrs. Davis, clueless Boynton, scheming Miss Enright--also received positive reviews. Arden won a radio listeners' poll by Radio Mirror magazine as the top ranking comedienne of 1948-49, receiving her award at the end of an Our Miss Brooks broadcast that March. "I'm certainly going to try in the coming months to merit the honor you've bestowed upon me, because I understand that if I win this two years in a row, I get to keep Mr. Boynton," she joked. But she was also a hit with the critics; a winter 1949 poll of newspaper and magazine radio editors taken by Motion Picture Daily named her the year's best radio comedienne.

For its entire radio life, the show was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, promoting Palmolive soap, Lustre Creme shampoo and Toni hair care products. The radio series continued until 1957, a year after its television life ended. This content is now available under public domain for download at http://www.archive.org at http://www.archive.org/details/Our_Miss_Brooks_190_Episodes

The Great Gildersleeve - Thanksgiving Dinner


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

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

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

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


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

via Wikipedia and http://www.greatgildersleeve.net/

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Roy Rogers Show



The Roy Rogers Show was a 30-minute Western radio program in the United States. It began in 1944, ended in 1955, and was carried on more than 500 stations.

 Like the television program of the same name, the show centered on Roy Rogers, one of the most popular singing-cowboy movie stars. Initially, the radio show differed in format from The Roy Rogers Show on TV, with the radio version being more oriented toward music. Toward its end, however, it moved more toward the adventure featured in the TV show. Radio historian John Dunning wrote:

"The early shows followed the pattern set by [Gene] Autry's Melody Ranch ... Rogers' show featured Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers in such fine Western favorites as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Cool Water," and "Don't Fence Me In." Much of the show was campfire banter and song, with Roy and songstress Pat Friday doing vocal solos, Perry Botkin leading the Goodyear orchestra and Verne Smith announcing. Dramatic skits were offered, but leaned to lighter material than what the show used in late years. Ultimately, it became primarily a Western thriller show."


The main actors in the program were familiar to fans of Rogers' movies. He was the star, with wife Dale Evans and sidekick Gabby Hayes. Initially, the Sons of the Pioneers were the featured musical group; in 1948, they were replaced by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage. In the show's later years, Pat Brady replaced Hayes. Hayes was Rogers' "grizzled sidekick from the movies," whereas Brady "was a different sort of sidekick, younger and more useful, although still comical."


Other people heard in the program over the years included Forrest Lewis, The Whippoorwills, and Joseph Kearns. Rogers' horse, Trigger, and dog, Bullet, were also featured regularly in the program.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tales of the Texas Rangers


Tales of the Texas Rangers is a 20th century Western old-time radio and television police procedural drama which originally aired on NBC Radio from 1950 to 1952 and later on CBS Television from 1955 to 1958. Film star Joel McCrea voiced the radio version as the fictitious Texas Ranger Jayce Pearson, who uses the latest scientific techniques to identify criminals. His faithful horse, Charcoal (or "Charky"), helps Pearson to track down the culprits. The radio shows, some of which are available on the Internet, are reenactments of actual Texas Ranger cases.

The television version was produced and also directed for several episodes by Stacy Keach, Sr. It was sponsored for part of its run by Wheaties cereal. Captain Manuel T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas, who was said to have killed thirty-one men during his 30-year career as a Texas Ranger, was the consultant for the television series, as he had been for the earlier radio series. The television version was filmed by Screen Gems.

On radio, Joel McCrea's Pearson often worked by request with a local sheriff's office or police department. But in the television version, Willard Parker assumed the role of Jace Pearson and had a regular partner, Ranger Clay Morgan, who had been an occasional character on the radio show. Morgan was portrayed in the television version by Harry Lauter. William Boyett appeared five times on the television series, including the role of Wade Crowell in the 1955 premiere episode, "Ransom Flight."

During the opening and closing credits of the television series, the actors march toward the camera as an off-screen men's chorus sings the theme song, "These Are Tales of Texas Rangers", to the tune of "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad". The radio series used contemporary cases and modern detective methods to solve crimes; it was a procedural drama, in many ways Jack Webb's Dragnet with a western flavor. The television version had some episodes set in the 1950s, comparable in some ways to Rod Cameron's syndicated series, State Trooper. Other episodes were set in the 19th century in a traditional western genre. In each case, Parker and Lauter were involved with chases and shoot-outs. The weaponry varied greatly between the modern and older stories.

Irving J. Moore, later with Gunsmoke, began his career as a director on two episodes of Tales of the Texas Rangers. Besides Keach and Moore, the other directors included Lew Landers, George Blair, and Earl Bellamy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes



The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is an old-time radio show which aired in the USA from October 2, 1939 to July 7, 1947. Most episodes were written by the team of Dennis Green and Anthony Boucher; some early episodes were written by Green and Leslie Charteris.

Originally, the show starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. Together, they starred in 220 episodes which aired weekly on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:00pm. Bromo Quinine sponsored some of the earlier programs on the NBC Blue Network and for a period Parker Pen was the sponsor. The show first aired on the Blue Network but later moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. It was originally broadcast from Hollywood. During World War II, the show was also broadcast overseas through the Armed Forces Radio Service. It is unknown exactly how many of the original 220 shows have survived, 53 are currently known to be in circulation.

Basil Rathbone's last episode as the famous Detective was "The Singular Affair of the Baconian Cipher." He was eager to separate himself from the show to avoid being typecast as Sherlock Holmes, and even though the show's sponsor Petri Wine offered him generous pay to continue, he decided to move on. Once he did, the sponsor did as well, and Tom Conway took the starring role, though Nigel Bruce got top billing and was always announced first. The new sponsor was Kreml Hair Tonic for Men, and the new series lasted only 39 episodes. Bruce and Conway then left the series. From then until 1950 the series continued as "Sherlock Holmes" with various actors playing the two principal parts.

With Rathbone and Bruce, the show exhibited an interesting introduction. The sponsor's spokesman, usually Knox Manning or Harry Bartell, or, during the show's initial season and again in the final season, Joseph Bell, would show up weekly at Dr. Watson's house (then retired and living in California), and share a story about Holmes and his adventures over a glass of Petri wine. This offered them the chance to sometimes bring in other characters to contribute to the story, and also gave Watson a chance to summarize or add additional tidbits at the end. Another interesting thing about this radio show's introductions was Dr. Watson's anecdotes and comments about his dogs usually referred to as the "Puppies."

List of Holmes and Watson actors on the program:

Holmes - Basil Rathbone (1939-1946) - Tom Conway {1947) - John Stanley (1947-1949) - Ben Wright (1947, 1949-1950)

Watson - Nigel Bruce (1939-1946) - Joseph Kearns (1946, stand in for Nigel Bruce) - Alfred Shirley (1947-1948) - Ian Martin (1947) - Wendell Holmes (credited as "George Spelvin") (1948-1949) - Eric Snowden (1946, 1949-1950).

Monday, November 14, 2016

My Friend Irma



My Friend Irma, created by writer-director-producer Cy Howard, is a top-rated, long-run radio situation comedy that spawned a media franchise. It was so popular in the late 1940s that its success escalated to films, television, a comic strip and a comic book. Marie Wilson portrayed the title character, Irma Peterson, on radio, in two films and the television series. The radio series was broadcast on the Columbia network from April 11, 1947, to August 23, 1954.


Dependable, level-headed Jane Stacy (Cathy Lewis—and Joan Banks during Stacy's illness in early 1949) began each weekly radio program by narrating a misadventure of her innocent, bewildered roommate, Irma, a scatterbrained stenographer from Minnesota. The two central characters were in their mid-twenties. Irma had her 25th birthday in one episode; she was born on May 5. After the two met in the first episode, they lived together in an apartment rented from their Irish landlady, Mrs. O'Reilly (Jane Morgan, Gloria Gordon).

Irma's boyfriend Al (John Brown) was a deadbeat, barely on the right side of the law, who had not held a job in years. Only someone like Irma could love Al, whose nickname for Irma was "Chicken". Al had many crazy get-rich-quick schemes, which never worked. Al planned to marry Irma at some future date so she could support him. Professor Kropotkin (Hans Conried), the Russian violinist at the Princess Burlesque theater, lived upstairs. He greeted Jane and Irma with remarks like, "My two little bunnies with one being an Easter bunny and the other being Bugs Bunny." The Professor insulted Mrs. O'Reilly, complained about his room, and reluctantly became O'Reilly's love interest in an effort to make her forget his back rent. In 1953, Conried dropped from the cast and was replaced by Kenny Delmar as his cousin, Maestro Wanderkin.

Irma worked for the lawyer, Mr. Clyde (Alan Reed). She had such an odd filing system that once when Clyde fired her, he had to hire her back again because he couldn't find anything. Useless at dictation, Irma mangled whatever Clyde dictated. Asked how long she had been with Clyde, Irma said, "When I first went to work with him he had curly black hair, then it got grey, and now it's snow white. I guess I've been with him about six months."

Irma became less bright and more scatterbrained as the program evolved. She also developed a tendency to whine or cry whenever something went wrong, which was at least once every show. Jane had a romantic inclination for her boss, millionaire Richard Rhinelander (Leif Erickson). Another actor in the show was Bea Benaderet.

The show was sponsored by Swan Soap, and Irma would usually make a silly remark about it so the name could be advertised. Frank Bingman was the announcer for Swan Soap. The program was also sponsored by ENNDS which got rid of breath and body odors and each tiny capsule was said to contain 100 mg of chlorophyll. Pepsodent was also a sponsor.

Because of the popularity of the show (early in the series, shows 41–43), a contest was run for the services of Irma/Marie Wilson to act as a secretary for the highest bidder for one day, with her willing to travel anywhere in America. The money was to go to the March of Dimes charity to fight polio. Three businessmen bid $1,000, but the winner was the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Fort Worth, Texas which bid $5,000.

The TV version, seen on CBS from January 1952 until June 1954, was the first series telecast from the CBS Television City facility in Hollywood.

The film My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson and Diana Lynn, but is mainly remembered today for introducing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to moviegoers, resulting in even more screen time for Martin and Lewis in the sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950).

The My Friend Irma comic strip, illustrated by Jack Seidel, began September 11, 1950, receiving a promotional boost in the November 7, 1950, issue of Look. In 1951, Dan DeCarlo took over the strip with Stan Lee scripting.

Atlas Comics (Marvel) published the My Friend Irma comic book which ran from #3 to #48 (1950–55), and was most often written by Stan Lee with art by Dan DeCarlo. After Atlas stopped publishing My Friend Irma, DeCarlo and Lee created a similar feature for Atlas titled My Girl Pearl.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons




Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was one of radio's longest running shows, airing October 12, 1937 to April 19, 1955, continuing well into the television era. It was produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, who based it upon Robert W. Chambers' 1906 novel The Tracer of Lost Persons. The sponsors included Whitehall Pharmacal (as in Anacin, Kolynos Toothpaste, BiSoDol antacid mints, Hill's cold tablets and Heet liniment), Dentyne, Aerowax, RCA Victor and Chesterfield cigarettes. It aired on the NBC Blue network until 1947, when it switched to CBS.

Bennett Kilpack began as Mr. Keen in 1937 with Arthur Hughes and then Phil Clarke stepping into the role later in the series. For 18 years the kindly Keen and his faithful assistant, Mike Clancy (Jim Kelly), entertained followers with their intuitive perception that kept listeners coming back for more. With 1690 nationwide broadcasts, Mr. Keen was the most resilient private detective in a namesake role. The nearest competitors were Nick Carter, Master Detective (726 broadcasts), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (657) and The Adventures of the Falcon (473). Only 59 of the 1690 Mr. Keen programs are known to survive.

Richard Leonard directed scripts by Barbara Bates, Stedman Coles, Frank Hummert, Lawrence Klee and Bob Shaw. James Fleming and Larry Elliott were the announcers. Al Rickey's band provided the background music, including the program's theme, "Someday I'll Find You."

The cliches, stereotypes and simplistic dialogue provided much fodder for Bob and Ray's memorable parody, Mr. Trace, Keener Than Most Persons, broadcast in numerous variations. It was also satirized by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis in Mad's fifth issue (June-July 1953) as "Kane Keen!"

The character of Mr. Keen was referenced by Alfred Hitchcock in one of his television shows, according to The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Patrik Wikstrom and Martin Grams, Jr. Mr. Keen is also mentioned in the stage version of Bye Bye Birdie by the character Mr. Harry MacAfee, who was played by Paul Lynde.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

People are Funny




People Are Funny is an American radio and television game show, created by John Guedel that ran from 1942 to 1960 in which contestants were asked to carry out stunts.

 The series began in 1938 when Guedel made an audition recording, and the following year, his concept of a comedy stunt show aired in Los Angeles as Pull Over, Neighbor, later reworked into All Aboard. Watching a bored, unreceptive audience listening to an after-dinner speaker, Guedel scribbled, "People are funny, aren't they?" on a napkin, and he had his title.

In 1942, learning of a show that was canceled, he pitched People Are Funny to NBC, and it went on the air April 10, 1942 with Art Baker as host. In a popular first-season stunt, a man was assigned to register a trained seal at the Knickerbocker Hotel while explaining that the seal was his girlfriend.

On October 1, 1943, Baker was replaced by Art Linkletter, who continued for the rest of the series. For a memorable stunt of 1945, Linkletter announced that $1,000 would go to the first person to find one of 12 plastic balls floating off California. Two years later, an Ennylageban Island native claimed the prize.


As the popularity of the program escalated, a movie musical titled People Are Funny was released in 1946, offering a fictional version of the show's origin in a tale of rival radio producers. Phillip Reed appeared as Guedel, with Linkletter and Frances Langford portraying themselves. Also in the cast were Jack Haley, Helen Walker, Ozzie Nelson and Rudy Vallée. One outstanding moment in the film is a Spanish dance number performed by Lupe Mayorga (aka Lillian Molieri) to the song "I Love My Marimba." The radio series moved to CBS from 1951 to 1954, returning to NBC from 1954 to 1960.

Linkletter continued as host of the show during its run on television from September 19, 1954 to April 1, 1960. In one stunt, a contestant would win a prize if he could sustain a phone conversation with a puzzled stranger (picked at random from the phone directory) for several minutes without the other party hanging up. The series received Emmy nominations in 1955 and 1956. It finished #27 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1955-1956 season, then finished #21 for 1956-1957 and #29 for 1957-1958.

Episodes are available on Hulu - People are Funny.

Although the series ended on April 1, 1960, the network aired encores until April 13, 1961, making People Are Funny the first game show to air repeats. On March 24, 1984, a "reconstituted" version of People Are Funny with Flip Wilson as host returned to NBC where it was telecast until July 21.

Derek Roy was the host of a 1955 British version.

The series was satirized in the 1959 Warner Bros. cartoon, People Are Bunny. The Art Linkletter character was named Art Lamplighter, and the show was entitled People are Phoney, in which contestant Daffy Duck became one of his unfortunate victims.

People Are Funny is mentioned in the "Ladies Room" episode of the series Mad Men, and later a clip from the show is seen on a TV set in the background.

Tuesday, November 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.

Monday, November 7, 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."

Sunday, November 6, 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.

Friday, November 4, 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)



Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Shadow

Easily one of the most beloved old time radio programs in my house is The Shadow. It was one of my dad's favorites growing up, and he passed that love on to my brother and I. Growing up when I did in the 70's and 80's, of course, these programs were no longer on the radio, so my interest in old-time radio began with seeking out AM radio stations rebroadcasting these shows, and buying them on cassette tapes.

Today with the advent of the internet and the availability of so many shows in MP3 format for free online, it has been really great to indulge my love of these wonderful old gems.

The Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in pulp magazines, then on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of the title character, a crime-fighting vigilante in the pulps, which carried over to the airwaves as a "wealthy, young man about town" with psychic powers. One of the most famous pulp heroes of the 20th century, the radio drama is well-remembered for those episodes voiced by Orson Welles.

Introduced as a mysterious radio narrator by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot for Street and Smith Publications, The Shadow was fully developed and transformed into a pop culture icon by pulp writer Walter B. Gibson.

The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour. After gaining popularity among the show's listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931, a pulp series created and primarily written by the prolific Gibson.
Over the years, the character evolved. On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama officially premiered with the story "The Deathhouse Rescue", in which the character had "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." This was a contrivance for the radio; in the magazine stories, The Shadow did not have the ability to become literally invisible.

The character and look of The Shadow gradually evolved over his lengthy fictional existence.

As depicted in the pulps, The Shadow wore a black slouch hat and a black, crimson-lined cloak with an upturned collar over a standard black business suit. In the 1940s comic books, the later comic book series, and the 1994 film starring Alec Baldwin, he wore either the black slouch hat or a wide-brimmed, black fedora and a crimson scarf just below his nose and across his mouth and chin. Both the cloak and scarf covered either a black doubled-breasted trench coat or regular black suit. As seen in some of the later comics series, the hat and scarf would also be worn with either a black Inverness coat or Inverness cape.

But in the radio drama, which debuted in 1937, The Shadow became an invisible avenger who had learned, while "traveling through East Asia," "the mysterious power to cloud men's minds, so they could not see him." This revision of the character was born out of necessity: Time constraints of 1930s radio made it difficult to explain to listeners where The Shadow was hiding and how he was remaining concealed. Thus, the character was given the power to escape human sight. Voice effects were added to suggest The Shadow's seeming omnipresence.

In order to explain this power, The Shadow was described as a master of hypnotism, as explicitly stated in several radio episodes.

Even after decades, the unmistakable introduction from The Shadow radio program, long-intoned by actor Frank Readick Jr., has earned a place in the American idiom: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Rouet d'Omphale ("Omphale's Spinning Wheel", composed in 1872). At the end of each episode, The Shadow reminded listeners, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay.... The Shadow knows!"

For more information regarding The Shadow on the radio, in pulp magazines, comic books, comic strips, television, video games, and motion pictures (including the 1994 feature film starring Alex Baldwin, see below.) check out the extensive Wikipedia page here.