Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Black Museum



The Black Museum was a 1951 radio crime-drama program independently produced by Harry Alan Towers and based on real-life cases from the files of Scotland Yard's Black Museum. Ira Marion was the scriptwriter, and music for the series was composed and conducted by Sidney Torch. Although often mistakenly cited as being produced for the BBC, the series was produced and syndicated
commercially by Towers throughout the English-speaking world.

 Orson Welles was both host and narrator for stories of horror and mystery, based on Scotland Yard's collection of murder weapons and various ordinary objects once associated with historical true crime cases. The show's opening began:

"This is Orson Welles, speaking from London."
(Sound of Big Ben chimes)
"The Black Museum... a repository of death. Here in the grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard is a warehouse of homicide, where everyday objects... a woman’s shoe, a tiny white box, a quilted robe... all are touched by murder."

Walking through the museum, Welles would pause at one of the exhibits, and his description of an artifact served as a device to lead into a wryly-narrated dramatised tale of a brutal murder or a vicious crime. In the closing:

"Now until we meet again in the same place and I tell you another tale of the Black Museum", Welles would conclude with his signature radio phrase, "I remain, as always, obediently yours".

With the story themes deriving from objects in the collection (usually with the names of the people involved changed but the facts remaining true to history), the 52 episodes had such titles as "The Tartan Scarf" and "A Piece of Iron Chain" or "Frosted Glass Shards" and "A Khaki Handkerchief". An anomaly to the series was an episode called "The Letter" as this was the only story not about murder, but about forgery.

In the United States, the series aired on the Mutual Network between January 1 and December 30, 1952.

Beginning May 7, 1953, it was also broadcast over Radio Luxembourg sponsored by the cleaning
products Dreft and Mirro. Since the BBC carried no commercials, Radio Luxembourg aired sponsored programs at night to England.

In the United States, there was a contemporary programme called Whitehall 1212 written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and broadcast by NBC, that was similar in scope to The Black Museum. It was hosted by Chief Superintendent John Davidson, curator of the Black Museum. It used many of the same picked cases as The Black Museum, and it nearly mirrored its broadcast run. The two shows


were different in the respect that while Whitehall 1212 told the story of a case entirely from the point of view of the police starting from the crime scene, The Black Museum was more heavily dramatized and played out scenes of the actual murders and included scenes from the criminal's point of view.



Trivia:

Two episodes, "The Car Tire" and "The Gas Receipt," were the same story with minor differences between the two. Another pair of episodes, "The Baby's Jacket" and "The Spectacles," were based on the same case, as were "The Tan Shoe" and "The Leather Bag."

Four famous murder cases were dramatized on The Black Museum: John George Haigh, the "Acid Bath Murderer"; George Joseph Smith, the "Brides in the Bath Murderer"; Adelaide Bartlett, whose husband died from chloroform poisoning; and Florence Maybrick, who allegedly used arsenic from fly-paper to murder her husband James Maybrick (who was recently suspected of being Jack the Ripper courtesy of the 1993 publication of The Diary of Jack the Ripper).

In "Open End Wrench" it's mistakenly stated that the culprit was executed in Dartmoor. No 20th century executions were carried out in Dartmoor. Built during the Napoleonic Wars to contain French and American POWs, it was, after lying idle from 1815 to 1850, later commissioned as a convict gaol and used for dangerous long-term prisoners only.

Perry Mason



Perry Mason is a radio crime serial based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner. Broadcast weekdays on CBS Radio from 1943 to 1955, the series was adapted into The Edge of Night which ran on television for an additional 30 years.

 The 15-minute continuing series Perry Mason aired weekdays October 18, 1943 – December 30, 1955, on CBS Radio. Geared more towards action than courtroom drama, it mixed mystery and soap opera, with attorney Perry Mason sometimes even exchanging gunfire with criminals.

Erle Stanley Gardner's literary success with the Perry Mason novels convinced Warner Bros. to try its hand, unsuccessfully, with some motion pictures. However, the Perry Mason radio show stayed on the air for 12 years.

As The Edge of Night, it ran for another 30 years on television, but Gardner disliked the proposed daytime television version due to a lack of his own creative control. He ultimately withheld his endorsement of the daytime TV show, forcing the name change.

The actors portraying Mason switched frequently over the first three years of the show's run, starting with Bartlett Robinson, then followed by Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs. John Larkin took over the starring role March 31, 1947, and portrayed Perry Mason until the end of the series.

Radio's Perry Mason has more in common, in all but name, with the daytime serial The Edge of Night than the subsequent prime-time Perry Mason television show. As many radio serials moved to television, so was to be the destiny of Perry Mason. However, Gardner disagreed with the direction of the new show and pulled his support. The sponsor, Procter & Gamble hired the writers and staff of the Perry Mason radio series, the show was retooled, and it became The Edge of Night. The characters and setting were renamed. Gardner eventually aligned himself with the nighttime courtroom drama.

The Edge of Night was conceived as the daytime-TV version of Perry Mason. Mason's creator, Erle
Stanley Gardner, was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and CBS caused Gardner to pull his support. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.

Two actors who played Perry Mason on radio, Bartlett Robinson and John Larkin, appeared in episodes of the CBS-TV series, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lights Out



Lights Out is an American old-time radio program devoted mostly to horror and the supernatural. Created by  Wyllis Cooper and then taken over by Arch Oboler, versions of Lights Out aired on different networks, at various times, from January 1934 to the summer of 1947 and the series eventually made the transition to television. Lights Out was one of the earliest radio horror programs, predating Suspense and Inner Sanctum.



The Wyllis Cooper era

In the fall of 1933, NBC writer Wyllis Cooper conceived the idea of "a midnight mystery serial to catch the attention of the listeners at the witching hour." The idea was to offer listeners a dramatic program late at night, at a time when the competition was mostly airing music. At some point, the serial concept was dropped in favor of an anthology format emphasizing crime thrillers and the supernatural. The first series of shows (each 15 minutes long) ran on a local NBC station, WENR, at midnight Wednesdays, starting in January 1934. By April, the series proved successful enough to expand to a half hour. In January 1935, the show was discontinued in order to ease Cooper's workload (he was then writing scripts for the network's prestigious Immortal Dramas program), but was brought back by huge popular demand a few weeks later. After a successful tryout in New York City, the series was picked up by NBC in April 1935 and broadcast nationally, usually late at night and always on Wednesdays. Cooper stayed on the program until June 1936, when another Chicago writer, Arch Oboler, took over. By the time Cooper left, the series had inspired about 600 fan clubs.

The Arch Oboler era

When Cooper departed, his replacement—a young, eccentric and ambitious Arch Oboler—picked up where he left off, often following Cooper's general example but investing the scripts with his own concerns. Oboler made imaginative use of stream-of-consciousness narration and sometimes introduced social and political themes that reflected his commitment to antifascist liberalism.

Although in later years Lights Out would be closely associated with Oboler, he was always quick to credit Cooper as the series' creator and spoke highly of the older author, calling him "the unsung pioneer of radio dramatic techniques" and the first person Oboler knew of who understood that radio drama could be an art form.

Like Cooper, Oboler was much in demand and highly prolific. While working on Lights Out, he wrote numerous dramatic sketches for variety shows (The Chase and Sanborn Hour, Rudy Vallee's programs), anthologies (Grand Hotel, The First Nighter Program, The Irene Rich Show) and specials. In August 1936, singer Vallee, then the dean of variety show hosts, claimed that Lights Out was his favorite series. Oboler occasionally redrafted his Lights Out scripts for use on Vallee's and other variety hours. A version of Oboler's "Prelude to Murder" starring Peter Lorre and Olivia de Havilland was scheduled to air on a November 1936 Vallee broadcast. Other Lights Out plays that turned up on various late 1930s variety programs included "Danse Macabre" (with Boris Karloff), "Alter Ego" (with Bette Davis) and "The Harp."

Oboler met the demand by adopting an unusual scripting procedure: He would lie in bed at night, smoke cigarettes, and improvise into a Dictaphone, acting out every line of the play. In this way, he was able to complete a script quickly, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes, though he might take as long as three or four hours. In the morning, a stenographer would type up the recording for Oboler's revisions. Years later, Rod Serling, who counted radio fantasists like Cooper, Oboler, and Norman Corwin among his inspirations, would use a similar process to churn out his many teleplays for The Twilight Zone, a series that in many respects was to television what Lights Out was to radio.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mystery Playhouse


Mystery Playhouse was an American radio drama hosted by Peter Lorre which aired on the American Forces Network from July 1944–June 1946.

The series aired during World War II specifically for the purposes of entertaining the troops serving during the war.


Mystery Playhouse was created by the American Forces Network in 1944 for the entertainment of the troops during World War II.

Every week, the series aired rebroadcast of episodes of many popular radio shows of the time. Some include rebroadcast of The Whistler, Mr. and Mrs. North, Inner Sanctum Mystery, and Nero Wolfe.

Peter Lorre's way of introducing each episode was noted as "...part plot summary, and part philosophical about the human condition".

These are two typical intros that a viewer could find when watching the series;

Host: "Two pairs of footsteps echoed down the alley. He stopped. Waited. Waited for Jack the Ripper to Strike! But this is not London in 1888. No, this is Chicago in 1945! Yet, Jack the Ripper is loose again to knife, to butcher his victims... without a trace!"

Host: "Hello... Creeps. This is Peter Lorre opening the doors to the Mystery Playhouse. If you recall, some 50 years ago, London was terrorized by a one man crime wave. A murderer, who was never captured and never seen. And tonight, we follow the investigations of Sir Guy Holless, who firmly believes that Jack the Ripper is still alive. That it is he that is the fiend, that once again slashes and kills! There is an element of the supernatural in this story, that will amaze you. For it seems that the spirit world has given the black heart of Jack the Ripper, the power of everlasting life!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Man Called X



The Man Called X is an espionage radio drama which aired on CBS and NBC from July 10, 1944 to May 20, 1952. Herbert Marshall had the lead role of agent Ken Thurston/"Mr. X" who took on dangerous cases in a variety of exotic locations. Gordon Jenkins Orchestra supplied the background music.

 Leon Belasco played Mr. X's comedic sidekick, Pegon Zellschmidt, who always turned up in remote parts of the world because he had a "cousin" there. Pegon would annoy and help Mr. X.

Wendell Niles was the announcer.

The series was created by Jay Richard Kennedy who later adapted The Man Called X as a 39 episode syndicated Television series (1956-57) starring Barry Sullivan as Thurston for Ziv Television.

Quiet, Please





Quiet, Please was a radio fantasy and horror program created by Wyllis Cooper, also known for creating Lights Out. Ernest Chappell was the show's announcer and lead actor. Quiet, Please debuted June 8, 1947 on the Mutual Broadcasting System, and its last episode was broadcast June 25, 1949, on the ABC network. A total of 106 shows were broadcast, with only a very few of them repeats.

 Earning relatively little notice during its initial run, Quiet, Please has since been praised as one of the finest efforts of the golden age of American radio drama.


Quiet, Please was produced at WOR in New York City, and began on the Mutual Network on June 8, 1947. Beginning in September, 1948, it was syndicated by ABC, though CBS executive Davidson Taylor expressed an interest in the show, writing in a memo in March 1948,


 Each episode began with Chappell intoning the show's title, followed by a long pauseCésar Franck's 1899 Symphony in D Minor. The introduction established the sparse, understated tone of the show, and has inspired collectors and reviewers to remark upon Cooper's use of the dramatic power of silence.
(sometimes up to seven seconds), before repeating the title. Then, the show's theme music was played, a dirgey, funereal organ and piano version of a portion of the second movement of


Though the general thrust of the stories were fantasy, horror and suspense, Quiet, Please scripts covered a broad thematic range, including romance, science fiction, crime, family drama and humor (some of it quite self-deprecating).


"The Thing on the Fourble Board"


Probably the most highly regarded episode of Quiet, Please is "The Thing on the Fourble Board" (August 9, 1948), about an oil-field worker who encounters a mysterious subterranean being hiding on the derrick's catwalk. The unusual title is a bit of oil worker argot: the "fourble board" of an oil derrick is a narrow catwalk that is as high up as four lengths of drilling pipe placed vertically (two lengths of pipe are a "double", three are a "thribble" and four are a "fourble.")

 The story effectivness has led some fans to label the episode one of the best radio horror programs ever broadcast. Richard J. Hand of the University of Glamorgan notes that "The Thing on the Fourble Board" is not only cited as the finest example of radio horror, but occasionally cited as one of best examples of radio drama as a whole. Especially effective was Cecil Roy's vocal performance as the creature. Though she performs only very briefly, Roy's vocal (barely recognizable as human) was cited as still startling and chill-inducing even after decades.

Monday, April 17, 2017

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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Night Beat



Night Beat was a radio drama series that aired on NBC from February 6, 1950 until September 25, 1952, sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Wheaties.

Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy (originally "Lucky") Stone, a reporter who covered the night beat for the Chicago Star, encountering criminals and troubled souls. Listeners were invited to join Stone as he "searches through the city for the strange stories waiting for him in the darkness." Ripperologist editor Paul Begg offered this description of the series:
Broadcast on NBC, Nightbeat... starred Frank Lovejoy as Randy Stone, a tough and streetwise reporter who worked the nightbeat for the Chicago Star, looking for human interest stories. He met an assortment of people, most of them with a problem, many of them scared, and sometimes he was able to help them, sometimes he wasn’t. It is generally regarded as a "quality" show, and it stands up extremely well. Frank Lovejoy (1914-1962) isn’t remembered today, but he was a powerful and believable actor with a strong delivery, and his portrayal of Randy Stone as tough guy with humanity was perfect. The scripts were excellent, given that they had to cover much in a short time. There was a good supporting cast, orchestra and sound effects. "The Slasher," broadcast on 10 November 1950, the last show of season one, has a very loosely Ripper-derived plot in which Stone searches for an artist.
Supporting actors included Joan Banks, Parley Baer, William Conrad, Jeff Corey, Lawrence Dobkin, Paul Frees, Jack Kruschen, Peter Leeds, Howard McNear, Lurene Tuttle, Martha Wentworth and Ben Wright. The format was recreated, with Lovejoy as Stone, on an episode of the television anthology series, Four Star Playhouse ("Search in the Night" 5 November 1953).

Monday, March 13, 2017

Duffy's Tavern




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

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






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

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

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

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


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Alan Young Show




The Alan Young Show is an American radio and television series presented in diverse formats over a nine-year period and starring Canadian-English actor Alan Young, of later Mister Ed fame.

The series began on NBC Radio as a summer replacement situation comedy in 1944, featuring vocalist Bea Wain. It then moved to ABC Radio with Jean Gillespie portraying Young's girlfriend Betty. The program was next broadcast by NBC for a 1946-47 run and was off in 1948. When it returned to NBC in 1949, Louise Erickson played Betty and Jim Backus was heard as snobbish playboy Hubert Updike III.

In 1950 The Alan Young Show moved to CBS television as a variety, sketch comedy show, taking an 11-month hiatus in 1952. When it returned for its final season in 1953, the tone and format of the show changed into the more conventional sitcom, with Young playing a bank teller with Dawn Addams (pictured) cast as his girlfriend and Melville Faber portraying his son. The show alternated weeks with Ken Murray's The Ken Murray Show under the title Time to Smile.

In the last two weeks of the season, the format returned to its earlier style, but it was cancelled at the end of the season. The Alan Young Show received two Emmy Awards during its run.




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nero Wolfe

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective, created in 1934 by the American mystery writer Rex Stout. Wolfe's confidential assistant Archie Goodwin narrates the cases of the detective genius. Stout wrote 33 novels and 39 short stories from 1934 to 1974, with most of them set in New York City. Wolfe's residence, a luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street, features prominently in the series. Many radio, television and film adaptations were made from his works.
The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated for Best Mystery Series of the Century at Bouchercon 2000, the world's largest mystery convention, and Rex Stout was a nominee for Best Mystery Writer of the Century.

Nero Wolfe made his way to radio in 1943 in The Adventures of Nero Wolfe for ABC. Three actors portrayed Nero Wolfe over the course of the series. J.B. Williams starred in its first incarnation, broadcast Wednesdays on the New England Network (April 7–June 30, 1943). Santos Ortega assumed the role when the suspense drama moved to ABC on Mondays (July 5–September 27, 1943) and Fridays (January 21–July 14, 1944). Luis Van Rooten succeeded Ortega in 1944, Nero Wolfe's last year on ABC.

"Santos Ortega played Wolfe," wrote John McAleer in Rex Stout: A Biography. "John Gibson was Archie. Gibson was breezy and Ortega wheezy — indeed, he opened the program with a wheeze, as his signature... Rex thought the actors were creditable but winced at the plots. He never listened to the broadcasts... Louis Vittes was the chief scriptwriter and wrote most of the scripts. None of Rex's story material was used. All characters beside Wolfe, Archie and Cramer were ABC's own. For the use of Wolfe and Archie, Rex received a weekly royalty.
"Differences between (ABC producer) Hi Brown and Edwin Fadiman, who represented Rex's radio, screen and television interests, as Nero Wolfe Attractions, Inc., prevented its later resumption on ABC," McAleer reported. "This fact Brown regretted. 'Nero Wolfe,' Brown says, 'is one of the strongest and most successful detective characters in all of fiction.'"

"The series next surfaced early in 1946, on Sundays, on the Mutual Network," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer, "with Francis X. Bushman, one-time movie idol, as Wolfe, and Elliott Lewis as Archie. ... The scripts once again were network originals. The humor verged on slapstick." The concluding show in the series, "The Case of the Shakespeare Folio," aired December 15, 1946.

1950 -- 1951 Series: "THE NEW ADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE" (25 episodes)
NETWORK: NBC, SPONSOR: SUSTAINED, TIME: Fridays: 8:00 - 8:30 pm
STARS: Sidney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe. Archie played by various actors
WRITER: Louis Vittes based on the stories by Rex Stout; ANNOUNCER: Don Stanley; PRODUCER: Edwin Fadiman; DIRECTOR: J. Donald Wilson.
1982, 60 minutes
Mavor Moore and Don Francks
in the CBC Radio drama series Nero Wolfe.

In 1982, Canadian actor, producer, writer and cultural pioneer Mavor Moore (1919–2006) starred as Nero Wolfe in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 13-episode radio series Nero Wolfe (a.k.a. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe). Don Francks portrayed Archie Goodwin, and Cec Linder played Inspector Cramer.

Sources: Nero Wolfe Wikipedia and Nero Wolfe(radio) via Wikipedia

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Academy Award


 Academy Award was a CBS radio anthology series which presented 30-minute adaptations of plays, novels or films.

Rather than adaptations of Oscar-winning films, as the title implied, the series offered "Hollywood's finest, the great picture plays, the great actors and actresses, techniques and skills, chosen from the honor roll of those who have won or been nominated for the famous golden Oscar of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

With that as a guideline, any drama could be presented as long as the cast included at least one Oscar-nominated performer. For example, Robert Nathan's 1940 novel Portrait of Jennie was not released as a film until 1949. David O. Selznick, having acquired the rights to Nathan's novel in 1944, was spending much time and money in his efforts to bring it to the screen. Thus, Academy Award's December 4, 1946 adaptation of Portrait of Jennie, with John Lund and Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine, had a promotional aspect, concluding with host/announcer Hugh Brundage revealing, "Portrait of Jennie is soon to be a Selznick International picture starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten."

The program initially aired on Saturdays at 7pm(et) through June, then moved to Wednesdays at 10pm(et). Frank Wilson scripted the 30-minute adaptations for producer-director Dee Englebach, and Leith Stevens provided the music. The sound effects crew included Gene Twombly, Jay Roth, Clark Casey and Berne Surrey.

The series began March 30, 1946, with Bette Davis, Anne Revere and Fay Bainter in Jezebel. On that first show, Jean Hersholt spoke as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, welcoming the E.R. Squibb & Sons pharmaceutical company {"The House Of Squibb"} as the program's sponsor. It was an expensive show to produce since the stars cost $4000 a week, and another $1600 went each week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the use of their name in the show's title. This eventually became a factor in Squibb's decision to cancel the series after only 39 weeks.

Dramas in which actors recreated their original film roles included Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, Cary Grant in Suspicion, Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom and Ronald Colman in Lost Horizon. However, of the 39 episodes, only six actors recreated their own Oscar-winning roles: Fay Bainter, Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Victor McLaglen, Paul Muni and Ginger Rogers.


The series ended December 18, 1946, with Margaret O'Brien and one of the series' frequent supporting players, Jeff Chandler (appearing under his real name, Ira Grossel) in Lost Angel.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Man Called X



The Man Called X is an espionage radio drama which aired on CBS and NBC from July 10, 1944 to May 20, 1952. Herbert Marshall had the lead role of agent Ken Thurston/"Mr. X" who took on dangerous cases in a variety of exotic locations. Gordon Jenkins Orchestra supplied the background music.

 Leon Belasco played Mr. X's comedic sidekick, Pegon Zellschmidt, who always turned up in remote parts of the world because he had a "cousin" there. Pegon would annoy and help Mr. X.

Wendell Niles was the announcer.

The series was created by Jay Richard Kennedy who later adapted The Man Called X as a 39 episode syndicated Television series (1956-57) starring Barry Sullivan as Thurston for Ziv Television.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lux Radio Theater

Lux Radio Theater, a long-run classic radio anthology series, was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network (1934-35); CBS (1935-54) and NBC (1954-55). Initially, the series adapted Broadway plays during its first two seasons before it began adapting films. These hour-long radio programs were performed live before studio audiences. It became the most popular dramatic anthology series on radio, broadcast for more than 20 years and continued on television as the Lux Video Theatre through most of the 1950s.

Broadcasting from New York, the series premiered at 2:30pm, October 14, 1934, on the NBC Blue Network with a production of Seventh Heaven starring Miriam Hopkins and John Boles in a full-hour adaptation of the 1922–24 Broadway production by Austin Strong. 

Lux Radio Theater strove to feature as many of the original stars of the original stage and film productions as possible, usually paying them $5,000 an appearance. In 1936, when sponsor Lever Brothers (who made Lux soap and detergent) moved the show from New York City to Hollywood, the program began to emphasize adaptations of films rather than plays. The first Lux film adaptation was The Legionnaire and the Lady, with Marlene Dietrich and Clark Gable, based on the film Morocco. That was followed by a Lux adaptation of The Thin Man, featuring the movie's stars, Myrna Loy and William Powell. Many of leading names in stage and film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen.

 During its years on CBS in Hollywood, Lux Radio Theater was broadcast from the Lux Radio Playhouse located at 1615 North Vine Street in Hollywood, one block south of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The theater was owned by Howard Hughes in the early 1930's then later renamed the Huntington Hartford Theater when purchased in 1954 by philanthropist Huntington Hartford, the Doolittle Theater and is now the Ricardo Montalban Theater.

 The Lux Video Theatre began as a live 30-minute Monday evening CBS series October 2, 1950, switching to Thursday nights during August 1951. In September 1953, the show relocated from New York to Hollywood. In August 1954, it jumped to NBC as an hour-long show on Thursday nights, telecast until September 12, 1957.


1936 Programs



1937 Programs


1938 Programs


And even more available at this link - https://archive.org/details/Lux01

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Lone Ranger


The Lone Ranger is a fictional masked Texas Ranger who, with his Native American companion Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The character has become an enduring icon of American culture.

He first appeared in 1933 in a radio show conceived either by WXYZ radio station owner George W. Trendle or by Fran Striker, the show's writer. The show proved to be a huge hit, and spawned an equally popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957, as well as comic books and movies. The title character was played on radio by George Seaton, Earle Graser, and Brace Beemer. To television viewers, Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. Tonto was played by, among others, John Todd, Roland Parker, and in the television series, Jay Silverheels.

Departing on his white stallion, Silver, the Lone Ranger would shout, "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!" As they galloped off, someone would ask, "Who was that masked man anyway?" Tonto usually referred to the Lone Ranger as "Ke-mo sah-bee", meaning "trusty scout" or "trusted friend." These catchphrases, his trademark silver bullets, and the theme music from the William Tell overture are indelibly stamped in the memories of millions who came of age during the decades of the show's initial popularity or viewed the television series.

While details differ, the basic story of the origin of the Lone Ranger is the same in most versions of the franchise. Six Texas Rangers are ambushed by a band of outlaws led by Barthalamo "Butch" Cavendish. Later, a Native American named Tonto stumbles on the scene and recognizes the lone survivor, John Francis Reid, as the man who had saved his life some time in the past. He nurses Reid back to health. The two men dig six graves for Reid's comrades, among them Reid's brother, Captain Daniel Steven Reid who is the Captain of the Texas Rangers. John Reid fashions a black mask using material from his brother's vest to conceal his identity, so that Cavendish will think there were no survivors. Even after the Cavendish gang is brought to justice, Reid continues to fight evil under the guise of the Lone Ranger.

In every incarnation of the character to date, the Lone Ranger conducts himself by a strict moral code put in place by Striker at the inception of the character. Actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels both took their positions as role models to children very seriously and tried their best to live by this creed. It reads as follows:
I believe...
that to have a friend, a man must be one.
that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
that God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
that a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
that 'this government of the people, by the people, and for the people' shall live always.
that men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
that sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.



The Lone Ranger was a TV show that aired for eight seasons, from 1949 to 1957, and starred Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Only five of the eight seasons had new episodes. It was the ABC television network's first big hit of the early 1950s. Moore's tenure as the Ranger is probably the best-known treatment of the franchise. For the show's third season, Moore sat out due to a contract dispute and was replaced by John Hart. Moore returned for the final two seasons. The fifth and final season was the only one shot in color. A total of 221 episodes were made.

In 1948, Western Publishing, with its publishing partner Dell Comics, launched a comic book series which lasted 145 issues. This originally consisted of reprints from the newspaper strips (as had all previous comic book appearances of the character in various titles from David McKay Publications and from Dell). However, new stories by writer Paul S. Newman and artist Tom Gill began with issue #38 (August 1951). Some original content was presented as early as #7 (January 1949), but these were non-Lone Ranger fillers. Newman and Gill produced the series until its the final issue, #145 (July 1962). The Dell series came to an end in 1962. Later that same year, Western Publishing ended its publishing partnership with Dell Comics and started up its own comic book imprint, Gold Key Comics. The new imprint launched its own Lone Ranger title in 1964. Initially reprinting material from the Dell run, original content did not begin until issue #22 in 1975, and the magazine itself folded with #28 in 1977.

The Lone Ranger has also seen incarnations on the silver screen, most recently in the 1981 box-office failure, The Legend of the Lone Ranger starring Klinton Spilsbury.

Walt Disney Pictures announced in September 2008 that Johnny Depp would be portraying Tonto in the latest adaptation entitled 'The Lone Ranger' with a projected release date of May 31st, 2013.

Sources: Wikipedia, Archive.org, and Comics.org

Episodes of the Lone Ranger television show can be viewed on Hulu.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fibber McGee and Molly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: http://www.fibbermcgeeandmolly.com/ and Fibber McGee and Molly on Wikipedia


Monday, January 9, 2017

The Saint



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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show




Edgar John Bergen (February 16, 1903 – September 30, 1978) was an American actor, comedian and radio performer, best known for his proficiency in ventriloquism and his characters Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. He is also the father of actress Candice Bergen.

Bergen was born Edgar John Berggren in Chicago, Illinois, one of five children and the youngest of two sons of Swedish immigrants Nilla Svensdotter (née Osberg) and Johan Henriksson Berggren. He lived on a farm near Decatur, Michigan until he was 4 when his family returned to Sweden where he learned the language. He taught himself ventriloquism from a pamphlet called "The Wizard's Manual" when he was 11 after his family returned to Chicago.

The famous ventriloquist Harry Lester was so impressed by Edgar that he gave the teenager almost daily lessons for three months in the fundamentals of ventriloquism. In the fall of 1919, Edgar paid Chicago woodcarver Theodore Mack $36 to sculpt a likeness of a rascally red-headed Irish newspaperboy he knew. The head went on a dummy named Charlie McCarthy, which became Bergen's lifelong sidekick. He had created the body himself, using a nine-inch length of broomstick for the backbone, and rubber bands and cords to control the lower jaw mechanism of the mouth.

He gave his first public performance at Waveland Avenue Congregational Church located on the northeast corner of Waveland and Janssen. He lived across the street from the church. In 1965, he gave the church a generous contribution, a thoughtful letter, and a photograph of himself which had been requested by the minister and was displayed in the church's assembly room which was dedicated to Bergen. He cut out an "R" and a "G" from his family name and went from Berggren to Bergen on the showbills. Between June 1922 and August 1925, he performed every summer on the professional Chautauqua circuit and at the Lyceum theater in Chicago.

His first performances were in vaudeville, at which point he legally changed his last name to the easier-to-pronounce "Bergen". He worked in one-reel movie shorts, but his real success was on the radio. He and Charlie were seen at a New York party by Elsa Maxwell for Noël Coward, who recommended them for an engagement at the famous Rainbow Room. It was there that two producers saw Bergen and Charlie perform. They then recommended them for a guest appearance on Rudy Vallée's program. Their initial appearance (December 17, 1936) was so successful that the following year they were given their own show, as part of The Chase and Sanborn Hour. Under various sponsors (and two different networks), they were on the air from May 9, 1937 to July 1, 1956. The popularity of a ventriloquist on radio, when one could see neither the dummies nor his skill, surprised and puzzled many critics, then and now. Even knowing that Bergen provided the voice, listeners perceived Charlie as a genuine person, but only through artwork rather than photos could the character be seen as truly lifelike. Thus, in 1947, Sam Berman caricatured Bergen and McCarthy for the network's glossy promotional book, NBC Parade of Stars: As Heard Over Your Favorite NBC Station.

For the radio program, Bergen developed other characters, notably the slow-witted Mortimer Snerd and the man-hungry Effie Klinker. The star remained Charlie, who was always presented as a highly precocious child (albeit in top hat, cape, and monocle)—a debonair, girl-crazy, child-about-town. As a child, and a wooden one at that, Charlie could get away with double entendres which were otherwise impossible under broadcast standards of the time.

In October 1949, Bergen went to CBS, with a new weekly program, The Charlie McCarthy Show, sponsored by Coca-Cola. After their sponsorship ended in June 1952, Richard Hudnut, on behalf of "Lanolin Plus" cosmetics, primarily sustained the series until the end of the 1953–54 season. In October 1954, Kraft Foods sponsored a new Edgar Bergen Hour. After Kraft's departure, the series continued with participating sponsors as a 55 minute series in the fall of 1955. However, because more people were watching television on Sunday nights than listened to radio (and advertisers preferred to sponsor TV shows by then), the series finally ended on July 1, 1956.

Today, the iconic wooden Charlie McCarthy rests in Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution. Bergen was interred with his parents (who are buried under their true surname of "Berggren"), in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California. Edgar Bergen's wife of 33 years, Frances Westerman Bergen, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, on October 2, 2006, aged 84, from undisclosed causes. She is also buried in Inglewood Cemetery. In 1990, Bergen was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame, the same year that The Charlie McCarthy Show was selected as an honored program. A message in the closing credits dedicates The Muppet Movie (which featured Edgar and Charlie in their last screen appearance) to the memory and magic of Edgar. In 1991, the United States Postal Service honored him with a 29-cent commemorative stamp.

http://www.charliemccarthy.org/

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

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.