Friday, August 11, 2017

X-Minus One


X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio drama series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 in various timeslots on NBC.

 Initially a revival of NBC's Dimension X (1950–51), the first 15 episodes of X Minus One were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, including Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories by leading writers in the field, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Theodore Sturgeon, along with some original scripts by Kinoy and Lefferts.

Included in the series were adaptations of Robert Sheckley's "Skulking Permit," Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven", Heinlein's "Universe" and "The Green Hills of Earth", " Pohl’s "The Tunnel under the World", J. T. McIntosh’s "Hallucination Orbit", Fritz Leiber’s "A Pail of Air", and George Lefferts' "The Parade".

The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into the following introduction (although later shows were partnered with Galaxy Science Fiction rather than Astounding Science Fiction):
Countdown for blastoff... X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one... Fire! [Rocket launch SFX] From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents... X Minus One. 
The series was canceled after the 126th broadcast on January 9, 1958.

However, the early 1970s brought a wave of nostalgia for old-time radio; a new experimental episode, "The Iron Chancellor" by Robert Silverberg, was produced in 1973, but it failed to revive the series. NBC also tried broadcasting the old recordings, but their irregular once-monthly scheduling kept even devoted listeners from following the broadcasts.

The Avenger

The Avenger is a fictional character whose original adventures appeared between September 1939 and September 1942 in the pulp magazine The Avenger, published by Street and Smith Publications. Five additional short stories were published in Clues Detective magazine (1942–1943), and a sixth novelette in The Shadow magazine in 1943. Newly-written adventures were commissioned and published by Warner Brother's Paperback Library from 1973 to 1974. The Avenger was a pulp hero who combined elements of Doc Savage and The Shadow though he was never as popular as either of these characters. The authorship of the pulp series was credited by Street and Smith to Kenneth Robeson, the same byline that appeared on the Doc Savage stories. The "Kenneth Robeson" name was a house pseudonym used by a number of different Street & Smith writers. Most of the original Avenger stories were written by Paul Ernst.

In 1941 Walter Gibson turned The Avenger into a radio series that lasted 26 episodes. His origin and powers were so radically altered that this Avenger should probably be considered a brand new character. In the radio version The Avenger is biochemist Jim Brandon, who secretly fights crime using his inventions, a "Telepathic Indicator" which allows him to pick up thought flashes, and a "Diffusion Capsule" which provides a black light of invisibility. He is assisted by Fern Collier, the only person he trusts with his secret identity. per The Avenger page at International Catalog of Superheroes.

 For a more in depth look at The Avenger, check out the extensive Wikipedia page.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Bold Venture


Bold Venture was a syndicated radio series starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall that aired from 1951 to 1952. Morton Fine and David Friedkin scripted the taped series for Bogart's Santana Productions.

 Beginning in March of 1951, the Frederic W. Ziv Company syndicated 78 episodes via electrical transcription. Some sources have claimed that the 78 episodes include reruns, and that there were only around 30 episodes but more than 50 shows have now come to light. Heard on 423 stations, the 30-minute series earned $4000 weekly for Bogart and Bacall.

57 episodes are now known to exist, some are known by more than one title which can make it appear that there are more.

Synopsis:

Salty seadog Slate Shannon (Bogart) owns a Cuban hotel sheltering an assortment of treasure hunters, revolutionaries and other shady characters. With his sidekick and ward, the sultry Sailor Duval (Bacall), tagging along, he encounters modern-day pirates and other tough situations while navigating the waters around Havana. Aboard his boat, the Bold Venture, Slate and Sailor experience "adventure, intrigue, mystery and romance in the sultry settings of tropical Havana and the mysterious islands of the Caribbean."

Calypso singer King Moses (Jester Hairston) provided musical bridges by threading plot situations into the lyrics of his songs. Music for the series was by David Rose.

The series combined elements of a number of past Bogart/Bacall film collaborations, most notably To Have and Have Not which also cast Bogart as a boat owner in the Caribbean who reluctantly becomes involved in intrigue while romancing Bacall. The relationship between Shannon and King Moses, and his ownership of an inn, is strongly reminiscent of the dynamic between Rick Blaine and Sam in Casablanca.

Ziv brought Bold Venture to television in 1959 with 39 episodes directed by William Conrad. The series starred Dane Clark as Slate Shannon, Joan Marshall as Sailor Duval and Bernie Gozier as King Moses. However, because of unstable conditions in Cuba, the setting was changed to Trinidad. Locations included the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, California.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mel Blanc 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.

Below is a large collection of episodes of The Mel Blanc Show courtesy of Archive.org.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, August 1, 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 most memorably 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.

Enjoy this large assortment of episodes of The Lone Ranger radio program via Archive.org