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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rocky Fortune (OTRR Certified)

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In the days prior to From Here To Eternity, Frank Sinatra's popularity was waning and this private eye show was an attempt to remedy that. In it, Frank played Rocky Fortune, a "footloose and fancy-free young man," frequently unemployed, who took numerous, adventurous odd jobs. It was a relatively undistinguished series; definitely a "B grade" radio series, saved by Sinatra's charm and a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Rocky Fortune appeared on NBC for only a short run of 25 or 26 shows. The lead character, who goes by the name of Rocky Fortune but whose real name is Rocko Fortunato, was played by Frank Sinatra. Rocky, always ready with a wise remark, seems to be a magnet for trouble, most often with the variety of odd jobs he takes. There is frequently a beautiful woman involved, some good girls, some bad. Rocky's a tough guy who stays just inside of the law but we get an occasional glimpse of a soft heart beneath the hard exterior. It's a character that Mr. Sinatra plays nicely.

Employed or not, Rocky possesed a variety of skills. During the course of the series, he worked as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny. He could also fake enough bass to play at weddings and bar-mitzvahs. For most of the series, Rocky received his job assignments from the Gridley Employment Agency, usually referred to as just "the agency".

The only recurring character, throughout the series, besides Rocky himself, is the long-suffering Sergeant Hamilton J. Finger - a solid, although not-too-bright cop who works out of what is frequently referred to as "the Irish clubhouse," who seemed to be constantly running into Rocky, whether he wanted to or not.

At about the same time, November 10, 1953 to July 9, 1954, Sinatra also starred in a musical show on NBC called To Be Perfectly Frank. And, no matter how you look at it, Rocky Fortune was really just another chance for the ever-ambitious Sinatra to be himself, and to promote his career. "From Here To Eternity" had opened that August, and Sinatra used the series to promote the film (and his Oscar nomination). As the series wound to a close and the date of the Academy Awards presentation drew near, it became a running gag that Rocky seemed to work the phrase "from here to eternity" into almost every show.

Fortunately for his career, his Oscar for his role in Eternity came and rescued him from all this.

Most scripts were written by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, who also wrote Dimension X and X Minus One scripts. (Frequently, the same music bridges can be heard for X Minus One in early espisodes of this series.) Fred Weihe and Andrew Love directed.

Rocky Fortune
(1953-54, NBC)
26 weeks, 25 episodes
First broadcast: October 6, 1953
Last broadcast: March 30, 1954
Writers: George Lefferts, Norm Sickel, Robert Senadella (story), Ernest Kinoy, Doc Sanford
Directors: Andrew C. Love, Fred Weihe, Howard Wiley
Announcer: Eddie King
Starring Frank Sinatra as Rocky Fortune
(OTRR)



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References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group

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