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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mr and Mrs North

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Mr. and Mrs. North are fictional American amateur detectives created by Frances and Richard Lockridge. The couple were featured in a series of 26 Mr. and Mrs. North novels, a Broadway play, a motion picture and several radio and television series.

The Mr. and Mrs. North radio mystery series aired on CBS from 1942 to 1954. Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin had the title roles when the series began in 1942. Publisher Jerry North and his wife Pam lived in Greenwich Village at 24 St. Anne's Flat. They were not professional detectives but simply an ordinary couple who stumbled across a murder or two every week for 12 years. The radio program eventually reached nearly 20 million listeners.

In 1946, Mr. and Mrs. North received the first Best Radio Drama Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America (in a tie with CBS's Ellery Queen). The CBS Radio program, which was broadcast once in 1941 and continuously from 1942 to 1955, featured Carl Eastman (1941), Joseph Curtin (1942-54) and Richard Denning (1954-55) as Jerry North. Pam North was played by Peggy Conklin (1941), Alice Frost (1942-54) and Barbara Britton (1954-55).






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Sunday, August 23, 2009

General Mills Radio Adventure Theater

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The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater was a 1977 anthology radio drama series with Tom Bosley as host. Himan Brown, already producing the CBS Radio Mystery Theater for the network, added this twice-weekly (Saturdays and Sundays) anthology radio drama series to his workload in 1977. It usually aired on weekends, beginning in February 1977 and continuing through the end of January 1978, on stations which cleared it.

General Mills's advertising agency was looking for a means of reaching children that would be less expensive than television advertising. Brown and CBS were willing to experiment with a series aimed at younger listeners, reaching that audience through ads in comic books. Apart from Christian or other religious broadcasting, this may have been the only nationwide attempt in the U.S. in the 1970s to air such a series. General Mills did not continue as sponsor after the 52 episodes had first aired over the first 26 weekends (February 1977 through July 1977), and the series (52 shows) was then repeated over the next 26 weekends (August 1977 through the end of January 1978), as The CBS Radio Adventure Theater, with a variety of sponsors for the commercials.


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    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Ethel and Albert

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    Ethel and Albert (aka The Private Lives of Ethel and Albert) was a radio and television comedy series about a married couple, Ethel and Albert Arbuckle, living in the small town of Sandy Harbor was created by Peg. She scripted and portrayed Ethel, the series first aired on Minnesota radio on April 17, 1944 as a 15-minute daily show. It continued as such until 1949 when it was expanded to a half hour. The show moved to television in 1950 as a 10-minute segment on the Kate Smith Hour, and in April 1953, Ethel and Albert became a half hour program on the NBC network.

    NBC canceled the show in December 1954, but it found new life when it was picked up by CBS as a 1955 summer replacement show. In the fall of 1955, the show shifted networks yet again, this time to ABC where it stayed until May 1956.

    Yet, the show did not die, it continued on CBS Radio in 1957, with the title changed to The Couple Next Door. Peg and Alan Bunce were still in the title roles and Peg was still the show's writer. The Couple Next Door lasted for 3 years as a 15-minute program, ending in 1960.

    Ethel and Albert was back in 1963-1964 on NBC's "Monitor" and on National Public Radio's Earplay in 1973.





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    Couple Next Door, The

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    The Couple Next Door was a Peg Lynch series which began in 1953-57 on Chicago's WGN, moving to the Mutual Broadcasting System in the summer of 1957. The married couple was played by Olan Soule and Elinor Harriot. It was revived on CBS Radio (December 30, 1957-November 25, 1960) with Peg Lynch and Alan Bunce as the unnamed married couple---essentially, it reprised Ethel and Albert but the new name was necessitated because Lynch had long since lost the rights to the original title. That still wasn't the end of the show---Lynch and Bunce brought the show to NBC's legendary weekend programming block Monitor in 1963, performing three- to four-minute vignettes not unlike the original fifteen-minute shows. Their presence continued a kind-of Monitor tradition of offering new material from classic radio favourites (including James and Marian Jordan of Fibber McGee and Molly fame, until Marian Jordan's death). Even more, it returned yet again in the 1970s, as a syndicated radio feature known as The Little Things in Life.









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    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Screen Director's Playhouse

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    Screen Director's Playhouse is a popular radio anthology series which brought leading Hollywood actors to the NBC microphones beginning in 1949. The radio program broadcast adaptations of films, and original directors of the films were sometimes involved in the productions, although their participation was usually limited to introducing the radio adaptations, and a brief "curtain call" with the cast and host at the end of the program. The series later had a brief run on television.

    The radio version ran for 122 episodes and aired on NBC from January 9, 1949 to September 28, 1951 under several different titles: NBC Theater, Screen Director's Guild Assignment, Screen Director's Assignment and, as of July 1, 1949, Screen Director's Playhouse.

    Actors on the radio series included Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Charles Boyer, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Kirk Douglas, Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, James Mason, Gregory Peck, William Powell, Edward G. Robinson, Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, John Wayne, and Loretta Young.

    The television version was broadcast for one season of 35 half hour episodes on NBC, airing from October 5, 1955 to September 12, 1956.











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    My Favorite Husband

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    My Favorite Husband began as a radio sitcom on CBS Radio, with Lucille Ball and Richard Denning as Liz and George Cooper (Cugat in a very few early episodes, until bandleader Xavier Cugat was said to be edgy about the radio couple sharing the name). The couple lived at 321 Bundy Drive in the fictitious city of Sheridan Falls, and were billed as "two people who live together and like it." The main sponsor was Jell-O, and an average of three "plugs" for Jell-O were made in each episode, including Lucille Ball's usual sign-on, "Jell-O, everybody!" It would start as:(1948 radio version)

    The program initially portrayed the couple as being a well-to-do banker and his socially prominent wife, but three new writers — Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer — took over the writing, changed the couple's name to Cooper, and remade them into a middle-class couple, believing average listeners would find them more accessible.

    Lucille Ball was asked to do a television version of the show (with Jell-O remaining as sponsor) and CBS insisted on Richard Denning continuing as her co-star, but Ball refused to do a husband-and-wife television show without real-life husband Desi Arnaz playing her on-screen husband. The network reluctantly agreed, reworking the concept into I Love Lucy after Ball and Arnaz took a show on the road to convince the network audiences would respond. But Jell-O dropped out of the show in favor of Philip Morris for television.

    Carroll, Pugh, and Oppenheimer agreed to do the switch to I Love Lucy. They subsequently reworked a few My Favorite Husband episodes into I Love Lucy episodes, especially early in the TV show's run. For example, the 1948 radio episode entitled "Giveaway Program" inspired the I Love Lucy episode called "Redecorating," with some lines being exactly the same. Many of the actors who had done My Favorite Husband radio show also appeared on I Love Lucy, sometimes in episodes where they reprised their roles using a reworked Husband script.




     


    Here is a cartoon made from an Old Time Radio episode of  My Favorite Husband from Christmas 1949. Really very well done. 




    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Escape

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    Escape was radio's leading anthology series of high adventure, airing on CBS from July 7, 1947 to September 25, 1954. Since the program did not have a regular sponsor like Suspense, it was subjected to frequent schedule shifts and lower production budgets, although Richfield Oil signed on as a sponsor for five months in 1950.

    Despite these problems, Escape enthralled many listeners during its seven-year run. The series' well-remembered opening combined Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain with this introduction, as intoned by Paul Frees and William Conrad:

    “Tired of the everyday routine? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all? We offer you... Escape!”

    Of the more than 230 Escape episodes, most have survived in good condition. Many story premises, both originals and adaptations, involved a protagonist in dire life-or-death straits, and the series featured more science fiction and supernatural tales than Suspense. Some of the memorable adaptations include Carl Stephenson's "Leiningen vs. the Ants", Algernon Blackwood's "Confession", Ray Bradbury's oft-reprinted "Mars Is Heaven," George R. Stewart's Earth Abides, Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz".

    John Collier's "Evening Primrose," about people who live inside a department store, was later adapted to TV as a Stephen Sondheim musical starring Anthony Perkins. Vincent Price, Harry Bartell and Jeff Corey were heard in the chilling "Three Skeleton Key" (broadcast on 17 March 1950), the tale of three men trapped in an isolated lighthouse by thousands of rats; the half-hour was adapted from an Esquire short story by the French writer George Toudouze and later remade for the 9 August 1953 broadcast starring William Conrad, Ben Wright and Jay Novello.

    Actors on the series included Elvia Allman, Eleanor Audley, Parley Baer, Michael Ann Barrett, Tony Barrett, Harry Bartell, Ted Bliss, Lillian Buyeff, Ken Christy, William Conrad, Ted deCorsia, John Dehner, Don Diamond, Paul Dubov, Sam Edwards, Virginia Gregg, Lou Merrill, Howard McNear, Jess Kirkpatrick, B.J. Thompson, Shep Menken, Frank Gerstle, George Neece, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Herlihy, Barney Phillips, Forrest Lewis, Robert Griffin, Alan Reed, Bill Johnstone, Sandra Gould, Junius Matthews, Carlton Young, Frank Gerstle, Marvin Miller, Frank Lovejoy, Berry Kroeger, Vic Perrin, Elliott Lewis, Eleanore Tanin, Herb Vigran, Jack Webb, Peggy Webber and Will Wright.

    Music was supplied by Dee Castillo, organist Ivan Ditmars, Cy Feuer, Wilbur Hatch and Leith Stevens. The announcers were Paul Frees and Roy Rowan.








    Sunday, August 9, 2009

    A Life of Bliss (BBC)

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    George Cole and Petula Clark at the microphone recording A Life of Bliss.


    A Life of Bliss, a new radio sitcom, was introduced by the BBC on the 29th of July, 1953 starring George Cole as awkward, absent-minded bachelor David Bliss. In the early episodes Nora Swinburne played Bliss's sister and Esmond Knight his brother-in-law, playing a married couple, Robert and Pamela Batten, with Rosalind making an appearance in a 1954 as Marie. Later their parts were taken over by Diana Churchill and Colin Gordon.

    The writer of the series, Geoffrey Harrison, was frequently late completing his scripts, to the extent that he would be still typing them at the recording sessions while Percy Edwards (the "bark" of Psyche the dog in the series) entertained the studio audience with his animal impressions. The series ran for 118 episodes and transferred to television in the early 1960s.


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    A Life Of Bliss.zip


    rand’s esoteric otr

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    rand’s esoteric otr   A weblog and podcast featuring vintage broadcasts directly transferred from original transcriptions.

    Quotes from the blog:

    "This blog and podcast features recordings of unusual and esoteric original 16" radio transcriptions from my personal collection - shows that aren't widely circulated among OTR (old time radio) collectors."

    "Transcriptions were used from the 1930s through the 1950s to distribute syndicated radio shows to stations. They're 16" discs, usually made of vinyl like modern records, but sometimes pressed of thick, heavy shellac, like a 78. The discs hold a maximum of 15 minutes per side. For playback, they require a special turntable and a wide-groove 78 needle, along with proper equalization for proper reproduction on modern equipment."




    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    Gang Busters

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    Gang Busters was an American dramatic radio program heralded as "the only national program that brings you authentic police case histories." It premiered as G-Men, sponsored by Chevrolet, on July 20, 1935.

    After the title was changed to Gang Busters January 15, 1936, the show had a 21-year run through November 20, 1957. Beginning with a barrage of loud sound effects — a shrill police whistle, convicts marching in formation, police siren wailing, machine guns firing, and tires squealing — this intrusive introduction led to the popular catchphrase "came on like Gang Busters" - followed by a voice over a megaphone or loudspeaker announcing the title of that night's program: "Tonight, Gangbusters presents the Case of the ---" and ending with more blasts from a police whistle.

    The series dramatized FBI cases, which producer-director Phillips H. Lord arranged in close association with Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover insisted that only closed cases would be used.

    The initial series was on NBC Radio from July 20 to October 12, 1935. It then aired on CBS from January 15, 1936 to June 15, 1940, sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive and Cue magazine. From October 11, 1940 to December 25, 1948, it was heard on the Blue Network, with various sponsors that included Sloan's Liniment, Waterman pens and Tide. Returning to CBS on January 8, 1949, it ran until June 25, 1955, sponsored by Grape-Nuts and Wrigley's chewing gum. The final series was on the Mutual Broadcasting System from October 5, 1955 to November 27, 1957. It was once narrated by Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., former head of the New Jersey State Police.

    The radio series was adapted for DC Comics and Big Little Books. Universal Pictures made a very popular Gang Busters (serial) movie serial in 1942, starring Kent Taylor and Ralph Morgan. The 1952 Gang Busters TV series was reedited into two feature films, Gang Busters (1955, with Myron Healey as Public Enemy No. 4) and Guns Don't Argue (1957, with Healey as John Dillinger).





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    One of the earliest crime/police dramas. This show featured dramatizations of real criminals with the stories taken from actual FBI and police files. The stories were presented in semi-documentary style. There was no continuing cast, but creator and writer Phillips H. Lord narrated each show.

    "Gang Busters" was a pioneering radio series detailing the activities of the nation's most notorious crime figures of the day. It was unique in that at the end of every episode, the announcer would inform listeners to call the local police or "Gang Busters" for information on wanted criminals still on the loose. In that respect, it was definitely a precursor of today's reality shows like "America's Most Wanted".

    The television version, which premiered in 1952, stayed true to the radio format, telling stories of legendary scum like John Dillinger, Willie "The Actor" Sutton, etc. And just as on radio, viewers were informed of criminals still on the loose, and were encouraged to contact the show or the police.



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    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    Life of Riley, The

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    The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, was a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film and continued as a long-running television series during the 1950s, originally with Jackie Gleason playing Bendix's role.

    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. Then producer Irving Brecher saw Bendix as taxicab company owner Tim McGuerin in Hal Roach's film, 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 catch phrases of the 1940s: "What a revoltin' development this is!" The radio series also benefited from the immense popularity of a supporting character, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown), "the friendly undertaker."

    The expression, "Living the life of Riley" suggests an ideal life of prosperity and contentment, possibly living on someone else's money, time or work. Rather than a negative freeloading or golddigging aspect, it instead implies that someone is kept or advantaged. The expression was popular in the 1880s, a time when James Whitcomb Riley's poems depicted the comforts of a prosperous home life, but it could have an Irish origin: After the Reilly clan consolidated its hold on County Cavan, they minted their own money, accepted as legal tender even in England. These coins, called “O'Reillys” and “Reilly's,” became synonymous with a monied person, and a gentleman freely spending was “living on his Reillys.” Thus, the radio-TV title has an ironic edge.

    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 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 John Brown, who portrayed not only undertaker Digger O'Dell but also Riley's co-worker Jim Gillis. 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 series was co-developed by the non-performing Marx Brother, Gummo.

    The American Meat Institute (1944-45), Procter & Gamble (Teel dentifrice and Prell shampoo) (1945-49), and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (1949-51) took turns as the radio program's sponsor.

    Beginning October 4, 1949, the show was also adapted for television on NBC by the producer of the radio series, Irving Brecher. Originally, William Bendix was to have appeared on both radio and television, but Bendix's RKO movie contract prevented him from appearing on TV. Instead, Jackie Gleason starred, along with Rosemary DeCamp as wife Peg, Gloria Winters as daughter Barbara (Babs), Lanny Rees as son Chester Jr. (Junior), and Sid Tomack as Jim Gillis, Riley's manipulative best buddy and next-door neighbor. John Brown returned as the morbid counseling undertaker Digby (Digger) O'Dell ("Cheerio, I'd better be... shoveling off"; "Business is a little dead tonight"). Television's first Life of Riley won television's first Emmy (for "Best Film Made For and Shown on Television"). However, it came to an end on March 28, 1950 after 26 episodes, but not because of "low ratings" or a desire by Gleason to leave the series, as previously assumed; the real reason was that Irving Brecher and sponsor Pabst Brewing Company reached an impasse on extending the series for a full 39-week season. Groucho Marx received a credit for "story."

    The second TV series, produced by Tom McKnight for NBC, brought back William Bendix, beginning January 2, 1953 on NBC. He was supported by Marjorie Reynolds as wife Peg, Tom D'Andrea as schemer buddy Gillis, Gloria Blondell as Gillis' wife, Honeybee, Lugene Sanders as daughter Babs, and Wesley Morgan as son Junior. This Life of Riley series with Bendix lasted 217 episodes and remained an NBC fixture until August 22, 1958. It then went into syndicated reruns.


    Jack Benny

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    Jack Benny (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974), born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film. Widely recognized as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, Benny played the role of someone comically "tight" with his money, insisting on remaining 39 years old despite his actual age, and often playing the violin badly.

    Benny was known for his comic timing and his ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!" His radio and television programs, tremendously popular in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were a foundational influence on the situation comedy.

    With Canada Dry Ginger Ale as a sponsor, Benny came to radio on The Canada Dry Program, beginning May 2, 1932, on the NBC Blue Network and continuing there for six months until October 26, moving the show to CBS on October 30. With Ted Weems leading the band, Benny stayed on CBS until January 26, 1933.

    Arriving at NBC on March 17, Benny did The Chevrolet Program until April 1, 1934. He continued with The General Tire Revue for the rest of that season, and in the fall of 1934, for General Foods as The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny (1934-42) and, when sales of Jell-O were affected by sugar rationing during World War II, The Grape Nuts Program Starring Jack Benny (1942-44). On October 1, 1944, the show became The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny, when American Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarettes took over as his radio sponsor, through the mid-1950s. By that time, the practice of using the sponsor's name as the title began to fade.

    The show returned to CBS on January 2, 1949, as part of CBS president William S. Paley's notorious "raid" of NBC talent in 1948-49. There it stayed for the remainder of its radio run, which ended on May 22, 1955. CBS aired repeats of old radio episodes from 1956 to 1958 as The Best of Benny for State Farm Insurance, who later sponsored his television program from 1960 through 1965.




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