Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23: Happy Birthday, Gene Kelly


They just don't make 'em like Gene Kelly anymore, do they?  George Clooney, Tom Cruise, you name any of today's big leading men and whatever their virtues, they fall short of the charm and all-around talent of Gene Kelly.

He could act, he could sing, he could dance!  He could even choreograph. Today we celebrate the 1912 birth of Eugene Kelly, the man who gave us Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris and so much more.

While dancing works only so well on the radio, Kelly did lend his talents to the medium that concerns us here.  He appeared on some of the cream of old-time radio, such as Suspense and The Lux Radio Theatre (I'll bet his appearances sold a lot of soap!).    He also appeared on episodes of The Hotpoint Holiday Hour, Opportunity USA, and The Best of Groucho.  His first known appearance on the airwaves was in 1942 (Your Hollywood Radio Reporter) and his last in 1978 (The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast).  What a lot of great memories in between!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 13, 1912: Experimental Radio License Issued


August 13, 1912: U.S. Department of Commerce gave the first radio license for an experiment, conducted by St Joseph's College, Philadelphia,PA.

The Department of Commerce issued an EXPERIMENTAL RADIO LICENSE after the International Radio Convention and Radio Act of 1912 at Philadelphia, Pa. The experiment used a 2 kilowatt transmitter.

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 7: Happy Birthday, Garrison Keillor



Legend has it that exactly a dozen (not even a baker's dozen, but a true dozen) people tuned in to the inaugural broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion in 1974.  It is now an NPR staple, playing to millions.

The show includes skits and songs, Keillor's character Guy Noir, and his famed Tales From Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota hamlet that exemplifies the Midwestern folksiness for which Keillor is renowned.

Much lampooned, often for his breathy voice that hazards the line between radio host and obscene phone caller, Keillor is also an heir to Will Rogers, a beloved awe-shucksy quasi-humorist.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 6: Happy Birthday, Jack Kirkwood


John Dunning, author of On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, called Jack Kirkwood a "comic's comic." This was due to Kirkwood's passion and dedication to the craft, his great work ethic, and his background banging out jokes for years on the vaudeville circuit.

The host of The Jack Kirkwood Show was born on this day in 1894. His show ran from '43-'53 under various named, and treated audiences to sketch comedy, including spoofs of Westerns and other genres of radio programs (this also according to Dunning).

The veteran comic made appearances all over the dial, trading wits with Bob Hope and Edgar Bergen, and also guesting on Ozzie and Harriet, Hallmark Playhouse, and Fibber McGee and Molly.

A happy birthday to Mr. Kirkwood!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 5, 1921: The first broadcast of baseball game on radio


August 5, 1921: On this day, the first baseball game radio broadcast reached the airwaves.  A baseball game for the first time was aired by KDKA in Pittsburgh. Harold Arlin reported, on that match Philadelphia was beaten by Pirates with score 8-5 for Pirates

Harold Arlin also described the action of the Pirates' at Forbes Field, would on to fall just short of the National League Pennant that year with a solid record

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2: Myrna Loy



A few days (and seven years) after the birth of William Powell, Myrna Loy realized if she wanted to star with him in fourteen films, she'd have to be born too.  So she was, on Aug. 2, 1905.

Loy spent her childhood switching from Montana and Southern California, permanently settling into Culver City in 1918, after the death of her father.  She began playing vampy, exotic roles in less-than-stellar silent films like A Girl in Every Port.

Her big break was her first role with Powell, in The Thin Man.  She'd soon become a sought-after actress, starring alongside Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Clifton Webb, and--why not?--Shirley Temple.

She hit the airwaves for a few adaptations of movies she'd starred in, produced by Lux Radio Theatre.  On Suspense she starred in "The Library Book," which probably sounded a lot more intriguing in 1945 than it would today, and she was part of an intrepid group of artists appearing on the 1947 special Hollywood Fights Back.  This program voiced protest against the Un-American Activities Committee.

Thanks for the memories, Myrna!