Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Helen Hayes

The First Lady of American Theater, the first stage actress to go on to win an Academy Award, Helen Hayes was born on this day in 1900.  Helen Hayes starred in Victoria Regina, The Sin of Madelon Claudet and Happy Birthday.

In 1941, she took the helm as producer, actress and even casting director of the CBS radio series The Helen Hayes Theatre of the Air, a series running contemporary plays.

Hayes starred in a 1938  Lux Radio Theatre production of Jane Eyre and turned in appearances on a wide variety of classic radio series such as The Campbell's Playhouse, The Silver Theatre, and Dupont Cavalcade of America.  Radio gave us all the big stars of the 30's, 40's, and 50's, delivered as just a voice to let our imaginations fill in the rest.  Helen Hayes was just one shining example.

Friday, October 9, 2015

October 9: Happy Birthday, Aimee Semple McPherson

Stretcher days, cars plasters with religious slogans, and gypsies in garish clothing: all the iconography of one Aimee Semple McPherson, whose birthday we celebrate.

McPherson was a preacher whose message revolved around the "four-square Gospel."  She was well-spoken and charismatic, and she had a radio ministry.  In 1926, she disappeared from her Los Angeles home, alarming her followers, who called for a full-scale investigation. She later reappeared with a yarn about a kidnapping, while it seemed more likely she had run off for a romantic tryst with her radio operator.

In any event, Aimee McPherson, with donations from her congregation, started station KFSG in 1924 to broadcast her message.  On the station, among other programming, she unleashed such sermons as "Big Bad Wolf," "I Found the Keys," and "Seven Sneezes In Shunnen."  That's worth a happy birthday and this brief recognition, right?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 8: Happy Birthday, Walter Schumann

Today marks what would've been the one hundredth birthday of Walter Schumann!  Schumann was a composer in the television, radio, and film industries, noted for whipping up The Dragnet Theme.

New York-born Schumann enlisted at the outbreak of the Second Great War, becoming the musical director of the Armed Forces Radio Service.  That made an improbable segue into his next gig, the job of writing scores for Abbott & Costello pictures.  From there it was the infamous Dragnet theme and work on The Night of the Hunter.

Rock on, Walter. And happy birthday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 7: Happy Birthday, Andy Devine!

Happy Birthday to Andy Devine!  Andy Devine was born on this day in 1905. He was a character actor in Western radio and TV, Andy Devine was the sidekick of the greatest stars in Hollywood.

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5, 1934: Debut of Hollywood Hotel Program on CBS

October 5, 1934: "Hollywood Hotel" aired on CBS. It was one of the earliest radio programs to be transmitted directly from Hollywood.

The program "Hollywood Hotel" was hosted by Dick Powell and featured  hollywood gossip radio star,  Louella Parsons in a starring role.  Dick Powell also performed his song and and kibitzed withLouella and her movie star guests. Louella Parsons  with her power, could get various stars to come as features of the program. The impressive collaboration between Dick Powell and Louella Parsons gave the Hollywood Hotel mass appeal, pushing it to become one of the highest rated radio shows on the air.

The program, broadcast on CBS, only lasted until 1937 because of a problem with the American Federation of Radio Artists. Powell and Louella then moved to other radio stations. The whole story is featured in the Tony Thomas book, The Films Of Dick Powell.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 4: Happy Birthday, Damon Runyon

Let's give an oldtime radio happy birthday to Damon Runyon, the creator of "The Seldom Seen Kid," "Dave the Dude," "Harry the Horse," and "Benny Southstreet."   The author of Guys and Dolls also penned many short stories on characters one could find around Broadway in Depression-era NYC.

Damon Runyon Theatre soared the airwaves in 1949, bringing to life such works as "Barbecue," "Lonely Heart," and "Blond Mink."  Frank Gallop served as the announcer.

We salute the stylish prose of Damon Runyon!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 3, 1942: Bob Hawk in 'Thanks To The Yanks' on CBS

October 3, 1942: Radio show Thanks to the Yanks was presented on CBS for the first time by Bob Hawk, later becoming one of the most famous war shows of its time.

Thanks to the Yanks was considered one of the greatest war-themed programs to ever hit the airwaves during war-time era. It was aired for three years from 1942 to 1945. It was succeeded by The Bob Hawk Show which basically followed the format of its predecessor.