Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30, 1945: Jack Bailey opens his show on Mutual with 'How would you like to queen for a day?'

April 30, 1945: Jack Bailey, host of the Mutual, delivered on this day the opening line, "How would you like to be queen for a day!" for the first time. The first Queen for a Day was Mrs. Evelyn Lane.

A regular radio game show host, Bailey became famous for his Queen for a Day line. The show was a big hit and was eventually transferred to television until 1964.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28: Happy Birthday, Joseph Dunninger

April 28: Happy Birthday, Joseph Dunninger!

That's "The Amazing Dunninger" to you! He was a mentalist--or mind reader--who did some of his best reading on the radio on his 1943-44 radio show, Dunninger, The Master Mentalist. He explained his abilities as being "60 percent mind reading, 10 percent psychology, 10 percent hypnosis, 15 percent self-hypnosis, and 5 percent magic, all of which adds up to 100 percent entertainment."

Let's also note that Joseph Dunninger appeared on a show called The Ghost Hours in 1929, de-bunking rival mentalists. He was a confrontational fellow, challenging any mentalist to do through supernatural means what he, Dunninger did through natural means.  He also had a standing, hefty cash reward for anyone who could prove he used shills or conspirators in his acts.

Dunninger also contributed the influential book The Encyclopedia of Magic. If he were alive today, you could think a happy birthday wish and he'd get it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27: Happy Birthday, Ned Wever

April 27: Happy Birthday, Ned Wever

A happy birthday goes out to talented voice actor Ned Wever, born on this day in 1899.

One of the mainstays in the career of Wever was his regular appearances on The Adventures of Superman, which ran from 1940-1951. Ned Wever played Jor-L, Superman's original father, as well as various bad guys.

He also earned his paycheck for a few years on (remember this one?) the soap opera Betty and Bob. This was a serial about a businessman who fell in love with his secretary, the two of them embarking on a romance. Its episode titles didn't mind giving out spoilers: "Evelyn Purposely Encounters Bob," "Margaret Jameson Has Hit a Girl With a Car," and "Evelyn Decides Not to Marry Sam." One guesses these titles were not announced or published prior to the broadcast.

Ned Wever appeared on episodes of Big Sister, Cavalcade of America, Bulldog Drummond, X-Minus One, and Dick Tracy.

It's important to note that he was also a lyricist of such Golden Age hits as "Sing a New Song," "I Can't Resist You," and "Sweet Stranger."

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25, 1938: The Start of the Drama Series 'Your Family and Mine'

 
April 25, 1938: The first show of Your Family and Mine series aired today.

Your Family and Mine was a radio drama series aired on radio from 1938-1940. It was created by Lilian Laugerty, who also created the successful daytime series Big Sister, which was aired for 16 years (1936-1952). Your Family and Mine features the story of the Wilbur family, and the unexpected changes that happened in the lives of its family members. It starred Lucille Ball, Robert Adams, Frank Lovejoy, William Adams, and Templeton Fox.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24, 1955: X Minus One' First Broadcast

April 24, 1955: The radio science fiction show X Minus One made its first appearance on NBC.

The show began as an adaptation of Dimension X, broadcast by NBC. It soon took on a life of its own. X Minus One got its name from the countdown at the beginning of each show: "X minus five, four, three..."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 1946: A famous radio morning show was entertained by Hi, Jinx

 
April 22, 1946: Hi, Jinx was an entertaining morning show introduced by Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg upon their arrival at WEAF in New York City.

The couple was commonly known as "Tex and Jinx," and the pair helped to revolutionize the concept of the talk show. They continued their productions into early television as well.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 1949: The Brain and the Mustache

April 21, 1949: Famous star Groucho Marx received the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Broadcasting, becoming the first winner of this award. Groucho Marx hosted You Bet Your Life.

Like the Nobel Prize, the George Forster Peabody Award is considered as one, if not the most prestigious achievement in the field of electronic media. With the goal of rewarding people or programs showing “principle of excellence in quality rather than popularity,” the prize was set to be awarded to people, organizations, networks, or individuals that had proven their commitment to commendable public service.

Groucho Marx, a man famous for his mustache, was given this award for being the “Dean of all wise-crackers in this country” because of his witty way of hosting the successful quiz TV show You Bet Your Life.

You Bet Your Life ran for nine years on the radio, had a television remake, and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17, 1935: 'Lights Out' first nationwide broadcast on NBC

April 17, 1935: The ultimate horror show, Lights Out, was aired for the first time on this day, attracting many listeners.

Preceding other mystery series such as Suspense and Inner Sanctum was the radio program Lights Out, which aired on NBC from 1934 to 1947 before it finally received TV adaptation.

The idea for the show actually came from the American writer-producer Willis Cooper, who realized that doing a mystery show instead of airing music during late night would catch the interest of listeners at those times. Instead of broadcasting it as a series, the network made it a crime and mystery anthology. It began as a 15 minute show every Wednesday on a local network of NBC, but it was eventually expanded to a 30 minute session due to its success. When the show was discontinued in January 1935, the network received many requests to bring it back. Three months later, in April, the show aired again and was broadcast nationwide.

Cooper served as the show's writer until 1936, before Arch Oboler replaced him.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12: Happy Birthday, Ann Miller



Today we commemorate the birth on this day in 1920 of charming and lovely screen actress Ann Miller. No flash in the pan or overnight success, Miller paid her dues and toiled for years before becoming a major film star.

She is reputed to have been discovered by Lucille Ball during a nightclub song and dance act, and went on to spectacular musical roles in such films as "Small Town Girl," "On The Town," and "Kiss Me Kate."

The versatile performer made a few, memorable radio appearances. Many of these were on the shows devoted to entertaining the WWII troops, including G.I. Journal and Command Performance. In 1940, she appeared in Forecast a series highlighting notable people from a particular state. Her episode took a look at Texas's Sam Houston.

Happy birthday, Ann Miller!

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11: Happy Birthday, Lou Holtz


How does a radio comedian end up as a bigtime college football coach? Well, the Lou Holtz of our world and the one who coached the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are two different people.

Radio's Lou Holtz was born on this day in 1893 in Beverly Hills. He started touring the Vaudeville circuit in his teens and became one of the genre's big stars. In the 20's, he developed one of his signature character, Sam Lapidus.

Not long after, he began making appearances on the top radio programs of the day, such as The Rudy Vallee Show and The Paul Whiteman Show. From there it was a chance to host his own show, The Lou Holtz Laugh Club. This was a little niblet of a show, just three minutes in length, but packed with comedic stories and jokes told by Lou himself and his guests.

After his retirement, Holtz was able to participate in a real-life laugh club by hanging out at L.A.'s Hillcrest Country Club with comedy legends like The Marx Brothers and George Burns. Meeting adjourned!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, Happy Birthday: Tito Guizar


Guizar was a classically-trained Mexican singer who starred with Roy Rogers and Bob Hope in Hollywood films. His acting and singing career spanned an astonishing seventy years. He's probably best known for his song "Alla en el Rancho Grande," the title song from a 1936 film.

His radio appearances were on Duffy's Tavern, Hello Americans, Its Time to Smile, Mail Call, and Quiz Kids.

His appearance on Duffy's Tavern had him singing "La Feria De Las Flores," just before Talullah Bankhead read from Boris Voitekhov's "The Last Days of Sevastopol." You just can't find radio like this anymore, folks!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6, 1942: 'We Love and Learn' premiered on CBS

April 6, 1942: We Love and Learn, a serial that featured Frank Lovejoy, premiered on CBS radio and the program continued on the air until 1951.

We Love and Learn was a radio soap opera written and produced by Don Becker. The show ran for 15 years under three different titles:
  • As the Twig Is Bent (1941-1942)
  • We Love and Learn (1942-1944 & 1948-1951)
  •  The Story of Ruby Valentine (1955-1956). 
Frank Lovejoy appeared during the 1942 run as the lead character Andrea Reynolds' husband. Andrea Reynolds was portrayed by two different actresses, Joan Banks and Louise Fitch who started mid-1944.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 5: Happy Birthday, Gregory Peck


Lux Radio Theatre and Suspense gave Peck a chance to shine in productions of "The Yearling," "Gentleman's Agreement," and "Murder Through the Looking Glass." He also appeared in a rendering of Anna Karenina on Screen Guild Theater.

Peck was born in La Jolla, CA, and schooled first at St. John's Military Academy and then at the University of California, Berkeley. Without really knowing why, the English major took a role in a stage production of Moby Dick, and a promising career was born. Happy Birthday, Gregory Peck!

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4, 1938: The Debut of Kate Smith's First Noontime Talk show

 
April 4, 1938: Kate Smith started her debut on a new noontime talk show after 7 years she sang on the airwaves.

Even when she was a kid, Kate Smith already love to dance and sing. She used to perform on theaters and nightclubs before she was discovered by Ted Collins in 1930. Collins was Columbia Records' Vice President who became Smith's partner and manager. He put her on a radio show in 1931 where she experience a huge success. Seven years later, due to the popularity of her radio show, she was also given another one, a day daytime talk show entitled Kate Smith Speaks-- a news and gossip radio program.