Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 1943: 'The Adventures of Archie Andrews' first heard on NBC Blue

 
May 31, 1943: The Adventures of Archie Andrews was a comic strip sitcom that came on radio, and was he aired on the NBC Blue network. The radio sitcom was based on Bob Montana's comic strip about Archie Andrews and his teen-age pals. They moved to Mutual Broadcasting in January 1944, and then to NBC in June 1945. Archie, Veronica and the gang stayed on radio for about ten years.

"The Adventure of Archie Andrews" was a 15-minute radio series aired daily on NBC Blue. For a brief period, it was aired in a different timeslot, every Saturday mornings for 30 minutes. When it transferred to Mutual in 1944, the it was broadcast again during weekdays. From its debut up to 1994, the series fared pretty well, although it was only in 1945 when it rated extremely high due to the introduction of new characters. The actors that portrayed  Archie Andrews  include Jack Grimes, Charles Mullen, and Bob Hastings.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30, 1922: The First Show of Ed McConnel on radio

May 30, 1922: 'Smiling' Ed McConnell started his debut on radio with smiled and played his banjo. In the future he becomes a legend on the medium.


Ed McConnell was heard  for the first time over WJZ, At one time, he was heard on 15 minute program that sponsored by the Air Conditioning Training Corporation of Youngstown, Ohio at 10:30am.

McConnell attracted youngsters when he created the Froggy the Gremlin character accompanied by Irma Allen's play on the organ or Del Owen on the piano. Although kids known McConnell as "Smilin' Ed," he kept continue his religious program for adults.

While the Buster Brown Show was running, Ed presented a five-minute show sponsored by the American Poultry Journal. The show was broadcast by over 50 stations. Another Smilin' Ed show that turned up for a while was a 15-minute program sponsored by the Purity Baking Company.

For his work in radio, he got a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he continued on television from 1950 until his death of a heart attack in 1954. Andy Devine then took over the show for another couple of years, and "Smilin' Ed's Gang" became "Andy's Gang."
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29: Happy Birthday, Bob Hope

I don't know, I think Leslie Townes Hope would be a great name for a comedian and all-around show biz icon. LT Hope, perhaps. But we know the man born on this day in 1903 not by his birth name but as Bob Hope. Self-effacing but razor-sharp, wholesome but with a racy edge, Hope had wide appeal and will go down in history as one of the top comedians of the twentieth century.

Like all the big stars of the Depression and World War II eras, Hope was versatile enough to thrive in various media: film and radio, and later television. His biting monologues sizzled on the airwaves to American homes on The Pepsodent Show. He then began broadcasts on military bases, entertaining overseas troops, something for which he would go on to be best known.

1943 would take Hope into perilous locales in Sicily, Ireland, Africa, and England, with his USO troupe made up of Jack Pepper, Tony Romano, and Frances Langford. In the upcoming years, he'd entertain servicemen and servicewomen fighting in the Vietnam War and in Beirut, wherever there was an armed conflict. Often this would come in the form of a Christmas show. This service gained him the nickname #1 Soldier in Greasepaint.

Hope lived a hundred years and entertained for seventy of them. He is #1 in longevity and versatility. Happy birthday, Bob Hope!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28, 1931: Broadcast of The Witch's Tale on WOR Radio Station

May 28, 1931: The Mutual Broadcasting System, through its flagship station, WOR radio in New York City, first aired "The Witch's Tale". The program was enjoyed by listeners until 1938. "The Witch's Tale" was a radio masterpiece of  Alonzo Deen Cole. It was a horror-fantasy radio series and aired on WOR and Mutual and in syndication from 1931 to 1938 .

Old Nancy was assigned as the host of Cole's spooky show.  Adelaide Fitz-Allen played the role of Old Nancy. After Ms Allen's passing the role was taken by  Miriam Wolfe, and Martha Wentworth who was also heard as Old Nancy on occasion. Cole himself hive his voice for role of Old Nancy's cat, Satan. Cole's wife, Marie O'Flynn,assigned as lead female characters on the program, and the supporting cast included Mark Smith and Alan Devitte.

The shows were recorded live during broadcast and distributed to other stations. But later in 1961, Cole destroyed these recordings, only a few remain.

In November 1936, Alonzo Deen Cole edited  The Witch's Tale  magazine with the lead story by Cole. It ran for only two issues.

Enjoy this episode of Witch's Tale entitled "Graveyard Mansion" from 1933:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27: Happy Birthday, Vincent Price


Imagine a dozen voices singing "Happy Birthday" in a sepulchral, raspy Vincent Price voice.

 Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was born on this day in 1911 and would forge a career in broadcasting, television, and film. The gothic ghoul who oozed cool graced the airwaves of such programs as Lux Radio Theater, Suspense, Escape, and Hollywood Star Playhouse.

Check out the titles of the programs brought to life by Price's mid-century appearances on Suspense: "Fugue In C Minor," "Hands of Mr. Ottermole," "Rave Notice." He also starred in literary chillers "Occurrence At Owl Creek" and Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum."

The Yale-educated Price started his acting career in Broadway and didn't waste much time busting into film, starring in the 1953 flick "House of Wax" alongside Frank Lovejoy and Phyllis Kirk.

Price may be the only person born today who has won a "Grim Reaper Award" and who is a member of the Horror Hall of Fame. A scary and horrific birthday to you, Vincent!

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26: Happy Birthday Al Jolson


Al Jolson was one of the most famous Broadway performers of his day. He was spontaneous and daring, improvising at will and giving audiences long segments of his song and dance stylings. He is, of course, known to history for his blackface routines, which have suffered disrepute, widely considered racist.

Jolson's early alter ego, was Gus, a wily underdog who survived on his wits. Jolson played Gus in such revues as "The Honeymoon Express" and "Dancing Around."

Off stage, Jolson was known to bet on the ponies and on boxers. He was known for his volatile personality.

Jolson lit up the radio airwaves with appearances on Bing Crosby's Chesterfield Show and Kraft Music Hour. He also had a brief run with his own Al Jolson Show.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18: Meredith Willson Musical Revue

Meredith Willson was a band leader and conductor who then became a radio star and host of his own show. Meredith Willson's Musical Revue aired from 1935 to '53. The road to this distinction passed through work in the trenches. Willson served as the musical director for Tallulah Bankhead's "The Big Show." He also gained some notability as a songwriter, the author of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," and the Beatles hit "Till There Was You."

His was an All-American story, one of a smalltown boy who would travel to New York City wanting to break into show business. Meredith Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902. Though far from the lights of the big city, he did have a musical environment. His mom taught music lessons, and a childhood friend of his joined him for flute duets. Later, he would use this environment as the inspiration for Music Man.

His style became dubbed "Chiffon Swing." Today we celebrate his 1902 birth.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17, 1939: NBC and MBS broadcasted Glenn Miller Orchestra's performance at the Glen Island Casino

May 17, 1939: Both NBC and Mutual carried the event of a memorable dual-network radio broadcast of Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. The scene of the event was the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, NY. It was attended by 1,800 people and took place at the casino ballroom.

This event, which lasted until August 18th of the same year, was a part of the orchestra's three-month summer season engagement at that casino. The recordings was broadcast by both NBC and Mutual which  greatly helped make the  Glenn Miller Orchestra  become even more popular.with record-breaking attendance.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15: Happy Birthday, Eddy Arnold


Quick! Name a big country singer from the 40's 50's and 60's! A lot of people would answer Johnny Cash, Hank Snow--even Hank William's Jr.'s music was huge after his death. But Eddy Arnold topped them all in terms of number one hits. You may remember some of his smashes, "Bouquet of Roses," "Anytime," "Just a Little Lovin' (Will Go a Long Way)," "Please Help Me I'm Falling," and "Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain."

He was thought of as an urban cowboy, a crooner more than a hillbilly, and he made big contributions to the world of radio.

Before his 1946 string of number one hits, Arnold hosted Checkerboard Fun Fest, a hootenanny of a radio variety show featuring Rod Brasfield, Curle Fox, and The Cackle Sisters.

On the other end of his halcyon days as a C&W star, in the 1960's, he hosted a series of public service announcements for Social Security, on which he strummed songs such as "Who's Sorry Now," and "Cold Cold Heart." A hearty happy birthday to Eddy Arnold!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14, 1945: The kids show 'The Sparrow and the Hawk' airs on CBS for the First time

May 14, 1945: CBS radio first broadcast The Sparrow and the Hawk, a series for kids.

The show centered around aviation, starring Young Barney Mallory and his uncle, Hawk Mallory. The show is so rare that only one episode is still in existence.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 1946: Juvenile Jury airs on Mutual

 
May 11, 1946: Juvenile Jury was hosted by Jack Barry on WOR radio in New York City. It debuted on the Mutual Broadcasting System's 'Coast-to-Coast' after becoming a huge hit through only five weeks on air.

This radio show was actually for children, featuring children trying to help others with their problems and was a big hit.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9: Happy Birthday, Mike Wallace


While Massachusetts was Mike Wallace's 1918 birthplace, Michigan was the birthplace of his broadcasting career. Wallace was a writer and newscaster at WOOD in Grand Rapids, and then an announcer at Detroit's WXYZ. After his tour of duty in the Navy during the WWII, Wallace returned stateside and found employ as radio announcer in Chicago, doing the emcee duties for such shows as Sky King and Curtain Time. He got a higher-profile gig announcing for Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life.

It was then on to broadcast journalism with an interview show called Night Beat. Mike Wallace radio life was concluding as he would go on to television super-stardom, with his claim to fame being 60 Minutes. Wallace died in 2012.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6: Happy Birthday, Orson Welles



While standing out in the memories of most as being "the director of Citizen Kane," Orson Welles was a polymath and a practitioner of all mass media. As a filmmaker, Welles had a very keen visual sense, but he is also well-known for his deep and booming voice. This made him a natural for radio.

He entered the medium relatively early in a career that had been, at that point, one centered around drama. He'd established a theatre troupe called The Mercury Theatre, and before long he decided to expand this to an iteration for radio called Mercury Theatre on the Air. This 1938 series mostly adapted classic and contemporary dramatic works, but it was also the show on which the "War of the Worlds" blowup occurred. The attention from that got new sponsorship and a new iteration of the program, Campbell Playhouse. This series adapted such works as "Our Town," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Mutiny on the Bounty," and ran from December of '38 to March of '40.

During the late 30's and early 40's, even though Welles was not a big film star, and hadn't yet become famous as the director of Kane  his talent and iconic voice were recognized enough for him to be asked to make appearances on The Fred Allen Show and The Charlie McCarthy Show.

Other radio series Welles masterminded were Black Museum, This is My Best, Orson Welles' Almanac, and Ceiling Unlimited. He was born on this day in 1915.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 1935: The debut of Ethel Merman's 'Rhythm at Eight'

 
May 5, 1935: The first debut of the "Rhythm at Eightradio program. This program starred the 24 years old actress Ethel Merman. Unfortunately,  Merman's broadcast only lasted for 13 weeks before Miss Merman went back to Broadway. But in later years she would become a legend.

Known as the musical comedy stage's first lady, Ethel Merman, born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman, was an American singer famous for her powerful voice. Compared to her contemporaries, Merman had a great advantage over them despite never taking singing lessons. In fact, she was told that she didn't need any at all.

Due to her popularity, she was mentioned in many movies, Broadway plays, songs, etc.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3: Happy Birthday, Bing Crosby


A stirrer of the imagination, a soother of souls, a gentle and loyal companion, Bing Crosby is a crooner for all-time, a superstar of the twentieth century. Known for his songs "White Christmas," "Surrender Dear," and "Sweet Leilani," the baritone was called "the most admired man alive" by Yank magazine.

From 1935-'43, Crosby appeared regularly on Kraft Music Hall. He also made many appearances on Command Performance and Philco Radio Time. These performances, in addition to showcasing his now-legendary vocal skills, allowed him to work with the biggest names of the day, including Peggy Lee, Boris Karloff, Al Jolson, Groucho Marx, and Fred Astaire.

The story has it that his nickname Bing (he was born Harry) came from his infatuation with the comic strip Bingville Bugle.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1: Happy Birthday, Kate Smith


Kate Smith was born on this day in 1907, and it's not every day we get to celebrate the birth of the First Lady of Radio. The Kate Smith Show featured not only Smith's rich voice but comedy skits, musical performances, even drama. Guests included Gene Kelley, Al Jolson, Dorothy Lamour, and Ed Sullivan. What's more, Henny Youngman served as regulars, delivering their now legendary radio comedy.

Some of you may remember a lesser-known program, Kate Smith Speaks, on which "The Songbird of the South" gave her opinions on current events issues.

One thing you may not know about her was that it was she who introduced the public to Irving Berlin's rousing anthem "God Bless America" in 1938. Happy Birthday, first lady!