Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 1947: The 'King' and the 'Queen' tied the knot

December 31, 1947: 'King of the Cowboys' (Roy Rogers) and ‘Queen of the West’ (Dale Evans) tied the nuptial knot. They spent more than fifty years together in this relationship.

The pair, married in Davis, Oklahoma, were an on- and off- screen couple starting from 1946 until Rogers' death of congestive heart failure in 1998. They had only one child, Robin Elizabeth, who suffered from Down's syndrome and died before reaching the age of 2.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 1936: Jack Benny & Fred Allen Feud begins!

December 30, 1936: The famous debate between Jack Benny and Fred Allen was started on this day. After a 10 years old violinist finished his solo performance on the Fred Allen Show, Mr. Allen said older violinist should be a shame to the that boy who play better than the older violinist. Jack Benny was replied quickly, and the humorous debate was continue for some time on those comedian's show

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28, 1941: Lipton Tea cancelled sponsorship to 'The Helen Hayes Show'

 
December 28, 1941: Lipton Tea dropped their sponsorship of the program The Helen Hayes Theater as it prepared for shortages in tea imports from India. The show on CBS was referred to as the first casualty of World War II.

The Helen Hayes Theater was a drama anthology that lasted for less than a year. The Lipton Tea Series became the show's longest, and also best, forum. Helen Hayes herself supervised the production of the series. She even appeared on a commercial for the tea. Nevertheless, just weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed, Lipton Tea announced that it would stop sponsoring the show due to tea shortages that they were expecting to happen during those times.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27: Happy Birthday, Cathy Lewis

December 27: Happy Birthday, Cathy Lewis

Cathy Lewis (December 27th, 1916-November 20, 1968) was best known for her numerous radio appearances.

Lewis moved from her hometown of Spokane, Washington to Chicago and found work on The First Nighter Program. Eventually, Lewis moved back across the country to Hollywood, where she had starring roles in the Pasadena Playhouse productions of Stage Door, Winterset, and To Quito and Back.

In 1943, Cathy met and married Elliot Lewis, a radio actor and writer. They both became staples of the vintage radio scene, regulars among the group known as Hollywood’s Radio Row. The pair appeared both together and separately on programs such as The Whistler. Together they co-created the respected anthology series On Stage and helped to steward the popular mystery's program Suspense. Cathy and Elliot began to be billed as “Mr. and Mrs. Radio.”

Cathy is most remembered for her role as Jane Stacy, a sensibly droll woman that roomed with Irma Peterson in the television comedy My Friend Irma. A lot of Lewis’ early film work was uncredited, but she was eventually able to get bigger roles, such as the female lead in Double Trouble and of course the role in My Friend Irma.

Lewis died of cancer on November 20th, 1968.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 1931: Hansel and Gretel Opera Broadcast on NBC

December 25, 1931: Radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City with Lawrence Tibbett as the feature vocalist on this date. Hansel and Gretel was its first opera and it aired over the NBC network of stations. Olin Downes, the moderator, conducted a quiz in between acts of the opera by asking the celebrity guests questions pertaining to the opera. One interesting fact is that Milton Cross, who was the host/announcer in the program, did his job out of the Met's Box 44.

The performance of the Hansel and Gretel Opera on Christmas Day was the beginning of The Met’s own live Saturday radio broadcast series on NBC.  The Opera's sets and costumes were designed by John Macfarlane, with the lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton. The Opera won over audiences and critics in Cardiff. The popularity of Hansel and Gratel earned it an Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production in London. The Met presented a stellar international cast, featuring mezzo-soprano Alice Coote as Hansel, soprano Christine Schäfer as Gretel, and tenor Philip Langridge as the Witch.

For additional classical and opera radio shows, see also:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24: Happy Birthday Ava Gardner!

December 24: Happy Birthday Ava Gardner!

Ava Gardner was a famous American actress born on December 24th, 1922. She went to Hollywood in 1941 on a contract with MGM, but she was originally unable to separate herself from the crowd of pretty girls working for the company. Gardner was called for some movies, but mostly as just a pretty face in the background.

The Killers was Gardner’s first real cinema hit. She played opposite Burt Lancaster, and her sexy role helped her to quickly establish herself as a femme fatale.

As a way to support her movie career, Gardner made many appearances on radio. Appearing on Suspense helped to solidify her new role as a sex icon, while her performance on Lux Radio Theater in the show Showboat brought many people into the theater.

Ava also did some work supporting the troops, hosting a post-war broadcast of Command Performance as well as a pair of shows with Bob Hope on base visits.

Ava Gardner's marriage life was certainly tumultuous. Her and MGM’s biggest star, Mickey Rooney, were married when Ava was just 19, but they were divorced two years later. Howard Hughes was then taken under the beauty’s spell, but she rejected his offers in favor of Artie Shaw. That marriage also ended quickly. Ava finally married the recently divorced Frank Sinatra in 1951, but even that marriage only lasted a little while. The pair split in 1957, but remained friends all their life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 23, 1928: NBC Formed


December 23, 1928: On this day the National Broadcasting Company was established its coast to coast network which lead to the golden age of radio.

The NBC has several networks, one of them is The NBC Orange Network or also known as the NBC Pacific Coast network. NBC Pacific Coast network was a National Broadcasting Company radio network that operated in the western United States from 1927 to 1936,that was before two-way broadcast-quality communications circuits reached the West to relay the larger NBC Red Network and NBC Blue Network.

The Orange Network created their own program for the West Coast listeners. December 23 1928 was the first time when The Orange network directly relay the eastern program, that was ran until 1936, Orange Network also fed some programs from Red and some from Blue.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15: Happy Birthday, Alan Freed!

December 15: Happy Birthday, Alan Freed!


Chuck Berry sang it, Jerry Lee Lewis sang it...and Alan Freed “penned” it. “It” being rock-n-roll and Alan Freed was the Disc Jockey to bring the famous label to the forefront of America by mixing the radio airwaves with country, blues and jazz.

Born in 1921, Alan Freed stepped over the line to attract the attention of America's youth and to see them as the hot demographic to pitch his music discovery towards. Freed wanted to be a bandleader, but when an ear infection destroyed that dream, the trombone player from Ohio focused in on radio. It was in his capacity as a disc jockey at various radio stations that Freed developed his appreciation for music and to bring to life the rich blends he was discovering and make it appreciated by the teenagers, then filtered to older folks. By 1958, Alan Freed would become embroiled in a scandal in the music business known as payola. major record companies would pay disc jockeys to play certain records, thus showing a favoritism over other performers. Alan Freed ended up being the most notable of the airwave kings to come under criminal prosecution. It was felt by many that he became the scapegoat for the industry because he catered to a huge black population, and racial tensions were beginning to rise at this time. Alan Freed never had the popularity he once held and his last couple of radio stations placed heavy restrictions upon his style. Alan Freed died in 1965 at the age of 43.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14: Happy Birthday, Dan Dailey

There's no business like show business. Like no business I know! Just ask Dan Dailey, who starred in the film by that name. Dailey was a song-and-dance man, a hoofer with a unique style, not quite Fred Astaire but an entertainer of millions nonetheless. He was twice nominated for an Oscar (Best Actor, When My Baby Smiles At Me and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for When Willie Comes Marching Home) and took home a Golden Globe for Best Actor (for the TV series The Governor & J.J.)

Dailey's prodigious career is also made distinctive because of the outstanding actors with whom he starred. These included Johnnie Ray, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and John Wayne.

Dan Dailey, like most big stars of the mid-century era, made many appearances on some of the most prestigious radio programs such as Lux Radio Theatre, Screen Directors Playhouse, and Philco Radio Time. On Lux  he reprised roles on his films Tomahawk, Mother Wore Tights, and Blue Heaven.

Dailey was born today in 1905, and we salute him and thank him for the memories!

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 1901: Marconi receives the first Transatlantic Radio Transmission


December 12, 1901: St. John's Newfoundland became the location where scientist Italian Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal transmission

Known as the master of long-haul communications, Marconi received the Nobel prize in physics for his contributions in wireless telegraphy. Afterwards, he became a successful businessman of his era when he commercialized his radio invention.

His scientific discoveries led to the gradual golden age of radio.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10, 1927: The first WSM Barn Dance Broadcast


December 10, 1927: George Hay introduce the WSM Barn Dance at The Grand Ole Opry for the first time on this day.

The Grand Ole Opry began just five years after commercial radio was born in the United States. In 1925, WSM was  formed. National Life hired  George D. Hay as WSM's first program director. Hay, started his career on radio at WLS, Chicago. He created a barn dance show. Hay called himself "The Solemn Old Judge" and launched what would become the WSM Barn Dance, along with championship fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson.

Hay's popular weekly broadcasts were renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. When WSM radio increased the power of its transmission to 50,000 watts in 1932, the Opry, which aired every Saturday night, could be heard by most of the United States and parts of Canada.

For more great radio western music see:

Friday, December 5, 2014

December 5, 1952: The Green Hornet airs for the last time on Mutual

 
December 5, 1952: Mutual Broadcasting System or MBS hosted The Green Hornet for the last time. Its broadcast took place fifteen years later on Mutual, ABC, and NBC.

The Green Hornet aired on radio in the 1930's, then went on to comics, television, and film. Still captivating years later, the feature film was introduced in January 2011.