Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30, 1939: Captain Midnight Takes Off

 
September 30, 1939: A popular show Captain Midnight was heard on radio for the first time on Mutual. The Captain flew his single-engine plane all over the place fighting crime. Captain Midnight was sponsored by Skelly Oil and by Ovaltine, which dropped its sponsorship of Little Orphan Annie to climb on board with this show.

Captain Midnight, an adventure franchise, was a radio aviation serial that debuted in 1938 as a syndicated show. Sponsored by the Skelly Oil Company, it was initially aired on a few radio stations in the Midwest area. When Ovaltine took over sponsorship in 1940, it became a national hit. The show was broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network. Captain Jim ""Red"" Albright, a World War I U.S. Army pilot, was the title character. The show moved to another network from 1942 until 1945 when it was aired back on Mutual and remained there until its final run in 1949.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 29: Happy Birthday, Gene Autry


Today marks the birthday, in 1907, of Gene Autry, song-writer, singer, cowboy, singing cowboy, actor, radio star, and baseball team owner.

A teenage Autry took a job operating a telegraph wire, sending people's messages for them.  One day, in walked the comedian Will Rogers.  Autry, a good worker though he may have been, happened to have been playing a guitar between customers.  Rogers was impressed with what he heard and encouraged Autry to go into show biz.

To Autry this meant landing a spot of Tulsa's KVOO, billed as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy."

From there it was a successful radio career that would then propel Autry into the role of radio host, taking the helm of a show sponsored by Wrigley's.  The CBS show put on a spread, not just of music and comedy, but even drama.  It lasted a lot longer than a stick of gum: 16 years in all.

In the spirit of honoring that kind of longevity, we take off our hats and offer a cowboy salute to Gene Autry.

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 1939: The Fleischmann Hour's Final Hour

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September 28, 1939: After a decade of entertaining radio, the final broadcast of The Fleischmann Hour was heard. Rudy Valle, the star of the show, wrapped things up.

The top-rated musical variety radio show The Fleischmann Hour was a pioneering radio program aired on NBC. The broadcast showcased the hosting skill of Rudy Vallee, who was both a singer and an actor.  The show became the staging platform of many future stars of America, such as Milton Merle, The Mills Brothers, and Burns and Allen, to name a few. Rudy Vallee concluded the show's final broadcast after a decade of great radio entertainment.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September 27, 1938: The song 'Thanks for the Memory' was first heard

 
September 27, 1938: The NBC Red Network aired "Thanks for the Memory" on The Bob Hope Show for the first time on this day.

"Thanks for the Memory" was a song written by Ralph Ringer and Leo Robin. It was performed by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross, and was used in the film The Big Broadcast of 1938, where it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song has also become Bob Hope's signature piece.

Due to its extreme popularity, other well-known singers such as Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Nilsson, and Frank Sinatra made their own versions of the song.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15: Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

September 15: Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple could solve the most amazing crimes and mysteries. However, these fictional characters would not have been known by anyone if not for the pen of Miss Agatha Christie.

Born in 1890, Miss Christie would use the name of her first husband (Colonel Archibald Christie)as her authorship name to perplex the world with her imaginative characters and beloved tales. Eventually mantled with the name, “Queen of Crime”, Agatha Christie would write more than 70 mystery novels based upon her Belgian champion or English matriarch as crime solvers. 

Various mystery radio programs would carried some of Agatha Christie's more intriguing forays into the realm of her literary works. After her divorce from the Colonel, Miss Christie married a notable archaeology professor and would travel with him extensively. It was these journeys that impacted many of her books. 

In 1952, her work, The Mousetrap, made it to the stage in England and still holds the record for longest running , unbroken engagement in drama history. 

In the 1970’s a couple of major motion pictures were produced based upon her books, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Agatha Christie passed away in 1974 and her work still stands as some of the most enduring literary masterpieces of the last and this century.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10: Happy Birthday, Adele Astaire

In 1898,three years before her brother, Fred Astaire, was born, Adele Astaire entered the world on Sept 10. A child raised in a New York boardinghouse and educated at the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts, Adele began performing on the Vaudeville circuit with her sibling at the tender age of seven.

Astaire appeared on the sustaining program Magic Key on Jan. 12, 1936. The episode also showcased the Pickens Sisters.

Friday, September 4, 2015

September 4: Happy Birthday, Dick York

Dick York, the tall, willowy actor who played Darrin on "Bewitched," was born today in 1928. 

To look at the extensive, prolific TV career of York, take this quiz. Which of these TV series did York not appear in: "The Twilight Zone," "Dr. Kildare," "The Virginian," "Wagon Train." You're absolutely correct if you said he appeared in all of them. He also played occasional roles in "Rawhide," "The Flintstones (himself)," and "Simon & Simon."

Dick York was born at the right time to catch the tail end of radio's comet, and appeared in series such as The Cavalcade of America, Tales of Tomorrow, and Meet the Meeks.

York is widely quoted as saying that Lux Radio Theater inspired him to puke, but it's unclear what he meant by this.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2: Happy Birthday, Johnnie Lee Wills

Perhaps once when you were enjoying the swinging dance music of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, you wondered "how did one get to be a Playboy?" Well, being Bob's brother was the way Johnnie Lee Wills chose. The banjoist joined his brother on the road and in the studio, where the band hosted a show on Tulsa's KVOO. 

Brother Bob set his compass for Hollywood, the band became "Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys" and the show went on. Were they no longer playboys? Had they turned a new leaf and started practicing temperance? Probably not.

In any event, the show ran exactly a quarter of a decade on KVOO, and did syndicated broadcasts after that. He also took the boys on the road. He and his family also ran a store that sold Western clothing. So let's salute a great musician and long-time radio host, born on this day in 1912.