Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29: Happy Birthday, Jack Pearl!

October 29: Happy Birthday, Jack Pearl!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27, 1947: 'You Bet Your Life' on ABC


"And now....here he is....the one....the only.....GROUCHO!" 

You Bet Your Life debuted today in 1947 on ABC Radio.

October 27, 1947: The quiz show You Bet Your Life went on air for the first time on ABC. It was hosted by Groucho Marx and George Fenneman. The show remained on radio from 1948 to 1959 and made the jump to TV from 1950 to 1961. The show included very easy questions, such as, “Who is buried in Grant's tomb?”

Apart from hearing it on the radio, You Bet Your Life could also be seen on television. The show featured teams of contestants consisting of one male and one female, usually selected from the audience. Sometimes, famous people were also invited to play. In the actual game, each team was given the chance to choose a category (from the 20 available), and their task was to answer the questions from that category. Every time they answered the question correctly, they earned money.

For those who had earned $25 or less, a very easy question would be asked, so that an incorrect answer was nearly impossible. Nevertheless, the hosts were shocked when one man incorrectly answered the question "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?" His answer was "no one," pointing out that Grant's Tomb is not buried. 

In 1960, the show's title was changed to The Groucho Show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 20: Happy Birthday, Mickey Mantle



Today we commemorate the birth--in 1931--of New York Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle.

One of Mantle's main entrances into the starry galaxy of vintage radio came very much by accident.  In a still-preserved blooper, an announcer was discussing the phenomenon of "switch hitting," being able to bat with either the left or right hand, when he declared Mantle the best "swish hitter" of all time, with "swish" being slang for homosexual.

The announcer comically overcorrected himself with a very enunciated "switch."

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19, 1937: Debut of Big Town

76 years ago today in 1937, the newspaper drama Big Town premiered on CBS radio. Edward G. Robinson starred in it for the first 5 of its 15 year run. Here's what i find amazing. At its height of popularity, it attracted 20 million listeners a week. Currently on TV, only "NCIS" draws more fans week to week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 18, 1943: Perry Mason airs on CBS for the 1st time

 
October 18, 1943: Perry Mason was aired on CBS for the first time. The fifteen minute show was presented form Monday to Friday. John Larkin starred as the leading role of Perry Mason with Barlett Robinson, Santos Ortega, and Donald Briggs rounding out the rest of the cast.

Perry Mason has been mentioned in over 80 novels and short stories. There was also a popular television show made based on the radio one.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17, 1919: The First Experiment Radio License

October 17, 1919: The founding of Radio Corporation of America

RCA Corporation, established as Radio Corporation of America, was an electronics company that existed from 1919 to 1986. Now, the RCA trademark is owned by Thomson SA. The RCA Trademark is used by two companies, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Thomson SA.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 1945: His Honor the Barber airs on NBC for the 1st time

 
October 16, 1945: Barry Fitzgerald appeared in the leading role of Judge Barnard Fitz in His Honor, the Barber,which aired for the first time on NBC.

Barry Fitzgerald refused all other radio shows until this one cropped up. It featured Judge Fitz and some of his comedic cases. The show only lasted one season, but it did go on to become a Broadway play.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 14: Happy Birthday, Dwight D. Eisenhower



During Ike Eisenhower's presidency, the economy boomed, cars rolled out of Detroit at an unstoppable pace, rock and roll captivated teen audiences, conflict raged in Korea, trouble began in Vietnam, and legions who'd become rebellious hippies toddled around their living rooms in modern comfort.

Eisenhower's Great Society played itself out on the radio in the form of his frequent addresses.  He discussed his relationship with communist-hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Geneva Conference of 1955, and the landing of marines in Beirut.

Today, his addresses serve as great primary texts chronicling both the Great Society and the Cold War.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 13: Happy Birthday, Irene Rich



We salute the 1891 birth of Dear John star, Irene Rich.  Rich's co-star was Gale Gordon, star of Our Miss Brooks, and the show was broadcast Sunday nights on the Columbia Network.

The flapper was a frequent contributor of Will Rogers, starring in such silent films as The Strange Boarder and Jes' Call Me Jim.

Share your cherished memories of Ms.Rich in our "comments" section!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11, 1936: 'Professor Quiz,' the first national quiz, aired for the first time

 
October 11, 1936: On this day, the first national quiz called Professor Quiz aired for the first time on radio. This quiz continued to be aired until 1948. In this quiz, contestants posed questions to Dr. Craig Earl, otherwise known as Professor Quiz. If the contestant could stump Professor Quiz, they earned $25, or the equivalent of $382 in 2009. This quiz show was sponsored by Robert Trout and Velvet Pipe Tobacco

Professor Quiz was dubbed as the first real radio quiz program It aired first on NBC from 1936 to 1941, then on ABC from 1946-1948. It was hosted by Bob Trout, and featured Professor Quiz himself Dr. Craig Earl, along with his wife Mrs. Quiz and son Professor Quiz Jr.

The show posing questions to Professor Quiz which, if he answered incorrectly, resulted in the contestant winning $25.

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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

October 2: Happy Birthday, Barton Yarborough

Though he lived just fifty-one years (1900-51), actor Barton Yarborough racked up an awful lot of mileage with appearances on a variety of programs.

Joe Friday's partner Ben Romero on Dragnet; Doc Long on Dragnet, and Clifford Barbour on One Man's Family: jeez, Barton, save some parts for someone else.

Yarborough was born in Goldthwaite, Texas, and early on decided that he wasn't going to be a cowpoke.  He ran away and joined the vaudeville circuit.  Just like a computer software reviewer or recipe expert experiencing a boon with the advent of the blog, Yarborough flourished when radio was invented for him.

And we're glad he did! Happy Birthday, Big B!