Showing posts with label Burns and Allen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Burns and Allen. Show all posts

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27: Happy Birthday, Marlene Dietrich



We wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers, and, simultaneously, a happy birthday to the mysterious, urbane songstress, Marlene Dietrich.  As Marie Magdalene Dietrich, she entered the world on this day in 1901.

While her icy stare may not have played well on the radio, her voice certainly did.  She turned in sensuous and beguiling performances in such episodes of Lux Radio Theater as "Song of Songs," "Manpower," and "The Legionnaire."  She also appeared on Martin and Lewis and Burns and Allen.

An anti-Nazi voice and USO participant, Dietrich died in Paris at the age of 90.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18: Happy Birthday Kay Kyser (Kollege of Musical Knowledge)

James Kern Kyser was born June 18, 1905 and became one of the most notable bandleaders of the 30’s and 40’s. He...oh wait, you may know him by his other name, Kay Kyser...went onto become of the most respected and admired radio personalities of his day. Because of his energy and enthusiasm while in college, Kyser was asked to head up a band whose leader was moving on to other pursuits. As the new bandleader, Kay Kyser discovered his talent lay more in the announcing end of leading then trying to perform an instrument. Kyser would record a couple of hit pieces for Victor before becoming nationally acclaimed. As the band toured the country, Kay’s benchmark of turning playing music into quiz time for the audience, earned the band the name of the Kollege of Musical Knowledge. And as the “The Ol’ Perfessor”, Kyser would use his position to query and encourage the audience into dancing with phrases like, “C’mon chilluns, let’s dance”. By the late 30’s and in through the 40’s, the Kollege of Musical Knowledge was performing on radio for Mutual and NBC. The “Ol’ Professor” was calling out the quiz questions on the air just before hitting the band music for listeners everywhere. Jack Benny and Burns and Allen radio programs were some of the venues that had visits by The Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Hit instrumentalists like Sully Mason and Jack Martin were part of the band, which identified the unique calibre and personality of this travelling ensemble. Kay Kyser would take his band and fame into the movie industry and television. But his legacy as the travelling center of musical academia was his showpiece. Kay Kyser passed away in June of 1985. The “The Ol’ Perfessor” had ended his tenure.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23: Happy Birthday, Harpo Marx



According to his memoir, Harpo Marx was thrown out of school in the second grade.  But not how you might think.  Literally thrown out.  In Harpo Marx, the blonde-maned, second-oldest Marx brother says that Irish bullies in his New York City elementary school would convey him out the window of his learning institution.

No, the school didn't throw Harpo (born Adolph Marx) out: he quit.

From there, it was comedy on stage, screen, and airwaves.  Fans of harp solos should check out Mr. Marx's appearances on Command Performance, and The Burns and Allen Show.  We salute today's birthday boy, Harpo Marx.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3: Happy Birthday Alan Ladd!

Sept 3: Happy Birthday, Alan Ladd



Alan Ladd (born Alan Walbridge Ladd) debut as a lead in a major motion picture was in 1942 in This Gun for Hire. This collection includes his radio version of This Gun for Hire from Lux Radio TheaterAlan Ladd with Daughter Alana
Alan Ladd with daughter, Alana
Other films that he starred in include, The Great Gatsby, The Blue Dahlia, and The Glass Key. He continued to star in major roles such as the critically acclaimed Shane in the 1950s and until his death in 1964. Remembered both on screen and on the radio as a top-rate performer.

This collection hopes to honor the work of Alan Ladd on radio. The second volumes contains the complete collection of Box 13, his most memorable role on radio as Dan Holiday. On the first volume there are also examples of some of his best work on the radio from shows such as Burns and AllenCommand PerformanceJerry at Fair OaksLux Radio TheaterScreen Director's TheaterScreen Guild Theater, and Suspense.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22: Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Today's birthday commemoration goes out to the renowned author Ray Bradbury. About sixty years before the "Green" movement, meant to stave off the destruction of the natural Earth, Bradbury set his stories in Green Town, an analogy for his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Green Town was green and inviting and nurturing, yet also the setting for fantastic events like an uncle growing wings and carnivals bringing characters with supernatural powers. 

It's no surprise that Bradbury's weird tales in the science fiction genre were adapted for radio, by programs such as Dimension X, X Minus One and Suspense. But did you know that at the tender age of fourteen, the future author of Fahrenheit 451 got his first paying gig as a writer for the Burns and Allen Show? That's right, loyal listeners.

Bradbury did something very unique and quirky in his literary career. Feeling the world needed a journal devoted just to his works, he published Futuria Fantasia, with almost all the work being written by him. He used pseudonyms to hide this, though. This was in 1938, when he was a whipper-snapper just graduating high school. We salute you, Ray Bradbury!

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26: Happy Birthday, Gracie Allen


If the great comedian, George Burns, had a great love of his life...it was Gracie Allen. Miss Allen was born July 26, 1895 (at best guess as her birth records were lost in the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906) and through her illustrious career, she endeared herself to the hearts of millions of fans around the globe. She made her first appearance to the masses at the age of 3 when she performed with Eddie Cantor. As part of “The Four Colleens”, she and her sisters performed irish dances and eventually ended up on vaudeville with her older sister Bess. In 1922 she met a young comic vaudevillian named George Burns and teamed up...both on stage and in life. In their act, Gracie originally was the straight force of the duo, but as she was receiving the laughter for her less than “all there” approach to dialog. Gracie Allen became the focal point of the jocularity.

In reality, Miss Allen had a keen I.Q. and  was very articulate. Their success on the stage carried the husband-wife team perfectly onto radio. By the 1930’s, their rapporte of wit and witticism became a huge portion of their popularity on the air waves. As the 40’s rolled around, their situational radio comedy program, “Burns and Allen”, blossomed into a generational approach to humor. Gracie and her “illogical logic” made each episode a delight and favorite with the listening public. She might make you scratch your head trying to figure out the explanation or phrase she gave to each quip or barb flung her way...yet she never fell down for lack of something to say. She and her husband played off a stunt that lasted most of the election year of 1940 when they ran for President and Vice-President under the Surprise Ticket. Gracie Allen received over 40,000 votes that November.

Over the years their program made it to television and film and they were a continual favorite among the american audience. In 1964, Gracie Allen lost her battle with heart disease. When George Burns uttered the infamous line, “Say goodnight Gracie”...she did for the last time.