Showing posts with label Fibber McGee and Molly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fibber McGee and Molly. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16, 1935 Fibber McGee & Molly made its radio debut


On this day in 1935, Fibber McGee & Molly made its radio debut.

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30: Happy Birthday Mel Blanc


By definition, all Radio Stars are voice actors. No one had as many voices as Mel Blanc. Or perhaps, all those voices had Mel Blanc. Several voice actors have been called “the man of a thousand voices” with some degree of exaggeration. Mel's son, Noel, claimed that Mel's count was closer to 1500.

Mel was born in San Francisco, the second son of Frank and Eva Blanc, on May 30, 1908. The family moved to Portland, OR, where Mel attended Lincoln High school. Mel has been always fond of making up voices and clowning. At the age of 16,  he decided to change his last name because a teacher warned him that he could end up that way, a Blank, a nothing. It is hard to imagine someone as good natured being kept down by such a prediction. He began working in vaudeville throughout the Northwest, and at 17 was the youngest orchestra conductor in the country.

Mel's radio career began at KGW in Portland on the show The Hoot Owls. Mel became  popular with his ability to so many voices and character, and in 1932, he left for Hollywood to find everlasting fame. At this time,  fame eluded him, but he did meet and marry Estelle Rosenbaum. The couple returned to Portland, where Mel went to KEX to produce and co-host the late-night Cobweb and Nuts show. By now, Estelle was gaining confidence in her husband's talents, and convinced him to give Hollywood another try.

He found a job with KFWB, a station that belonged to the Warner Brothers Studio. In 1937, Mel found work with Leon Schlesinger Productions, whose cartoons were distributed by Warner Brothers. Mel is best remembered for the many cartoon characters he brought to life in Warner Brothers cartoons, but in some ways it was just a stepping stone.

The animators loved the way Mel brought their drawings to life. When Mel was recording a voice, he would become the character. Noel claimed he could watch his dad working, and even with the speakers turned down he could tell which character he was playing. Mel was not the only voice talent on Schlesinger's payroll, but he was the most versatile. Voice actors rarely got screen credit in cartoons. When Mel thought he deserved a raise, he went to Schlesinger with his demands. Notoriously tight-fisted Schlesinger was not about to give up anything that would eat into his profits, but did agree to credit “Voice characterizations by Mel Blanc” on each cartoon.

Now that Mel's name was appearing on screens across the country, he began to get even more radio work. He became part of the company on The Jack Benny Program as a sort of human sound effects machine. He played Jack's barely-running Maxwell automobile and gave the growls of Jack's pet polar bear, Carmichael. One day Mel told Jack “Mr. Benny... I can talk too!” Jack told his writers to let him, and Mel became Polly the Parrot, a tormented department store clerk, Jack's long suffering violin teacher, and the announcer at the train station ("Train leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa and Cu... camonga!").

Mel had plenty of other radio work. He was the friendly postman on the Burns and Allen Show, as well as appearing on Fibber McGee and Molly, Abbot and Costello, and several AFRS programs. He gave voice to Yank magazine's Private Sad Sack. Mel's success on the Jack Benny Program helped him to get his own show on CBS. Unfortunately, Jack's writers did not come along, and the Mel Blanc Show only lasted the '46-'47 season.

Mel still had plenty to keep him busy. He even continued to work after an auto accident left him in a coma for three weeks (few people realize that for the first season of The Flintstones, Barney Rubble was played by a man in a full body cast!)

A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Blvd honors Mel Blanc for his work in radio.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 6: Happy Birthday, Jack Kirkwood


John Dunning, author of On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, called Jack Kirkwood a "comic's comic." This was due to Kirkwood's passion and dedication to the craft, his great work ethic, and his background banging out jokes for years on the vaudeville circuit.

The host of The Jack Kirkwood Show was born on this day in 1894. His show ran from '43-'53 under various named, and treated audiences to sketch comedy, including spoofs of Westerns and other genres of radio programs (this also according to Dunning).

The veteran comic made appearances all over the dial, trading wits with Bob Hope and Edgar Bergen, and also guesting on Ozzie and Harriet, Hallmark Playhouse, and Fibber McGee and Molly.

A happy birthday to Mr. Kirkwood!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 27: Happy Birthday, William Conrad



Thanks for stopping by to help us celebrate the birthday of quintessential radio character actor William Conrad, who entered the world in 1920.

If you're remembering Conrad as Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke you're probably in good company.  However, Conrad once estimated he'd played more than 7,500 roles.  How did he find the time?  We do know for sure that he appeared on Fibber McGee and Molly, Lux Radio Theater, Suspense.  He also spent a few years as the announcer for Escape, bringing listeners in and asking them if they'd like to get away.

Resembling Orson Welles, Conrad was deep-voiced, a rugged man's man.  He was also a mainstay in the world of classic radio.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16: Happy Birthday, Jim Jordan



Jim Jordan, one of the great--and pioneering--comedy minds of all time, was born on this day in  1896.

In his early days in radio, being able to perform as many voices as possible was important, and a way for a comic actor to maximize his earnings.  One of the first voices Jordan nailed down was an old man's, and from that he developed the character Luke Grey.  Radio aficionados and historians know that Luke Grey was the star of the 15-minute WMAQ program called "Smackout."  Grey was a corner store owner and teller of tall tales who would excuse his not having what the customer was looking for by saying he was "smack out."

Fibber McGee grew out of Luke Grey a few years later.  Phrases like "Tain't funny, McGee," and "You're a hard man, McGee" began to resound throughout the land, and the popular show ran from 1935-'59.  In addition to Jordan's title character and his wife Molly, the show gave us endearing characters such as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, Mayor LaTrivia, Beulah, Dr. George Gamble, Foggy Williams, and of course, Wallace Wimple.

Popular features of the show include Fibber's loaded and dangerous closet, his penchant for remembering a supposedly-glorious past, a longtime grudge against Otis Cadwallader, and all of the unfunny ("tain't funny, McGee") moments.

Happy birthday, Fib--uh, that is, Jim Jordan!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16: Happy Birthday, Marian Jordan

April 16: Happy Birthday, Marian Jordan

As a title for a program, Smackout has a distinctly current sound. It could be a particularly obnoxious reality show about to premier on MTV. Yet it was an early radio show from 1931 starring Marian and Jim Jordan, who we'd later know as Fibber McGee and Molly. And get this: the title came from a catch phrase "we're smack out of that" used by a character named Uncle Luke at his country store. The show ran four years, first on Chi-town's WMAQ and then on NBC. One fan was Ms. Henrietta Johnson Lewis, which trivia savants might know as a member of the family that owned the Johnson Wax Company, which would go on to sponsor Fibber. ("Look, Molly, there's no dull season for wax polish sales!")

Since we're celebrating the day of Marian's birth:. She was born in Peoria, IL in 1898 and sang in a Catholic choir. Doing so is, of course, a good way to meet men, with one example being Jim Jordan. Legend has it that the cute couple would reach out to grasp each other's hands at the end of broadcasts.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

Victor Borge was a Danish and American comedian affectionately known as “The Great Dane” and “The Clown Prince of Denmark.”

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Borge was a talented pianist. He spent much of his younger years learning and playing concerts. When the Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden and was able to escape to Finland. He traveled to America on the USS American Legion, the last ship to make it out of Petsamo, Finland.

Borge didn’t speak any English when he arrived in America, but he quickly learned by “studying” in movie theaters. Rudy Vallee offered him an opportunity on his radio show, and Borge soon became part of Kraft Music Hall. He also made many guest appearances on Command Performance, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jubilee, and Mail Call.

Victor never stopped working. He continued to perform and tour throughout his life. Even at the age of 90, Borge was still making 60 appearances a year.

Many of Borge’s performances had physical elements that were more suited for television and the stage than radio. He made many appearances on both throughout his storied career of almost 75 years.

Victor Borge, the melancholy Dane, passed away on December 23rd, 2000 at the age of 91.