Showing posts with label Mercury Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mercury Theatre. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6: Happy Birthday, Orson Welles



While standing out in the memories of most as being "the director of Citizen Kane," Orson Welles was a polymath and a practitioner of all mass media. As a filmmaker, Welles had a very keen visual sense, but he is also well-known for his deep and booming voice. This made him a natural for radio.

He entered the medium relatively early in a career that had been, at that point, one centered around drama. He'd established a theatre troupe called The Mercury Theatre, and before long he decided to expand this to an iteration for radio called Mercury Theatre on the Air. This 1938 series mostly adapted classic and contemporary dramatic works, but it was also the show on which the "War of the Worlds" blowup occurred. The attention from that got new sponsorship and a new iteration of the program, Campbell Playhouse. This series adapted such works as "Our Town," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Mutiny on the Bounty," and ran from December of '38 to March of '40.

During the late 30's and early 40's, even though Welles was not a big film star, and hadn't yet become famous as the director of Kane  his talent and iconic voice were recognized enough for him to be asked to make appearances on The Fred Allen Show and The Charlie McCarthy Show.

Other radio series Welles masterminded were Black Museum, This is My Best, Orson Welles' Almanac, and Ceiling Unlimited. He was born on this day in 1915.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1: Happy Birthday, Alice Frost


Before "Scooby Doo" or "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective," before PBS's "The Bloodhound Gang," came the original self-appointed crime-fighters, Mr. and Mrs. North. This dynamic duo, Jerry and Pam North of Greenwich Village, often ran around solving murders even though they weren't professional or trained detectives.

While Joseph Curtin played Mr., Mrs. was, of course, today's birthday girl, Alice Frost.

Early in Frost's career, she teamed with Walter O'Keefe in a comedy act, playing various characters. Before long, she was making appearances on some of the bigtime radio shows such as Lux Radio Theatre, Mercury Theatre, and The Campbell Playhouse. From there, it was the starring role in Big Sister and then her part in Mr. and Mrs. North. In addition, she played Martha Jackson on "Woman of Courage."

We salute the memorable character acting of Alice Frost!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11: Happy Birthday Gerald Mohr


On June 11, 1914, Gerald Mohr was born and appeared in radio, movies and television as one of the all-time favorite character actors. For 20 plus years, Mohr performed in radio as the tenacious gumshoe detective Philip Marlowe on radio in almost 120 radio plays.

Before this Gerald Mohr had been on a path towards becoming a doctor when he was stricken with an illness and taken to the hospital. During the stay he met a radio personality who invited him down to audition for an on-air position as a reporter. in the mid 1930’s he was invited by Orson Welles to join the Mercury Theatre.

By the late 30’s he had moved onto the screen as a villain in the Jungle Girl series. after his military time during WWII, Gerald Mohr began to perform in a number of hit westerns and other serial programs, which ran through the 1950’s. His screen presence made him a favorite to be cast as the tough guy or the murderous villain. His portfolio for hit shows grew until he was one of the most sought after actors to be in the weekly hits. He also made guest appearances on a few of the comedy hits as well, including the Jack Benny Show and George and Gracie. Mohr continued acting until 1969 when he was struck down by a heart attack while performing in Sweden.