Showing posts with label orson welles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label orson welles. Show all posts

Friday, May 6, 2016

May 6, 1915 Orson Welles was born


On this day in 1915, Orson Welles was born.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5: Happy Birthday, William Spier

A happy birthday this time, not to an actor or a commander of the microphone, but to a writer and producer, William Spier.  Lovers of Adventures of Sam Spade and Suspense have enjoyed the good work of Spier.

Born today in 1906, Spier started his writing career as a critic for the magazine Musical America.  After foraying into radio in 1929, he decided he'd like to stay in the medium a bit longer. He got a job as a director of the news show The March of Time.  It began as a WLW (Cincinnati) program that gave voice to materail from Time magazine.  It eventually evolved into The March of Time, on which talented actors dramatized the day's big news stories.  Spiers got a chance to work with huge stars such as Everett Sloane, Orson Welles, Lionel Barrymore, Nancy Kelly, and Joseph Cotten.

From there, it was a stint as the chief of the writing department at CBS, a gig that led to his producership of Suspense and then The Adventures of Sam Spade.

So let's salute this talented behind-the-scenes man.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20: Happy Birthday, Arlene Francis



Today marks the day on which, in 1907, "What's My Line" regular Arlene Francis was born.

Francis was a New York native and a Finch College graduate, who achieved a relatively painless entry into show business. Her first big play appearance was when she was a mere 21, and she would go on to act in 25 Broadway plays.

Radio-wise, the fetching starlet joined the cast of the intelligent and challenging game show "What's My Line?"  The show was hosted by John Charles Daly and featured, along with Francis, high-brow personages such as Bennett Cerf and Dorothy Kilgallen.

One thing to recall about "What's My Line?" is that in addition to the main guessing game, the panelists also attempted to divine the identity of a mystery guest at the show's end.  MG's included Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich and a host of others.

Thanks for the memories, Arlene!

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17: Happy Birthday, Rita Hayworth



A dancer as a child and actress and sex symbol as an adult, Rita Hayworth was born Margerita Carmen Cansino on this day in 1918.

Star of Gilda, Pal Joey, and Separate Tables, the stunning brunette was also once married to Orson Welles and romantically involved with Prince Aly Khan, Aga Khan's son.

But let's allow others to worry about her lovelife, her scandals and intrigues.  We're here to celebrate her radio performances: there were many.  She appeared on The Lux Radio Theatre, Gulf Screen Guild Theatre, The Pepsodent Show (hosted by Bob Hope), Suspense, and Command Performance.  On these top-flight shows, she acted alongside Cary Grant, Cecil B. DeMille, George Burns, and Angela Lansbury.

Hayworth was dashing and sensual, and has been recognized by collective memory as one of the great film actresses of all time.

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.

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1: Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter


Perhaps not quite as funny as George Burns or Jim Jordan; not possessed of the voice of Orson Welles; maybe not as bracing a presence as Vincent Price.  But then again, Jimmy Carter never tried to be a radio star.  He wanted to make a difference in the lives of the poor, the working class, Americans in general and humankind across the globe.  He was the 39th U.S. President, deep into the tradition of the weekly radio broadcast and a couple of decades before Twitter.

In March of 1977, Carter used the existing technology to try to anticipate the immediacy and open access of today's social media.  He hosted a live radio program entitled "Ask President Carter," allowing everyday folks to ask him unscreened questions.  More people seem to remember the Saturday Night Live parody starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.

Available recordings of Carter's speeches include remarks of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran, and issues involving importation of oil from the Middle East.

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.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3: Happy Birthday, Norman Corwin


Today we salute an innovative and pioneering writer and producer, Norman Corwin. In 2011, Corwin died at the age of 101. He is known for his production of the broadcast "On a Note of Triumph," which trumpeted the Allied victory in World War II.

In 1938, Corwinbegan his noteworthy radio program Words Without Music. One of his next endeavors was Columbia Presents Corwin, which took flight in March of 1944. Corwin wrote the original scripts for the programs, each of which was a documentary-style look at the topic at hand. The inaugural episode was "Movie Primer," which looked at some of the pomposity of the movie business. For his thoughtful, high-quality programs, he tapped into the Rolls Royce of available talent: Charles Laughton, Orson Welles, and Everett Sloane, to name a few.

A later work of distinction was American in England, in which Corwin conducted man-on-the-street interviews with British folks during World War II.

Corwin would go on to win many awards and distinctions, ultimately making it into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23: Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare's biggest claim to fame was...being William Shakespeare. He was born on this day in 1564, so let's take a moment to celebrate performances of Shakespeare works on old time radio.

Orson Welles was a lover of the classics who cut his teeth as a stage actor acting in several Shakespeare classics. He produced and directed several, including some for the Federal Theatre Project in the early 1930's. On the air, he brought Shakespeare to life on his program Columbia Workshop, with adaptations of Hamlet and As You Like It.

Shakespeare's plays were adapted on such programs as I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, Suspense, and Theatre Guild. References to Shakespeare characters and phrases inspired titles of episodes of Gunsmoke, First Nighter, and Favorite Story. He is too big a figure in arts and literature not to have made his imprint on old time radio. Happy Birthday, Bard.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 4: Happy Birthday, Frances Langford


With episode titles like "Family Picnic," "College Days," "Cleaning the House," and "Performing MacBeth," The Frances Langford Show sounds like Ozzie and Harriet with just a splash of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre on the Air tossed in just to keep things interesting.

The gorgeous singer hosted the show only through the crazy Summer of 1947--it was a Summer replacement for The Burns and Allen Show. The half-hour show featured Langford crooning such numbers as "I'm Always Blowing Bubbles," "Almost Like Being In Love," and "When You're Cryin'."

Langford grew up in Lakeland, FL, which probably makes it a bit unlikely that she was trained as an opera singer. She changed her style to Big Band after a tonsillectomy, and her radio and stage careers began to develop in parallel.

She was a regular on The Rudy Vallee Show. She was born on this day in 1913, and lived until 2005.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16: Happy Birthday, Edgar Bergen

February 16: Happy Birthday, Edgar Bergen


Where would Charlie McCarthy have been without Edgar Bergen? Edgar Bergen was one of the biggest legends of radio along with his ventriloquist's dummy, Charlie McCarthy. They weren't the first performers who got their radio start as guests on Rudy Vallee's show. For them it was Dec. 17, 1936. It quickly landed them their own show.

Wait a minute. A ventriloquist on the radio? You can't see the dummy! The utter improbability of the act makes their accomplishment even more stunning. For the duo became just about the biggest stars on the air and they had big stars on guests as their show.

Incidentally, on the night of the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast of Orson Welles, which caused a panic over a supposed Martian invasion, Bergen and McCarthy were also on the air. If they'd had less listeners, the panic may have been much bigger. Happy birthday, Edgar!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 1930: The First Holmes' Show on Radio Featured by William Gillete


October 20, 1930: Among one of the most unforgettable radio shows, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, made its debut airing over NBC Red network on this date. William Gillette, in the role of the famous detective, was featured in the show's first entry of "The Speckled Band". New York audiences met Holmes through Gillette on the stage as early as 1899.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes were very popular as adaptations for the stage, film, and television.
Created by the Scottish author Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, DL (1859-1930), the Sherlock Holmes stories were a major innovation in crime fiction.

With each adaptation of these stories, the actors brought their own spin to the character. William Gillette was the great popularizer of Holmes who took the role to a new medium. The program continued off and on since Gillette's rendition on a variety of networks: NBC (1930-33) (1934-36) (1955), Blue Network (1939-42), Mutual Network (1943-46), (1947-49), ABC (1946-47) (1949-50) (1956), BBC (1954, and many more years), and BBC-WFMT Chicago (1959-69).

One of more famous radio appearances starred Orson Welles as Sherlock Holmes in an adaptation of one of William Gillette's plays. This was broadcast in September 1938 as part of the ""Mercury Theater on the Air"" series on CBS Radio.