Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25: Happy Birthday, Charlotte Greenwood!

It is one thing to be able to look a giraffe in the eye...but to kick one? That was the self-professed irony of one Charlotte Greenwood.

Born in June of 1890, Frances Charlotte Greenwood stood 6 feet tall and was an acclaimed dancer and actress. Her lengthy reach with her legs made her a favorite for choreography selections, being able to kick high and gracefully. The celebrated comedienne would grace the screen of the notable musical, “Oklahoma” in 1955 as Aunt Eller.

However, before her run as a screen actress, Ms Greenwood completed a successful run on radio with her own program which ran as a situational comedy for the airwaves. From 1941-1946, The Charlotte Greenwood Show stood the test of time and became an American favorite during a time of world wide hostilities. Families groomed their time around the radio to listen to This effervescent diva of celebrated humor and tale. As Aunt Charlotte she was full of bits and pieces of wisdom playing nursemaid to the three barton children. Charlotte Greenwood would be married twice in her life. In 1977, at the age of 87, she left this world of unknown causes. Having lived a life that brought so much happiness to so many, Aunt Charlotte finally said goodnight.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24: Happy Birthday, Phil Harris

On June 24 of 1904, Baloo...well the voice of Baloo...was born. Phil Harris (first name Wonga) was an actor, jazz musician, singer, comedian and so many other talents. Raised in Tennessee, Harris began his foray into entertainment as a drummer for a circus. 

He later formed a band that many runs at the St. Francis Hotel. Following a dissolution of the band, Harris formed a new band that still exists to this day. Through the 1930’s, Phil Harris made recordings for a variety of major labels, including Columbia, Decca and Victor. From the 30’s through the 50’s, Harris would be cast alongside some of the big names in the industry, like Walter Brennan. 

He also performed in a film that also created Flying Down to Rio, which set in motion a couple of top names in Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. During the 1930’s, Harris made his radio debut by being the Musical Director and comic relief for the Jack Benny Program. The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show also spent time on the airwaves as a coast to coast favorite. 

His southern charm and accent played to the masses in this period of Americana. That was due in large part to the fact harris knew how to reach to the heart of people and not be stand-offish. Married to Alice Faye much of his adult life, Harris would go on to do television and host celebrity golf matches. Harris passed away in 1995 and his wife three years later. It was said that Harris loved his southern beginnings...well, America loved Phil Harris.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 1941: Mutual welcomed 'Front Page Farell'

 
June 23, 1941: Heard for the first time on Mutual, Front Page Farrell moved to NBC in 1942 and remained on air until 1954. The central characters were Sally and David Farrell.

The show featured David Farell, a reporter with dashing looks who impulsively married Sally. Such marriage was intended to save Sally from marrying someone who was twice her age.Together, they have solved cases, reporting gigs, and the likes. In WWII, it was said that the Office of War and information has provided some themes for the show.


Enjoy this 1949 broadcast of "Fatal Smile":

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22: Happy Birthday, Paul Frees

June 22, 1920 was when American voice and character actor Paul Frees was born. Born Solomon Hersh Frees, his voice range that covered multiple octave levels made Frees a popular pick for voice characterizations over 40 years.

 To this day, some of his voice offerings can be found in the Disney company of entrees, including Walt Disney World. Beginning in 1942, Frees would extend his voice to cartoons, and other venues of entertainment...including commercials.

While beginning a career in radio, Frees was drafted into WWII and fought in the European theatre. Injured in Normandy, he would would convalescent for a year at home. His return to radio would endear him to millions of Americans as a voice actor in such popular programs as Gunsmoke and Suspense Theatre. In fact, if actor William Conrad was not the voice narration, Paul Frees would be heard giving the voice to Suspense. In the radio drama The Player , Frees handled all the parts; cast and storyteller.

Paul Frees talent ran into handling various dialects and into narration. Disney loved using Frees because of the versatility of his vocal talents. He would be the voice of Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, portraying a solid rendition actor James Mason’s voice...the performer from the movie. In the 1959 Disney hit, The Shaggy Dog, Frees came on -board the filming for a bit part as a psychiatrist. This was an example of the few times America actually caught a glimpse of the actor that was a voice of a thousand parts.

In November of 1986, Paul Frees lost his life to a heart attack at the age of 66. Whether it was hearing the snobbish Von Drake or the Little Green Pea of Green Giant commercials, America lost a talented voice.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21: Happy Birthday, Jane Russell

On June 21 of 1921, Ernestine Jane Russell was born and thus began a story and life that was the envy of millions of women and eye-catching of men. Miss Russell made her movie debut in 1943 when she filmed “The Outlaw”.

A famous pose of her stretched out on hay and holding a revolver was an instant pin-up hit for servicemen everywhere. Her obvious physical traits notwithstanding, Miss Russell drew the attention for her acting ability that would garner her much success in the years to follow.

However, she was a versatile performer as a singer as well and her talent was added to a number of films. She performed with Kay Kyser and his band for radio by creating two hit singles, “As Long As I Live” and “Boin-n-n-ng”.

Her 1948 hit movie The Paleface with Bob Hope, was broadcast for radio on Screen Director’s Playhouse in 1950. She also would record for Columbia a number of ballads that allowed America to hear her talents rather than simply focus upon her body shape.

Jane Russell was big on keeping things appropriate when men mused about her physical stature and always tried to maintain a modicum of decency in her dress. Although a few jokes were focused upon her womanliness, Miss Russell never felt her looks should be her legacy. Married three times and having adopted 3 children, Jane Russell also was a registered Republican and devout Christian.

In February of 2011, Jane Russell passed away at the age of 89 and left behind an admirable movie history.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20: Happy Birthday, Errol Flynn

June 20 of 1909, Robin Hood and Captain Blood was born in the visage of Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn.

Born and raised in Australia, the entrepreneur turned performer made his way to the USA via time performing theatre and movie work in England. Flynn made a major impression upon the American scene for motion pictures due to his swarthy good looks and care-free attitude to life. It was during his short, but action-filled life that Errol Flynn created the roles of Captain Blood, Don Juan and Robin Hood.

His sword-play was considered some of the best Hollywood magic of the time and earned him more roles as a 200.000 dollar a film performer. Flynn was able to handle less swash-buckling of on-screen roles in war and western themed motion pictures.

During the 1940’s Errol Flynn attempted to serve the country that had made him famous by trying to enlist, but heart and health issues prevented that from happening. However, in 1937 he did serve as a reporter during the Spanish Civil War and used the 40’s and 50’s to write his autobiography and other works. Errol Flynn’s voice was so distinctive that he did some some characterizations for the radio airwaves.

 In fact, his characterizations made him a favorite for work on The Cavalcade of America and Lux Radio Theatre radio programs. These programs were a few of his more notable movie roles scripted for the airwaves. Flynn was married three times and had one son (later declared missed and dead in Cambodia) and a number of daughters.

  Errol Flynn passed away in 1959 from a heart attack at the young age of 50.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 1939: CBS airs 'The Adventures of Ellery Queen'

 
June 18, 1939: The Adventures of Ellery Queen, which was aired for the first time by CBS, had an interesting twist towards the end of the program. The show was then stopped to allow a panel of experts to guess the solution of the night's mystery.

The show was a crime/detective series, which starred Hugh Marlowe as Ellery Queen, a character described as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson rolled into one. Ellery Queen was a character created by cousins Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee.

Enjoy this 1947 broadcast of the series: