Saturday, February 20, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15: Happy Birthday, John Barrymore

February 15: Happy Birthday, John Barrymore

Drew Barrymore's grandfather, yes, but John Barrymore was also a theatre actor lauded for his performance as the title character in Hamlet on Broadway (1922) and for his roles in the films Don Juan, Dinner at Eight, Twentieth Century and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

His radio life included many appearances on The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour (The Rudy Vallee Show), most of them in 1941. His last performance was on the May 5, 1942 episode of the show. It was at a rehearsal for Vallee's show later in the year that he collapsed and went into a coma.

A brief life of hard-drinking ended for Barrymore on May 29, 1942. Depending on who one believes, his dying words were either "Die?...No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him," or "you heard me, Mike."

The oldtime radio world salutes John Barrymore on the day of his birth in 1882.

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12: Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln

February 12: Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln

What is Honest Abe, the man on the penny, doing on a site devoted to classic radio? Here's the secret. Here's the answer to the mystery. Not only is Abraham Lincoln still regularly written about, re-imagined, investigated, and portrayed (see the new film, Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg), but he was particularly popular as a subject for radio plays.

For one ready example, the popular show Cavalcade of America gave us a cavalcade of no less than eight original documentaries on Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Ann Rutledge and Lincoln, Mr. Lincoln's Wife and others.

In 1953, Crime Classics devoted its attentions to the assassination of our fourteenth president.
The revered You Are There looked at the same topic in July, 1947, and covered the Battle of Gettysburg in 1948 and the capture of John Wilkes Booth in 1949. Maybe you were there for these original broadcasts.

At any rate, it's still possible to snag copies of some of the old shows devoted to Abe, The Great Emancipator.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6, Happy Birthday, Babe Ruth

February 6, Happy Birthday, Babe Ruth

George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore, MD on this day, 1895. The Sultan of Swat was, yes, one of the greats to play for the New York Yankees, but was also a figure in classic radio.

One component of the Babe Ruth radio life was a fifteen-minute show called "The Adventures of Babe Ruth," which aired on the Blue Network from Apr 16-Jul 13, 1934. A Navy recruiting tool greeting listeners with "Plaay balll!" the program featured the voices of various sports writers and others who would tell a story coming from the life of the Babe. Each episode got its title from one of the main figures in the story, Dutch Reaver, Dusty Collins, usually some obscure figure who had some tie-in with the Great Bambino.

The Babe was known for his home-run hitting abilities, his booming voice and similar personality, and his knack for generally living as a hero to Yankees fans and to children nationwide.