Saturday, October 10, 2015
The First Lady of American Theater, the first stage actress to go on to win an Academy Award, Helen Hayes was born on this day in 1900. Helen Hayes starred in Victoria Regina, The Sin of Madelon Claudet and Happy Birthday.
In 1941, she took the helm as producer, actress and even casting director of the CBS radio series The Helen Hayes Theatre of the Air, a series running contemporary plays.
Hayes starred in a 1938 Lux Radio Theatre production of Jane Eyre and turned in appearances on a wide variety of classic radio series such as The Campbell's Playhouse, The Silver Theatre, and Dupont Cavalcade of America. Radio gave us all the big stars of the 30's, 40's, and 50's, delivered as just a voice to let our imaginations fill in the rest. Helen Hayes was just one shining example.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
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, August 6, 2013
Bios of Lucille Ball abound, and most people know at least a little bit about the famed comedienne. But on the occasion of her birthday, we get a chance to look at her contributions to oldtime radio.
Her first big break was the chance to star in the radio program My Favorite Husband along with Richard Denning. The two played a Minneapolis couple, with Lucille's character Liz, being a goofball housewife. She signed each time with a cordial "Jell-O, everybody," to plug the sponsor, General Foods' Jell-O. The show would later make the jump to television.
But what a lot of people may not realize is that she also made the rounds as a guest on just about any radio show you can name: The Kraft Music Hall, Screen Guild Theatre, Mail Call, The Campbell Playhouse, and The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre to name a few.
Many things to many people, Lucille Ball was a giant of old time radio. Happy birthday, Lucille!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
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!
Thursday, February 7, 2013
February 7: Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens
We salute the author of A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, David Copperfield, and many other classics because so many of his works were adapted into radio plays.
If you can recall sitting on the floor with the fire crackling nearby, your mom sorting her coupons at the coffee table, and radio actors giving voice to great Dickens dramas, here's what you're remembering, specifically:
- A Tale of Two Cities on Lux Radio Theatre, 1942, 1945, and 1946
- Great Expectations on Theatre Guild, 1953
- David Copperfield on Theatre Guild, 1950
- A Christmas Carol on Campbell Playhouse, 1939
- Dickens' work was also presented on Suspense, Richard Diamond, Escape and Lights Out.
Imagine turning on commercial radio today and hearing classic literature instead of gossip about Miley Cyrus or the latest hit song by Justin Bieber.