Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5, 1935: Performance of Phil Spitalny's All-Girl Orchestra on CBS

January 5, 1935: Phil Spitalny's All-Girl Orchestra performed on The Hour of Charm program on CBS. There was also the unforgettable performance of Evelyn and her magic violin on that program.

Evelyn came from an audition of over 1000 female performers. Her violin play amazed the audience at that time. The orchestra consisted of twenty-two charming female musicians. They all played multiple instruments and sang in the choir. The idea of an all-female orchestra and choir was a novelty at the time and the show was a success.

For The Hour of Charm, all members of the All-Girl Orchestra and Choir had to sign a contract to remain unmarried for two years. Even Phil and the magical violinist Evelyn had to wait. The two were eventually married and retired to Florida.

Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4, 1928: The First The Dogge Victory Hour broadcast on radio

January 4, 1928: The Dogge Victory Hour, starring Will Rogers, Paul Whiteman with his orchestra. and singer Al Jolson, became the first variety show to be broadcast on the radio. The program cost $67,600 to produce, a sum equal to $842,266 in 2008.

The Dodge Victory Hour, debuted on NBC. The show was one of radio's first variety shows. The premiere was produced at a cost of $67,600.

The program was broadcast by 47 stations coast-to-coast, with Jolson in New Orleans, Stone in Chicago, and Whiteman in New York as hosts. On the program, a President was imitated on radio for the first, with  Will Rogers doing a Calvin Coolidge imitation.
The program was sponsored by Dodge's new Victory Six automobile and reached an estimated audience of 35 million, the largest since Charles Lindbergh's return in 1927. The New York Times wrote a headline the next day saying, "All America Used As a Radio Studio"".

Following its success, the second Dodge Victory Hour was broadcast on March 1928, once again with Hollywood stars and Whiteman's band. To reach an even larger audience, United Artists installed extra speakers in theaters.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

January 3: Happy Birthday, Victor Borge

Victor Borge was a Danish and American comedian affectionately known as “The Great Dane” and “The Clown Prince of Denmark.”

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Borge was a talented pianist. He spent much of his younger years learning and playing concerts. When the Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden and was able to escape to Finland. He traveled to America on the USS American Legion, the last ship to make it out of Petsamo, Finland.

Borge didn’t speak any English when he arrived in America, but he quickly learned by “studying” in movie theaters. Rudy Vallee offered him an opportunity on his radio show, and Borge soon became part of Kraft Music Hall. He also made many guest appearances on Command Performance, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jubilee, and Mail Call.

Victor never stopped working. He continued to perform and tour throughout his life. Even at the age of 90, Borge was still making 60 appearances a year.

Many of Borge’s performances had physical elements that were more suited for television and the stage than radio. He made many appearances on both throughout his storied career of almost 75 years.

Victor Borge, the melancholy Dane, passed away on December 23rd, 2000 at the age of 91.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 2, 1921: The first religous service broadcast on radio

January 2, 1921: Dr. E.J. Van Etten of Calvary Church to preach for the first time via radio KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That was the first religious broadcast that aired.

Two months after KDKA's first broadcast, KDKA aired the first religious service in the history of radio. It was a remote broadcast far from a radio studio held by Westinghouse form Pittsburgh's Calvary Episcopal Church. The junior pastor, Rev. Lewis B. Whittemore, preached. After that broadcast, KDKA soon presented a regular Sunday evening service from Calvary Episcopal Church. The senior pastor, Rev. Edwin Van Ettin, become the regular speaker. The program continued until 1962.

For more radio preachers, see also:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1: Happy Birthday, Dana Andrews

January 1: Happy Birthday, Dana Andrews

Dana Andrews is appropriately called “The Face of Noir.” Born on January 1st, 1909, Dana traveled as a young man to Los Angeles in 1931 to try to make it as a singer. The next nine years of his life were spent working numerous different jobs while he studied opera and acting.  He was sometimes best known for his radio role in I Was a Communist for the FBI.

Finally, Andrews was offered a contract by Sam Goldwyn in 1940. His first roles included The Westerner, Ball of Fire, and The Ox-Bow Incident. One of his most famous roles was an obsessed detective in the movie Laura, a part he would reprise on radio on both Lux Radio Theater and Screen Guild Players. He also starred as a crooked cop in Where the Sidewalk Ends and as a soldier returning home in The Best Years of Our Lives, a part he played again on the radio program Screen Directors' Playhouse.

Alcoholism took hold of Dana and his career in the 1950’s, He was relegated to mostly B-movies. Andrews would make several more guest appearances on radio, and even star in the program I Was a Communist for the FBI for over 70 episodes.

Andrews was finally able to get his alcoholism under control thanks to the discipline of fellow actor Ronald Reagan.

Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 1929: Recall of New Years Eve at Roosevelt Hotel Grill

December 31, 1929: For the first time CBS broadcast on its network, the radio New Years Eve of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians from Roosevelt Grill in New York City. In the future this is become an annual event.

Guy Lombardo, age 37, and his band, the Royal Canadians performed at the Roosevelt Hotel Grill in New York City for the first time at a two-tiered room with a second dance floor. They played Auld Lang Syne, later on the song  became America's signature song on New Year's Eve. The venue would become a mainstay until the Roosevelt closed in 1959; and Lombardo and the Royal Canadians moved to the Waldorf Astoria.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30, 1942: 'Mr. and Mrs. North' had their debut on NBC

December 30, 1942: Mr. and Mrs. North aired for the first time on NBC. "The Way You Look Tonight" was the title song for the show. Joseph Curtin was played by Jerry North and Alice Frost starred as Pam. The program was sponsored by Jergens lotion, Woodbury soap, and Halo shampoo. Every episode, Pam would rightly lead police to the lawbreakers.

The original version of "The Way You Look Tonight"  was penned by Jerome Kern and the lyrics were provided by Dorothy Fields. Fred Astaire was the original performer of the song, which has spawned more than a dozen covers to this day.  The song earned Fred Astaire in Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. The popularity of the song during those years might have been the reason why it was chosen as the theme song for the show.