Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22: Happy Birthday, Ann Sothern

January 22: Happy Birthday, Ann Sothern

The Adventures of Maisie crackled from radio speakers nationwide from 1945 to '52. It starred the vivacious Ann Sothern, who was born on this day in 1909. Star of film, television, and radio, Sothern may be best known for her Maisie character.

Maisie originated in the 1939 film of the same name. Maisie is a New York dancer who finds herself in adventures in Wyoming. The movie spawned a few sequels and then Sothern got to play the role in a radio adaptation of Maisie Was a Lady, produced by Lux Radio Theatre. A small empire was born, and the comic actress became a radio staple.

Like many talented lookers of the day, Sothern entertained the WWII troops and appeared at military hospitals. Reportedly, a plane was named Sothern Comfort in her honor.

She was a good friend of comedienne Lucille Ball. Ball once remarked, "the best comedienne in this business, bar none, is Ann Sothern."

Late in her life, Sothern retired to whence she had come, Ketchum, Idaho. She died in 2001.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 1927: The first Opera on radio network

January 21, 1927: On this day, national radio network broadcast the first opera that plays in Chicago,IL. Selections of Faust was performed for the listeners.

Faust was wrote by Charles Gounod and was a grand opera in five acts to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite. Faust was played for the first time at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859.

For additional classical and opera radio shows, see also:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 1954: The National Negro Network is founded

January 20, 1954: The National Negro Network was founded on this day and started its transmission with forty other classic radio stations as its network members.

The National Negro Network was the first black owned and operated radio show network. It had up to 45 affiliates. While the network tried its best to fill air-time, but it fell apart with the rise of the television.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 1929: The First Political - Gossip Broadcast by Walter Winchell

January 18, 1929: Walter Winchell, a New York Daily Mirror columnist that liked to blend political commentary with celebrity gossip, made his debut on radio on this day. He had many recognizable trademarks, including his jabbing, penetrating manner and his ever-present fedora hat.

Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator. His debut in journalism involved posting notes about his acting troupe on backstage bulletin boards for Vaudeville News in 1920. He continued his career as journalist at  Evening Graphic in 1924 before being hired by the New York Daily Mirror on June 10, 1929 as the author of  the first syndicated gossip column, On-Broadway.

He used his connections in the entertainment, social, and governmental realms to get stories. He made a living out of exposing exciting or embarrassing information about celebrities in those industries. This caused many people to avoid him for fear that Winchell would use the information that he gathered to ruin their careers. He would use the stories he uncovered as ammunition to attack his enemies and blackmail influential people. Walter Winchell exploited this power, trading positive mention in his column (and later, his radio show) for more rumors and secrets.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17: Happy Birthday, Betty White

January 17: Happy Birthday, Betty White

Recently made re-famous by a facebook campaign which 125,000 urged Saturday Night Live to have her as a host, Betty White is now on television ads and a ninety-one-year-old pop culture phenom. Many think of her as Rose Nylund in the popular 1980's television sitcom Golden Girls.

However, this Emmy-winning actress and former model also lent her charm to oldtime radio.
Casual fans may not remember, but Ms. White appeared on two known episodes of This Is Your FBI and three of Empire Builders.

The Empire Builder was a show chronicling adventures on a train by that name that traveled the nation. One of White's appearances was on Dec. 22, 1930, when she played a ten-year-old crippled orphan girl, Ann, who meets a wealthy bachelor.

She appeared on the "Big Buildup" episode of This Is Your FBI on Aug. 15, 1947, and on "Larcenous Bride" on Aug. 12, 1949. One wonders if she herself remembers these long-ago gigs. Let's do our part to keep the memory alive!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16, 1939: The Debut of the Radio Drama Series 'I Love a Mystery'

January 16th, 1939: NBC's West Coast Outlet aired the debut of I Love a Mystery on the radio on this day with the shrill siren call that became its trademark.

The series relates the story of three friends, Jack Packard, Reggie York, and Doc Long. They group met in China, where they worked as mercenary soldiers. When the three meet again in the city of San Francisco, California, they decid to form a detective agency. The agency leads them to all sorts of adventures in many different parts of the world.

In 1945, a movie of the same title was made, but did not include the character of Reggie. It was one of the first films that was based on a I Love a Mystery radio series.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 1945: House Party airs its debut on CBS

January 15, 1945: House Party continued on the air for 22 years, including a long stint on CBS television. Art Linkletter starred on the CBS debut of the program.

The project was sponsored by General Electric and ran from 1945 to 1967 on CBS before jumping to ABC.