Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21: Happy 91st Birthday, Kay Starr

“The only white woman that sing the blues” was Kay Starr. Praised this way by Billie Holiday, one of the great jazz singers of her time; Kay Starr still lives and is remembered as one of the all-time shining performers of her early days. Kay Starr’s light began to shine on July 21, 1922 when she entered this world. In did not matter the musical genre; Miss Starr made a name for herself as a mainstay in any of them, vocally. At the age of seven, Kay Starr made her singing debut on radio station WRR in Dallas Texas. After winning a couple of this contests on the program, she was given her own 15 minute segment program to showcase her the age of 10. Through the years, Miss Starr performed with various bands and recorded for various labels; Victor and Capitol records to name a couple. She has sung with names like Pat Boone and Count Basie. In the late 60’s she performed on radio again singing on the America’s Popular Music program. Some of her all time hits have included Wheel of Fortune, Rock and Waltz and The Man Upstairs. She could be heard on-air on The Great Gildersleeve show a few times in her early years. To think that this long history of making wonderful music and bringing merry to the hearts of millions all began with a young girl serenading a bunch of barnyard chickens. Kay Starr is truly a one of America’s finest.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19, 1948: Eve Arden starred as the sardonic 'Our Miss Brooks'

July 19, 1948: Our Miss Brooks went on air for the first time on CBS. It featured Gale Gordon and Eve Arden.

Our Miss Brooks was a radio sitcom that featured Eve Arden as the title character. The series also had television and film adaptations, which ran from 1952-1956 and in 1956, respectively.

Eve Arden was not the original choice for the role of Miss Brooks. CBS' director of programming from the West Coast wanted Shirley Booth to be the show's lead star, but they decided not to proceed with her.  Their next choice, Lucille Ball, was already hired to portray the lead female role for the series My Favorite Husband.

Bill Paley, the then chairman of the CBS network and a good friend of Eve Arden, encouraged her to audition for that role, which she eventually won.

Arden's role in Our Miss Brooks allowed her to win Radio Mirror magazine's poll for the best comedienne of 1948-1949.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18: Happy Birthday, Harriet Nelson

Harriet Hilliard was born on July 18, 1909 and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. Later on as she got involved in vaudeville, she became a part of the band that Ozzie Nelson was band leading. They became a married couple a few years later and thus began the Nelson fame of Harriet Nelson through the years. Although she had a comfortable career as a film actress under the Hilliard name; she felt it important to move on to handle her work with Ozzie in the band subsequent radio program. In 1944, Harriet began working with Ozzie on the The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, dealing with the everyday life raising 2 sons (David and Ricky). It took some time before the boys were actually able to perform as themselves for the radio show. early on, the rambunctious sons were portrayed by radio actors. The radio antics of this program grew so popular that ABC Television brought them on board to continue their program. Harriet Nelson brought a sense of stability to Ozzie’s impetuous character on the program. Harriet Nelson was so popular as a typical American wife and mother, that she often drew comments and questions from women seeking her advice. Harriet Nelson died in 1994 of congestive heart failure. Her husband and son Ricky (who was killed in a plane crash) preceded her in death and David passed away in 2011. Harriet Nelson still shines as every mother’s ideal.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17: Happy Birthday, James Cagney

You'd have to be a dirty rat to not be familiar with the iconic work of James Cagney, one of Hollywood's notorious and beloved tough guys. He displayed the clench-jawed delivery of his famous lines in such classic films as The Roaring Twenties, Little Caesar, Mister Roberts, and The Public Enemy.

The New York-born son of a bar tender, Cagney also toured in magnificent performances on some of our most beloved radio programs, including Lux Radio Theater, Screen Guild Theatre, and The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre. In this capacity, he starred in several dramas, including some in which he'd already starred in on the silver screen, such as Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Strawberry Blonde, and Angels With Dirty Faces.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16: Happy Birthday, Ginger Rogers

The Rogers of Astaire and Rogers was born July 16, 1911. The lovely Ginger Rogers was a  captivating dancer and actress would perform more than 10 movies with Fred Astaire and be a romantic focus of his as well. Born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence Missouri, Ginger would grow up with her grandparents in Kansas City. During this time her mother worked in Hollywood writing scripts. Due to the fact one of her cousins could not properly pronounce her first name, she took on the nickname of “Ginga’.” “Ginga’” moved to Texas where where her mother was working as a theatre critic for a Fort Worth newspaper. During this time, Miss Rogers became fascinated with the stage and started to learn to sing and dance. She became involved vaudeville and the stage, performing in a number of productions. One of her most memorable was Girl Crazy, where she met the choreographer, Fred Astaire, for the first time. By 1929 she had moved onto Hollywood and became a film performer. During the years of 33-39 she made a number of films with Astaire as her dancing partner. Rogers made a number of guest appearances on radio. her academy award winning Kitty Foyle was a showpiece on Lux Radio Theatre. She also made appearances on Command Performance, Screen Guild Theatre, G.I. Journal and Suspense. Ginger Rogers had as much presence on-air as she did on the motion picture screen. She was married five times, but never to Fred Astaire. She loved to perform, be involved in civics and enjoyed people. She left this world in 1995 of a heart attack. She had danced her last earthly dance.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12, 1946: The Adventure of Sam Spade airs on ABC

July 12, 1946: ABC aired the Adventures of Sam Spade for the first time.

In this summer replacement series, Howard Duff starred as the radio detective from San Francisco. In 1930,  Sam Spade  appeared first time for the Dashiel Hammett novel ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and original film version of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ was featuring by Ricardo Cortez in 1931. In 1941, Humprey Bogart performed as Sam Spade in this movie.

Enjoy this 1948 Sam Spade radio broadcast of "Hot Hundred Grand Caper":

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9: Happy Birthday, Hans von Kaltenborn

July 9, 1878 was the entrance of Hans von Kaltenborn, or better known as HV Kaltenborn. This American radio commentator had the intellectual mind and the voice for diction. He was destined to be a top choice for radio news reporting. Growing up in Wisconsin, Kaltenborn planned on a career in news reporting starting out as a newspaper reporter.

His ability to retain information and keen understanding for world affairs would profit him greatly in the years to come. CBS radio was keen to bring kaltenborn aboard as a radio reporter covering Europe and the Far East. Besides reporting the news, he would offer commentary and analysis to the situations; making him one of the first in his field. One radio historian said this of Kaltenborn, “Kaltenborn was known as a commentator who never read from a script. His "talks" were extemporaneous created from notes he had previously written.”

In 1940, he moved over to NBC and in 1948 had one of his first gaffes in reporting. Kaltenborn predicted Dewey the winner in the Presidential elections;although Harry S Truman would eventually receive the victory. He handle his mistake with class and decorum. He left broadcasting in 1953; still adding color commentary at times for upcoming elections. HV Kaltenborn would portray himself in two motion pictures; including James Stewart’s lead in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In June of 1965, Kaltenborn passed away. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2011.