Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22: Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Today's birthday commemoration goes out to the renowned author Ray Bradbury. About sixty years before the "Green" movement, meant to stave off the destruction of the natural Earth, Bradbury set his stories in Green Town, an analogy for his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Green Town was green and inviting and nurturing, yet also the setting for fantastic events like an uncle growing wings and carnivals bringing characters with supernatural powers. 

It's no surprise that Bradbury's weird tales in the science fiction genre were adapted for radio, by programs such as Dimension X, X Minus One and Suspense. But did you know that at the tender age of fourteen, the future author of Fahrenheit 451 got his first paying gig as a writer for the Burns and Allen Show? That's right, loyal listeners.

Bradbury did something very unique and quirky in his literary career. Feeling the world needed a journal devoted just to his works, he published Futuria Fantasia, with almost all the work being written by him. He used pseudonyms to hide this, though. This was in 1938, when he was a whipper-snapper just graduating high school. We salute you, Ray Bradbury!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20: Happy Birthday, Jack Teagarden

It's our pleasure to wish a happy birthday to trombonist Jack Teagarden. If you're a fan of classics like "Them There Eyes," "Lazy River," and "Jeepers Creepers," you're a fan of Jack Teagarden, who helped bring those tunes to life on the airwaves as a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The outfit's radio show was called The Old Gold/Paul Whiteman Hour, its rival B.A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Orchestra.

The barrel-chested Teagarden is recognized as one of the all-time greats in the world of jazz; he was a great trombonist and also served as a vocalist, with a distinctive style that would grow to be influential.

His playing style was versatile, jazz at its heart but tending toward blues. Some of this may be due to his self-taught nature. Finally, let's not neglect to mention the songs Teagarden penned: "Shake Your Hips," "Swingin' On The Teagarden Gate," and, with Benny Goodman, "Texas Tea Party."

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19: Happy Birthday, William Clinton

Who was President Clinton? A far-left liberal? A proponent of socialized healthcare? An interesting boss for an intern? A great president for the economy? The man who helped inspire a generation of right-wing radio hosts? 

Perhaps all of those and more. But we know he was an outstanding speaker, his voice rising and falling, passionate, sometimes angry, sometimes carrying a verbal smile.

Like all presidents from FDR onward, Clinton appeared on the airwaves as a way of keeping us informed and/or getting his message out. His southern twang gave us many state of the union addresses, tried to calm us after the tragedy at Oklahoma City, discussed airstrikes in Iraq,
and addressed the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He may have appeared on MTV during his successful first campaign, but he also used the radio, and for that, we wish him a happy birthday.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15: Happy Birthday, Ethel Barrymore

Born (in 1879) into a world with no movies or television or radio, Ethel Barrymore still had something in her genetic code predisposing her to a career in the performing arts. Both of her parents were stage actors, and her brothers Lionel and John would choose that craft as well.

Before her 1959 death, the theater star was able to make some high-quality appearances on radio. She managed to log time on quite a few of the big-name shows, including Screen Guild Theater, Suspense, Big Show, and Suspense. On the latter, she played a woman frightened by a psychotic handyman.

One of the first generation of the Barrymore dynasty, Ethel Barrymore gets today's birthday wish!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14, 1942 : 'The Show Without A Name' debuted on NBC

August 14, 1942: Garry Moore presented The Show Without a Name on NBC. It's aim was to tone down the morning show supremacy of Don McNeil's Breakfast Club on ABC and Arthur Godfrey on CBS. An award of $500 was offered to title the show, and the prize was won by someone giving the title Everything Goes.

In the hopes of averting the continued popularity of the morning show Breakfast Club on ABC and other shows elsewhere, CBS put up a challenge by airing its own show during the same time slot. The program, which at first was titled The Show Without a Name offered $500 to anyone who could give a nice name to the new show, hosted by Garry Moore. After picking the winner, the show was later renamed Everything Goes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13: Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock

Today marks the birth--in 1899--of Alfred Hitchcock.  One of the greatest American film directors of all time, Hitchcock also turned in some magnificent performances on oldtime radio.  Highly versatile, Alfred did radio work as a director, writer, and guest.

In 1950, he appeared on Screen Directors' Playhouse, introducing the story, "Lifeboat," and interviewing the actors afterward.  In 1956, he co-starred with Doris Day on a Close To Your Heart edition entitled "Alfred Hitchcock Presents Doris Day."  Also of note is an interview show on Philadelphia's WCAU radio's The Talk of Philadelphia (Mar. 26, '63), on which the director answered two women's question of what he looks for in a woman.