Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 1943: 'The Adventures of Archie Andrews' first heard on NBC Blue

May 31, 1943: The Adventures of Archie Andrews was a comic strip sitcom that came on radio, and was he aired on the NBC Blue network. The radio sitcom was based on Bob Montana's comic strip about Archie Andrews and his teen-age pals. They moved to Mutual Broadcasting in January 1944, and then to NBC in June 1945. Archie, Veronica and the gang stayed on radio for about ten years.

"The Adventure of Archie Andrews" was a 15-minute radio series aired daily on NBC Blue. For a brief period, it was aired in a different timeslot, every Saturday mornings for 30 minutes. When it transferred to Mutual in 1944, the it was broadcast again during weekdays. From its debut up to 1994, the series fared pretty well, although it was only in 1945 when it rated extremely high due to the introduction of new characters. The actors that portrayed  Archie Andrews  include Jack Grimes, Charles Mullen, and Bob Hastings.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30, 1922: The First Show of Ed McConnel on radio

May 30, 1922: 'Smiling' Ed McConnell started his debut on radio with smiled and played his banjo. In the future he becomes a legend on the medium.

Ed McConnell was heard  for the first time over WJZ, At one time, he was heard on 15 minute program that sponsored by the Air Conditioning Training Corporation of Youngstown, Ohio at 10:30am.

McConnell attracted youngsters when he created the Froggy the Gremlin character accompanied by Irma Allen's play on the organ or Del Owen on the piano. Although kids known McConnell as "Smilin' Ed," he kept continue his religious program for adults.

While the Buster Brown Show was running, Ed presented a five-minute show sponsored by the American Poultry Journal. The show was broadcast by over 50 stations. Another Smilin' Ed show that turned up for a while was a 15-minute program sponsored by the Purity Baking Company.

For his work in radio, he got a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he continued on television from 1950 until his death of a heart attack in 1954. Andy Devine then took over the show for another couple of years, and "Smilin' Ed's Gang" became "Andy's Gang."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29: Happy Birthday, Bob Hope

I don't know, I think Leslie Townes Hope would be a great name for a comedian and all-around show biz icon. LT Hope, perhaps. But we know the man born on this day in 1903 not by his birth name but as Bob Hope. Self-effacing but razor-sharp, wholesome but with a racy edge, Hope had wide appeal and will go down in history as one of the top comedians of the twentieth century.

Like all the big stars of the Depression and World War II eras, Hope was versatile enough to thrive in various media: film and radio, and later television. His biting monologues sizzled on the airwaves to American homes on The Pepsodent Show. He then began broadcasts on military bases, entertaining overseas troops, something for which he would go on to be best known.

1943 would take Hope into perilous locales in Sicily, Ireland, Africa, and England, with his USO troupe made up of Jack Pepper, Tony Romano, and Frances Langford. In the upcoming years, he'd entertain servicemen and servicewomen fighting in the Vietnam War and in Beirut, wherever there was an armed conflict. Often this would come in the form of a Christmas show. This service gained him the nickname #1 Soldier in Greasepaint.

Hope lived a hundred years and entertained for seventy of them. He is #1 in longevity and versatility. Happy birthday, Bob Hope!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28, 1931: Broadcast of The Witch's Tale on WOR Radio Station

May 28, 1931: The Mutual Broadcasting System, through its flagship station, WOR radio in New York City, first aired "The Witch's Tale". The program was enjoyed by listeners until 1938. "The Witch's Tale" was a radio masterpiece of  Alonzo Deen Cole. It was a horror-fantasy radio series and aired on WOR and Mutual and in syndication from 1931 to 1938 .

Old Nancy was assigned as the host of Cole's spooky show.  Adelaide Fitz-Allen played the role of Old Nancy. After Ms Allen's passing the role was taken by  Miriam Wolfe, and Martha Wentworth who was also heard as Old Nancy on occasion. Cole himself hive his voice for role of Old Nancy's cat, Satan. Cole's wife, Marie O'Flynn,assigned as lead female characters on the program, and the supporting cast included Mark Smith and Alan Devitte.

The shows were recorded live during broadcast and distributed to other stations. But later in 1961, Cole destroyed these recordings, only a few remain.

In November 1936, Alonzo Deen Cole edited  The Witch's Tale  magazine with the lead story by Cole. It ran for only two issues.

Enjoy this episode of Witch's Tale entitled "Graveyard Mansion" from 1933:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27: Happy Birthday, Vincent Price

Imagine a dozen voices singing "Happy Birthday" in a sepulchral, raspy Vincent Price voice.

 Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was born on this day in 1911 and would forge a career in broadcasting, television, and film. The gothic ghoul who oozed cool graced the airwaves of such programs as Lux Radio Theater, Suspense, Escape, and Hollywood Star Playhouse.

Check out the titles of the programs brought to life by Price's mid-century appearances on Suspense: "Fugue In C Minor," "Hands of Mr. Ottermole," "Rave Notice." He also starred in literary chillers "Occurrence At Owl Creek" and Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum."

The Yale-educated Price started his acting career in Broadway and didn't waste much time busting into film, starring in the 1953 flick "House of Wax" alongside Frank Lovejoy and Phyllis Kirk.

Price may be the only person born today who has won a "Grim Reaper Award" and who is a member of the Horror Hall of Fame. A scary and horrific birthday to you, Vincent!

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26: Happy Birthday Al Jolson

Al Jolson was one of the most famous Broadway performers of his day. He was spontaneous and daring, improvising at will and giving audiences long segments of his song and dance stylings. He is, of course, known to history for his blackface routines, which have suffered disrepute, widely considered racist.

Jolson's early alter ego, was Gus, a wily underdog who survived on his wits. Jolson played Gus in such revues as "The Honeymoon Express" and "Dancing Around."

Off stage, Jolson was known to bet on the ponies and on boxers. He was known for his volatile personality.

Jolson lit up the radio airwaves with appearances on Bing Crosby's Chesterfield Show and Kraft Music Hour. He also had a brief run with his own Al Jolson Show.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18: Meredith Willson Musical Revue

Meredith Willson was a band leader and conductor who then became a radio star and host of his own show. Meredith Willson's Musical Revue aired from 1935 to '53. The road to this distinction passed through work in the trenches. Willson served as the musical director for Tallulah Bankhead's "The Big Show." He also gained some notability as a songwriter, the author of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," and the Beatles hit "Till There Was You."

His was an All-American story, one of a smalltown boy who would travel to New York City wanting to break into show business. Meredith Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902. Though far from the lights of the big city, he did have a musical environment. His mom taught music lessons, and a childhood friend of his joined him for flute duets. Later, he would use this environment as the inspiration for Music Man.

His style became dubbed "Chiffon Swing." Today we celebrate his 1902 birth.