Matinee with Bob & Ray
"That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me..."
It was CBS News commentator/curmudgeon Andy Rooney who once observed, "A lot of people think, as I do, that they appreciate Bob and Ray more than anyone else does." Included in that "a lot of people" are undoubtedly old-time radio fans, many of whom have delighted in the offbeat radio antics of Messrs. Elliott and Goulding for the past half-century. Both men capitalized on their uncanny ability to intuit what each other was thinking to carve a small niche in the field of entertainment, generating big laughs by gently skewering and mocking the banality and pomposity of the business in which they had devoted both their careers: radio.
Boston native Robert Brackett Elliott was hired by 5000-watt radio station WHDH shortly after the start of World War II and, upon completing his stint in the service, returned to continue working the station's morning drive time slot as a disc jockey. At that same time, the station also hired Raymond Walter Goulding to do WHDH's hourly newscasts. Goulding was also a fellow New Englander, having been raised in nearby Lowell. The two men soon discovered that they enjoyed a real rapport over the airwaves and, after Goulding's newscast was over, he would often join Elliott in witty, ad-libbed skits that slowly and surely developed a devoted fan base. When WHDH obtained the rights to the Braves-Red Sox games, management offered the two men twenty-five minutes before the start of each game to showcase their unique buffoonery, and dubbed the proceedings with the catchy title "Matinee with Bob and Ray."
Broadcasts of "Matinee" have been in circulation among OTR buffs since the 1980s, when transcriptions of Bob and Ray's formative years were discovered stored in a building near the WHDH transmitter. For Bob and Ray fans that are only familiar with their network offerings on NBC, CBS, or NPR, the programs make for fascinating listening, offering a revealing insight into the workings of local radio during the 1940s. "Matinee" can best be described as sort of a free-form style of comedy jazz; nothing is scripted (well, about 90% is unscripted) and the program allows both men to indulge in flights of fancy, often veering onto offbeat comedic tangents from the most mundane mentions. For example, a Fatima Cigarettes commercial in which famed Sherlock Holmes actor Basil Rathbone acts as spokesman is usually followed by Bob and Ray's parody of the great sleuth ("As I made my way through the pea-soup thick fog..."). Elliott and Goulding's penchant for soap opera send-ups are in full swing on "Matinee"; their regular feature is a delightfully nutty saga entitled "The Life and Loves of Linda Lovely" (prominently featured on their 1951 NBC-TV series, with Audrey Meadows as Linda), but a September 9, 1948 broadcast showcases an even funnier parody titled "Ma Gherkins." Several characters from Bob and Ray's vast array of offbeat guests have already staked out positions on this show, notably Ray's falsetto Julia Child-clone Mary Margaret McGoon and Bob's drawling cowboy Tex.
"Matinee with Bob and Ray" continued on WHDH in various formats and time slots until 1951, when the two men finally crashed the party known as network radio, beginning with quarter and half-hour shows on NBC and also launching their aforementioned television show, which was happily rerun on "The Comedy Channel" in the 1990s). Their five-minute appearances on NBC Radio's "Monitor" began in 1955, and four years later they moved to CBS for what many fans consider their finest hour, "Bob and Ray Present the CBS Radio Network" (1959-60). After a two-year period of concentrating on work in commercials, they returned to New York's WHN for an all-afternoon show, and moved to WOR around 1973. In the 1980s, they were entertaining public radio audiences with their NPR series, which ended in 1987. Ray Goulding passed away three years after completing that show, in March of 1990.
Bob and Ray's one-of-a-kind brand of comedy enabled the team to transcend radio; they entertained audiences along the Great White Way in 1970 with their stage hit "The Two and Only" and appeared in several feature films as well. (They practically stole the show by parodying various television anchormen in the satirical 1971 comedy "Cold Turkey.") But for OTR fans, they are revered for their long-running dedication to the aural medium -- and thanks to the efforts of Bob and Ray fan Sheryl Smith, who helped us to gain access to the original 16" WHDH transcriptions, Radio Archives is able to present the two men at their finest, with a collection of hilarious "Matinee" shows that now sound better than ever before.
Bob is Ill
Tuesday, August 31, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Clinton’s Clothes and Wonderland-Revere
Bob Returns to the Program
Wednesday, September 1, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Clinton’s Clothes and Wonderland-Revere
Modern Radio Commercials
Thursday, September 2, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Clinton’s Clothes and Wonderland-Revere
A Trip to Clinton’s Clothes
Friday, September 3, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Clinton’s Clothes and Wonderland-Revere
Kidding the Musicians
Wednesday, September 8, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Clinton’s Clothes, Mission Bell Wine, and Wonderland-Revere
The Gay Nineties Show
Thursday, September 9, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by the Gay Nineties Nightclub, Mission Bell Wine, and Wonderland-Revere
Transcribed For Broadcast at a More Convenient Time
Friday, September 11, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH
Ray Returns from Vacation
Monday, October 11, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by the Ladies Home Journal, Fatima Cigarettes, and Mission Bell Wine
Tuesday, October 12, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by the Ladies Home Journal, Fatima Cigarettes, and Mission Bell Wine
Monday, October 25, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes and Mission Bell Wine
The Red River Porterhouse Promotion
Tuesday, October 26, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes and Mission Bell Wine
The Winner of the Bob and Ray Contest
Wednesday, October 27, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes, the West Peabody Speedway, and Mission Bell Wine
How to Have Fun on Halloween
Thursday, October 28, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes, the West Peabody Speedway, and Mission Bell Wine
Friday, October 29, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes, the West Peabody Speedway, and Mission Bell Wine
Dinner at the Latin Quarter
Saturday, October 30, 1948 – 25:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes, the Hudson Speedway, and Wyoming Motors
A Vocal Impersonator Auditions for the Show
Monday, November 8, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes and Mission Bell Wine
Bill Green Wins a Contest
Tuesday, November 9, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes and Mission Bell Wine
Wednesday, November 10, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored Fatima Cigarettes and Mission Bell Wine
Saturday, November 13, 1948 – 25:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes and Wyoming Motors
The WHDH Sales Office
Monday, November 15, 1948 – 30:00 – WHDH, sponsored by Fatima Cigarettes, Mission Bell Wine, and Thayer Throat Lozenges