"These are little-known stories of the men who have lived in the White House...dramatic, exciting events in their lives that you and I so rarely hear..."
, a dramatic series that premiered over ABC Radio on June 26, 1947 and was heard until September 23, 1953, established its novel premise pretty much from the first broadcast: it dramatized weekly events in the lives of the various men who at one time held the highest office in the land, the Presidency of the United States of America. Created by Robert G. Jennings, "Mr. President's" 'hook' was that during each episode, the name of the President was withheld until a brief epilogue at the program's end. It became a challenge, then, for listeners to identify the subject of that week's drama...though students and scholars of American history probably had an advantage over the average listener by sifting through the clues frequently inserted in the scripts.
Essaying the role of the Commander-in-Chief was character actor Edward Arnold, a popular performer with audiences -- even if subtlety wasn't necessarily his stock-in-trade. Frequently cast in feature films as a well-fed capitalist and/or businessman, Arnold's contract at M-G-M necessitated that he make appearances on their "Good News" radio program from 1937 to 1940, and he later became a regular on Charlotte Greenwood's sitcom in the mid-1940s. (If you listen closely to extant broadcasts of "The Charlotte Greenwood Show," you can easily pick out the actor's distinctive guffaw...primarily because he seemed to be enjoying the show far more than the audience was.) By the time of "Mr. President's" debut, Arnold had demonstrated marked improvement in his radio acting, and made such a distinct impression in the role that he was often addressed as "Mr. President" -- even by President Harry S Truman, who became a good friend of the actor and invited him to the White House on many occasions.
Keeping Edward Arnold's excesses in check were a vibrant group of supporting actors who, though they may have been deprived of credit, made the greatest contribution to the program with their consistently top-notch performances. They included such Radio Row stalwarts as Betty Lou Gerson, Lurene Tuttle, Bea Benaderet, Hans Conried, Parley Baer and Joseph Kearns; Owen James was "President's" longtime announcer, with Dick Woolen handling the directing-producing and Basil Adlam providing the music.
To modern-day ears, "Mr. President" might come across as a little sentimental and very heavy on the patriotism, but its content isn't too far removed from the works of film director Frank Capra, whose films ("You Can't Take It With You," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and many others) were sometimes referred to as "Capra-corn"...and often featured "Mr. President's" star, Edward Arnold. It is the unusually fine writing, however, that separates the program from its contemporaries: scribes like Jean Holloway, Bernard Dougall and Ira Marion crafted first-rate scripts despite the fact that at the time of the show's run there were only thirty-two men who had occupied the White House. (On occasion, though, the program would deviate from its normal regimen and either present repeat performances or, as a change of pace, a dramatization like that of Edward Everett Hale's classic short story, "The Man Without a Country," which is featured in this collection.
"Here's a story that happened in Washington a few years ago. Listen closely, and see if you can tell who the President was..." With that introduction from star Edward Arnold, listeners knew they were about to be entertained by a fascinating story - humorous, dramatic, or a combination of both - detailing an event in the lives of some truly great men. All of the episodes contained in this set have been taken from ABC network master recordings, originally from the collection of Jean Holloway, the writer of many episodes in the series. All of the broadcasts are uncirculated and are, in fact, likely the only recordings of these shows in existence. Radio Archives is very lucky to have located these one-of-a-kind recordings and we're pleased to make them available for the first time in over half a century.
He Went to Paris
Sunday, January 23, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
The Tall Target
Sunday, March 6, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
To the Victor Go the Spoils
Sunday, March 27, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
A Door That He Can't Open
Sunday, April 3, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Splitting Wood and Splitting Hairs
Sunday, May 8, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Ladies They Talk About
Sunday, May 15, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
He Went to Paris
Sunday, June 26, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
The Man Without a Country
Sunday, July 3, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Have a Little Faith
Sunday, July 31, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
The Beast of Buffalo
Sunday, August 7, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Strategy, My Boy, Strategy!
Sunday, August 21, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Boys Will Be Boys
Sunday, September 11, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
The Man of the Hour
Sunday, September 25, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Leadership in Crisis
Sunday, October 23, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Sunday, December 11, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Give and Take
Sunday, December 18, 1949 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Weighty Affairs of State
Sunday, January 1, 1950 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Sound as a Dollar
Sunday, January 8, 1950 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
A Gift Horse in the Mouth
Sunday, January 15, 1950 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining
Sunday, January 22, 1950 - 30:00 - ABC, sustaining