In the first of an ongoing series of diverse and wide-ranging collections
called Archives Masters, Radio Archives brings you ten
hours of entertainment from ten different radio series. It's a panorama of what
radio was like in its prime -- featuring the unique comedy of "Easy Aces" and
Bob and Ray, dramatic shows starring Charles Boyer, Robert Cummings, and Rosalind
Russell, two innovative plays written by radio's "poet laureate," Norman Corwin,
domestic comedy with "Mr. & Mrs. Blandings" starring Cary Grant and Betsy Drake,
rural quizzes and contests with "The Man on the Farm," Arlene Francis arranging
an evening on the town between servicemen and beautiful models on "Blind Date,"
newspaper reporter Randy Stone uncovering 'the human side of the news' on the
"Night Beat," and popular singing star James Melton appearing in two mid-1940s
rebroadcasts of "The Texaco Star Theater."
Jane and Goodman Ace star in four broadcasts of "Easy Aces," one of the wittiest
comedy programs ever to hit the airwaves. Written by Goodman Ace, the series was
the ongoing saga of a long-suffering husband and his malaprop-prone wife, Jane
-- a woman who had a voice that, to many, sounded like fingernails on a
blackboard, but comic timing unmatched anywhere. Laden with hilarious malaprops
- many of which, like "time wounds all heels" and "home wasn't built in a day,"
are still quoted to this day - "Easy Aces" brings us an hilarious glimpse of
daily life among the middle classes; think of "Vic and Sade" in the big city and
perhaps you'll know what we mean.
The series ran on various networks from 1931 thru 1945 and, after it ended, the
savvy Goodman Ace revealed that he had not only retained the rights to the show,
but also hundreds of recordings of the programs on high quality 16"
transcriptions. Forming an agreement with the Frederick Ziv Company of
Cincinnati, Ohio, long runs of the series were soon edited for syndication --
removing the original opening and closings of the shows, as well as the various
commercials along the way. As a result, "Easy Aces" enjoyed a popular revival on
local stations in the post-war years -- and many hundreds of shows are also
available for listening today.
The four programs offered here were used as audition programs for the syndicated
version of the show and, we believe, date from the late 1930s. In addition to
Goodman and Jane Ace, the programs also feature Mary Hunter as Marge Stevenson,
an old school chum of Jane's who lived with the Aces for a time.
Audition - 222
Ace is surprised and upset to find that Jane's brother, recently married to a wealthy young lady and newly back from his honeymoon, has charged two new $40.00 flannel suits with accessories to Ace's account at a local department store.
15:00 - ZIV syndication
Audition - 749
Jane has been called for jury duty, so Ace and Marge vainly attempt to explain to her what will be expected from her as a potential juror.
15:00 - ZIV syndication
Audition - 750
In an episode featuring appearances by radio stalwarts Alan Reed and John Brown, Jane answers her summons and appears in court as a potential juror. Will American justice ever be the same again?
15:00 - ZIV syndication
Audition - 922
Jane writes a letter to her sister, thanking her for sending a book as a gift. Jane didn't particularly enjoy the book - seems it was too "wishy-squishy" - and reminisces about the wonderful books she read as a young student.
15:00 - ZIV syndication
The Bob & Ray Show
their years of success as a freewheeling comedy team on Boston's 5000 watt WHDH,
Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding found themselves offered a contract to appear in a
five-a-week comedy series over the coast to coast NBC Radio Network. Packing up
many of the characters that they had developed in Boston - including cooking
show hostess Mary McGoon, rope trick artist Tex Blaisdell, and roving reporter
Wally Ballou - the team moved to NBC in a 5:45-6:00 PM daily slot, attracted an
increasingly appreciative audience, and eventually won a Peabody Award for
excellence in broadcasting.
Over the years, many of Bob and Ray's programs have survived - though often in
edited form, offering only brief "skits" from various rebroadcasts over the
years. The majority of the shows available today date from either their early
days with WHDH or their later years on WOR and NPR. Programs from their first
network series have proved elusive to locate -- but luckily, many of the
programs were recorded by the Armed Forces Radio Service for rebroadcast to
military personnel. Only slightly edited, the AFRS unwittingly preserved Bob and
Ray in their prime -- and here we offer four 15-minute shows from this NBC
daytime run, as rebroadcast by the AFRS. Starring Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding,
these sustaining programs also feature "The Bob and Ray Orchestra," a musical
trio with Paul Taubman on the Hammond Organ, Sanford Gold on piano and Bill
Bauer on guitar.
A Vacation at Lake Chipmunk (AFRS #17)
Mary McGoon complains that her Bob and Ray Surgeon Kit hasn't yet arrived - and neither has her official Burglar Kit, either. Meantime, Windy Sturdley from the Lake Chipmunk Chamber of Commerce calls in to recommend a vacation in Maine and O. Leo Leahy makes a personal appearance to describe his unique profession. The "Bob and Ray Orchestra" perform "Tabu."
Tuesday, August 7, 1951 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS rebroadcast
The Bob and Ray Radio Script Writing School (AFRS #18)
Bob, Ray, and Mary McGoon discuss Steve Bosco's latest attempt to publicize the show, the musicians perform a creative rendition of "I Got Rhythm," and we enjoy another lesson in professional radio writing -- this time concerning essential plot points for crime shows.
Wednesday, August 8, 1951 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS rebroadcast
Pretty Please (AFRS #97)
A particularly diverse program, in which we hear of baby opossums, ham, gas mains, and the life of a professional game show contestant -- plus "guess the tune" with disc jockey Corby Loftis, an on-air disc jockey audition with Tex Blaisdell, and the musical selection "A Kiss to Build a Dream On."
Wednesday, December 12, 1951 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS rebroadcast
The Tex and Mary McGoon Show (AFRS #98)
Another special offer from the Bob and Ray Overstocked Warehouse, an interview with a fisherman, a chat with Tex Blaisdell, a musical selection entitled "Dance Me Loose," and a peek behind the scenes of the early morning breakfast time favorite "The Tex and Mary McGoon Show."
Thursday, December 13, 1951 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS rebroadcast
Mr. & Mrs. Blandings
married couple Cary Grant and Betsy Drake star in "Mr. and Mrs.
Blandings," a radio situation comedy based on books by Eric Hodgins and
on the 1948 RKO-Radio Pictures film, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream
House." A cut above the standard radio sit-com of the time, this
well-written and equally well-acted series tells the tale of Jim and
Muriel Blandings, a married couple in their mid-30's who, tiring of the
cramped surroundings of their New York apartment, decide to buy and
renovate a 150-year-old home in the country. Aided by their friend Bill
Cole (Gale Gordon), a smart and practical attorney who also happens to
be a former beau of Mrs. Blandings, their misadventures dealing with
the joys and sorrows of endless home maintenance, parenthood,
neighbors, and commuting to and from the city form the basis for a very
entertaining series of shows.
Taken from 16" NBC transcriptions, these programs may seem slightly dated today
- imagine a four-bedroom, fully restored home in the country costing just
$35,000.00 - but the charm and talent of both the creators and the leading
actors make them, in many ways, just as enjoyable and entertaining today as they
were well over fifty years ago.
Jim's Television Appearance
Jim is entirely opposed to television so, when Muriel has one installed in
their home, Jim insists that it be immediately returned to the store. However,
when Bill Cole calls at the last minute to ask Jim to stand in for him on a TV
panel show, Jim is upset that Muriel won't have a set on which to see his
appearance. Featured in the cast are Gail Bonney, Gene Bates, Marion Richmond,
Ed Max, Jerry Hausner, and Earl Keene. The program is written by M. Winkel (the
pseudonym of series co-star Betsy Drake), directed by Warren Lewis, and Don
Stanley is the announcer.
Sunday, February 25, 1951 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Trans-World Airlines
Selling the House
After a week's worth of unexpected household maintenance expenses, Jim is
fed up and decides to sell the house. He soon reconsiders -- but he may be too
late, as a flashy and moneyed couple from New York are on their way this evening
to look over the property and, if they like it, buy it on the spot. Featuring
hilarious guest appearances by Sandra Gould and Sheldon Leonard as the
prospective buyers, the program also features Jim Backus as Mr. Martin, the
unscrupulous real estate agent, and Dick Ryan as Mr. Jenkins, the handyman. The
program is written by Charles Stewart and Mort Lachmann, directed by Warren
Lewis, and Don Stanley is the announcer.
Sunday, March 18, 1951 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Trans-World Airlines
Four Star Playhouse
As a response to the 1948 CBS raid on NBC's talent pool, NBC chose to develop a
number of series featuring top Hollywood stars. In mid-1949, the network hired
Robert Cummings, Fred MacMurray, Loretta Young, and Rosalind Russell to appear
in rotation as the leads in a new anthology series titled "Four Star Playhouse."
Offering stories from the pages of Cosmopolitan Magazine, as adapted for radio
by Milton Geiger, the series ran the gamut from suspense to farce to melodrama
to thriller -- and, sadly, lasted just three months. Seems it was just too
similar to other movie star-based dramatic programs that were running on the
networks and in syndication around the same time.
However, this limited run doesn't mean the programs weren't entertaining or
worth hearing today -- quite the contrary. The featured stars of the two shows
offered here, Bob Cummings and Rosalind Russell, had previously proven
themselves to be highly capable radio performers -- and, supported by top radio
talent, they give today's listeners an entertaining glimpse into not only their
unique broadcast talents, but also into a network in transition, desperate to
regain its dominance in the industry. These two shows were digitally preserved
directly from 16" NBC Orthacoustic lacquer copy discs, transferred from the
network linecheck reference recordings in 1951, and offer outstanding fidelity.
Robert Cummings, Lurene Tuttle, and William Conrad star in a tense story
about a man named Fred Woodard, new in town, who comes to the aid of a young
lady being followed by a mysterious man with a white scarf around his neck. Fred
soon finds himself mixed up in a web of deception, theft, madness -- and murder.
Based on the Cosmopolitan Magazine short story by Maurice Beaudine Jr. and
adapted for radio by Milton Geiger, the program is directed by Warren Lewis,
with music composed and conducted by Albert Harris; also featured in the cast
are Wilms Herbert, Lawrence Dobkin, and announcer Edward King.
Sunday, August 14, 1949 - 30:00 - NBC, sustaining
The Incredible Anna Lee
This farcical comedy about an enthusiastic and overly dramatic Hollywood
movie star and her long-suffering publicist stars Rosalind Russell and Frank
Lovejoy. Based on the Cosmopolitan Magazine story by Robert Carson and adapted
for radio by Milton Geiger, the program is directed by Warren Lewis, with music
composed and conducted by Albert Harris; also featured in the cast are Betty
Moran, George Neise, Ken Christy, and announcer Edward King.
Sunday, August 21, 1949 - 30:00 - NBC, sustaining
Presenting Charles Boyer
Beginning as a mid-summer replacement series for "Fibber McGee and Molly" in
July of 1950, "Presenting Charles Boyer" offered its romantic leading man the
chance to portray on radio the same sort of charming character that had earlier
brought him to prominence in the movies: a French rogue named Michel --
handsome, clever, and usually broke, but with a continental style and demeanor
that could melt the coldest young female heart. Based on characters created by
Ernest Vadja and Clement Scott Gilbert, the series also starred Hanley Stafford
as an American magazine writer named Bart Conway. Based in Paris, Conway is
always in need of a good story to write up and send to his publishers. Since
Michel always has both a good story to tell and an ongoing need for pocket
money, Conway is happy to pay him $200.00 (plus his dinner check) in exchange
for a saleable tale.
"Presenting Charles Boyer" had a limited run of only four months - July thru
October 1950 - and, curiously, never attracted a sponsor. This is a real shame,
as the series was clearly well crafted and Boyer had a voice and a presence that
made him perfect for the intimacy of radio. But no matter -- at least we have
recordings of the programs to hear and enjoy today, including the first two
consecutive shows of the series, offered here as digitally preserved from 16"
NBC Orthacoustic lacquer copy discs. In particular, be sure to hear the
broadcast of July 11, when we get our first glimpse into the kind of dramatic
depth the series might have pursued had it survived a little longer on the air.
Adventure with a Slide Rule Blonde
Michel recalls an encounter with a beautiful blonde in a Monte Carlo casino
-- beautiful, and very intelligent, too. So intelligent, in fact, that with the
use of a slide rule and a series of advanced probability theorems, she's able to
win again and again at roulette! Mary Jane Croft co-stars in a light-hearted
program that was written by Robert E. Lee and directed by Nat Wolff; also in the
cast are Jack Edwards, Herbert Butterfield, Fritz Feld, Paul Marion, Veola Vonn,
and announcer Don Stanley.
Tuesday, July 4, 1950 - 30:00 - NBC, sustaining
The Thief, a Beautiful Woman, and My Life of Crime
In a touching entry in the series, a bowl of pansies reminds Michel of his
brief period as a pickpocket, working under the expert guidance of his old
friend Fingers, played by Sheldon Leonard. His life of crime is cut short,
though, when he accidentally steals the purse of a woman -- then, while
reviewing the contents, discovers the tragic secret she has revealed to no one.
Written by Leonard St. Clair and directed by Nat Wolff, the program features
Betty Moran, Herb Butterfield, Jane Morgan, Jeffrey Silver, Veola Vonn, Rolfe
Sedan, and announcer Don Stanley.
Tuesday, July 11, 1950 - 30:00 - NBC, sustaining
Columbia Presents Corwin
There is very little that can be written about Norman Corwin that has not
already been better expressed by others. That he is an outstanding writer and
was an innovative force in radio is indisputable; given carte blanche treatment
by his employers, the Columbia Broadcasting System, he wrote, produced, and
directed many of the most memorable programs ever to be heard on the public
airwaves. Working in tandem with the most talented actors and actresses of his
time, he created programs that set new standards for what radio was -- and, more
importantly, what it could be.
In the summer of 1945, CBS offered him an eight-week series in which would be
presented a combination of new works, as well as a restaging of some earlier
plays that had received significant public acclaim. The two programs offered
here reflect the latter -- and, hearing them today, it's understandable that
there was a desire for them to be heard once again by the 1945 audiences that
had enjoyed them earlier that decade. Take note particularly of the use Corwin
makes of evocative musical scores to highlight both the drama and panoramic
sweep of these two shows; Lyn Murray's score for "Daybreak" is as much the star
of the show as is Ronald Colman and, in "Savage Encounter," we get a taste of
the broad but under-appreciated talents of Harry Simeone -- best remembered
today for his classic choral recording of "The Little Drummer Boy."
Both of these programs were digitally preserved from 16" CBS/KNX copy discs,
recorded directly from the network reference recordings by Radio Recorders in
Daybreak (#2 of 8)
In a truly poetic and wonderfully creative use of radio, Ronald Colman gives
a bravura performance narrating the progress of daybreak on a typical day,
following the sunrise from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean all the way around
the world. An authentic masterpiece, highlighted by an outstanding score by Lyn
Murray as conducted by Lud Gluskin, the program was written, produced, and
directed by Norman Corwin and features unique vocal solos by Corina Mura.
Tuesday, July 10, 1945 - 30:00 - CBS, sustaining
Savage Encounter (#6 of 8)
Glenn Ford stars as a fighter pilot who, having bailed out of his plane over
the Pacific Ocean, finds himself stranded on a remote and uncharted island.
Inhabited by a race of peaceful people and led by an elderly white man, the
pilot feels he has discovered a paradise - but, after speaking at length of the
war in the outside world, soon finds himself on trial for his life out of fear
that the savagery of his influence might contaminate the serenity of the island.
Featuring a score by Harry Simeone, conducted by Lud Gluskin, the script was
previously aired on March 28, 1944 and is written, produced, and directed by
Tuesday, August 7, 1945 - 30:00 - CBS, sustaining
The Man on the Farm
Quick! Name one of the top ten network weekend shows from the early 1950s! Can't
do it? Well, we're not surprised. Daytime radio in the weekday hours was
dominated by highly-rated soap operas but, on the weekends, listeners turned to
a different kind of programming - primarily religious broadcasts and
agricultural shows. And, for many years, one of the top ten shows of the
agricultural type was "The Man on the Farm."
Throughout most of radio's golden age, America was still a nation of small towns
-- and many of these towns were supported by family farms, raising the crops and
livestock necessary to sustain the nation. After almost a decade of deprivation
and uncertainty, World War II finally brought an end to declining farm prices
and, with this, came a period of prosperity previously unknown in these
close-knit communities. As always, radio did its best to reflect the needs and
interests of the nation -- and, for much of Middle America in the 1940s, the
interest was in ways to increase production and cut prices for independent
farmers, livestock ranchers, poultry men, dairy owners, and their related
"The Man on the Farm," sponsored by the Quaker Oats Company on behalf of its
Ful-O-Pep line of animal feeds, began as a syndicated weekly feature in about
1942 and ran for well over a decade -- eventually making its way to the full
Mutual Network in the early 1950s. Recorded at the Quaker Oats Experimental Farm
near Libertyville, Illinois and hosted by a genial Oklahoman named Chuck Akery,
the program offered a lighthearted Saturday afternoon combination of audience
participation show features like those heard regularly on "The Breakfast Club"
and "Welcome Travelers." A small studio audience, consisting mostly of
indomitable farm wives, were regularly asked to answer questions sent in by
listeners as Akery moved through the crowd with a portable microphone -- perhaps
winning a pound of feed or two for their trouble. Reggie Cross on the harmonica
and legendary Hammond Organist Porter Heaps would perform musical duets, while
Ful-O-Pep advised listeners on new ways to increase egg production and issued a
weekly blue ribbon award to an outstanding farm or dairy. The show usually
closed with an amusing contest, in which participants could win $1.00 to $5.00
just for coming before the microphone.
If you grew up in a small town, were raised on a farm, or ever belonged to a
Grange organization, you'll find "The Man on the Farm" a familiar and
entertaining time capsule of rural life in the early postwar years. It's also a
reminder that radio, in its hey-day, was far more diverse than just the big-time
network shows we remember today would lead us to believe. Is it corny? Maybe --
but down-to-earth and a great deal of fun, too.
Audience discussions range from how cucumbers blossom to whether watermelons
only turn red inside when they're exposed to fresh air. The program concludes
with a contest in which seven women compete to see who can give the best
imitation of a howling tom cat.
Saturday, August 9, 1947 - 30:00 - Syndicated, sponsored by Quaker Oats
Can a chicken hatch and successfully raise a setting of peacock eggs? What
is the difference between a chocolate cake and a devil's food cake? Which would
produce the most meat: a fat little pig or a little fat pig? All of these
questions are addressed at length -- and the program concludes with a contest to
see which little boy in the studio audience has the most items stored in his
Saturday, August 16, 1947 - 30:00 - Syndicated, sponsored by Quaker Oats
The premise was quite simple: bring together six clean-cut servicemen, gathered
from entertainment industry-sponsored nightspots like the Stage Door Canteen,
hire three beautiful models or aspiring actresses willing to go on a chaperoned
date with one of them, then have hostess Arlene Francis assist the servicemen in
convincing one of the women to go out with them on a "blind date." Sound
familiar? Fans of the 1960s and 1970s television show "The Dating Game" might
think so -- and well they should, since this radio and early television stalwart
formed the basis for that later concept.
Arlene Francis came to New York as an aspiring actress in the early 1930s. Known
among producers as "Radio's Oomph Girl" for her unflagging vitality and charm,
she made the rounds of the daytime network programs, appeared frequently (if
anonymously) on the popular "March of Time" series, and eventually found a
long-term niche as a soap opera heroine on such dramas as "Betty and Bob" and
"Central City." In addition, in 1936, she began a long-term contract as the
sophisticated, articulate, and sexy-voiced hostess of "The Hour of Charm"
starring the popular Phil Spitalny and his All-Girl Orchestra. Despite her
initial desire to become a stage actress, she soon realized that radio could not
only provide her with a steady income, but also be the basis for the kind of
stable stay-at-home lifestyle she wanted for herself -- particularly after she
divorced first husband Neil Agnew and married Martin Gabel, himself an extremely
successful radio and stage actor.
Throughout the 1940s, she would appear occasionally in Broadway plays, but the
bulk of her time was devoted to numerous appearances on New York-based dramatic
programs such as "The Cavalcade of America," "The Mercury Theater" and "The
Campbell Playhouse" - both with Orson Welles - and, in July of 1943, as the
hostess of "Blind Date," Beginning as an NBC summer replacement series for the
popular "Frank Morgan-Fannie Brice Show," the simplicity and good-hearted
patriotism of "Blind Date" soon captured the fancy of the nation. Moving to the
fledgling Blue Network (ABC) in October of that year, Arlene Francis weekly
demonstrated her talent for entertaining an audience, as well as her growing
ability to humorously ad-lib her way out of most any situation -- a skill
necessary for anyone hosting an unscripted and unpredictable audience
participation show. The show outlasted the war -- but only just, ending its run
in January of the following year.
Listeners raised in today's more permissive times might find "Blind Date" to be
rather innocent and naive, at least compared to the current trend in more
graphic reality-type dating shows. There's no doubt that the attitudes and mores
of the 1940s were far different than those of the new millennium -- but that
doesn't mean that the "Blind Date" radio series has lost any of its ability to
charm or entertain modern audiences. These two programs, transferred from
recently discovered 16" lacquer linechecks and unheard since their original
airings, show America during a time of change; with a long and hard-fought world
war drawing to a close and a new peacetime society yet to be established, many a
young man wanted nothing more than a shave, a hot shower, a change of clothes,
and a chance to spend a memorable evening on the town with a beautiful young
Come to think of it, perhaps times haven't changed all that much...
Guest Chaperone Glenda Farrell
Broadcasting from New York City, a paratrooper and a ship's cook vie for a
date with an aspiring actress, an Army private and a Navy musician try to make a
date with a radio actress, and a PFC paratrooper and another Navy musician
compete for an evening out with a New York actress and model. The winners
receive dinner at the Stork Club, tickets to the Broadway musical "Marinka" and
also tickets to the new 20th Century Fox Technicolor musical "State Fair." Teddy
Rath conducts the orchestra and Ken Roberts is the announcer.
Friday, August 31, 1945 - 8:00-8:30 PM - 30:00 - ABC, sponsored by Etiquette
Deodorant and Hinds Hand Cream
Guest Chaperone Hazel Brooks
Broadcasting from New York City, a Marine private and a Coast Guard radar
man vie for a date with an American Airlines stewardess, a Navy sonar man and an
Army corporal try to make a date with a dark-haired beauty from Syracuse, and an
Army PFC and a Navy coxman compete to date another stewardess. The winners
receive dinner at the Stork Club, tickets to the Broadway musical "Marinka" and
also tickets to the film "Duffy's Tavern." Teddy Rath conducts the orchestra and
Ken Roberts is the announcer.
Friday. September 28, 1945- 8:00-8:30 PM - 30:00 - ABC (WJZ New York
aircheck), sponsored by Pebeco Toothpaste and Hinds Hand Cream
In the postwar years, a new style of filmmaking began to emerge. Inspired in
part by the moody and avant-garde expressionistic school that the Germans
brought to the medium in the last days of the silent era, American mystery and
detective films began adopting a dark and shadowy look, as well as an air of
anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion in both plot and characterization. To critics,
it became known as "film noir" -- literally "black film" or "black cinema" -- a
style that would also quickly make its way to radio in such hard-bitten,
downbeat series as "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe" and "Broadway's My Beat."
One of the top proponents of this style - and arguably the best of radio's
various newspaper-based dramas - was "Nightbeat," the story of hard-nosed
Chicago Star newsman Randy Stone and his quest for the human news behind the
headlines. Starring Frank Lovejoy in the leading role, Stone came to vivid life
thanks to expert scripts by experienced scribes like Russell Hughes (who would
also write similar stories for "Box 13" and "Richard Diamond"), E. Jack Neumann,
John Michael Hayes (who would later go on to write the Hitchcock film classics
"To Catch a Thief" and "Rear Window"), and Larry Marcus. Lovejoy's distinctive
voice and manner, combined with performances by veteran radio performers like
Lurene Tuttle, Peter Leeds, Jeff Corey, and Jerry Hausner, gave "Night Beat" an
unusual and engrossing style. One week the story would be lighthearted and
tongue-in-cheek, the next an emotional tragedy with a downbeat ending; there
would be suspenseful races for time and quiet reflections on everyday life among
the masses. Through it all, Randy Stone, in a hard-boiled yet sensitive
portrayal by Frank Lovejoy, would narrate the story and comment on it from
beginning to end -- often with a hard-edged cynicism that long-time fans knew
was a cover for Stone's personal sense of fairness and morality.
Though generally popular with listeners, "Nightbeat" spend most of its
three-year run bouncing around the NBC schedule -- usually without a sponsor and
sustained by the network. Fans of the series often complained that they didn't
know from week to week when - or if - it would be on. As a result, radio
enthusiasts of today have probably heard more "Nightbeat" programs that most
listeners heard when it was first broadcast over fifty years ago. The two
programs offered here are typical but intriguing entries from the series, both
taken from NBC reference recordings preserved to tape in the early 1970s.
After a misdial leads to a wrong number, Randy Stone decides to dial his
phone at random -- and ends up speaking to a frightened woman who believes that
her mentally ill husband is about to murder her. Frank Lovejoy stars in a
program written by Larry Marcus and directed by Warren Lewis, with music
composed and conducted by Frank Worth. Broadcasting from Hollywood, the cast
includes Barbara Dupar, Jay Novello, Katherine Card, Lurene Tuttle, Peter Leeds,
and announcer William Lally.
Monday, July 31, 1950 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Wheaties
A Woman's Tears
A criminal known as the Slasher is terrorizing Chicago, attacking fourteen
women in the past three weeks. Randy Stone's investigation quickly leads to a
fellow named Rick Bennett -- an artist who trades sketches and murals for drinks
and meals in local taverns. Bennett's work is good, but slightly odd; seems that
the drawings of all of his subjects are uniquely rendered...with scars on their
faces. Frank Lovejoy stars in a program written by E. Jack Neumann and John
Michael Hayes and produced and directed by Warren Lewis, with music by Frank
Worth. Broadcasting from Hollywood, the cast includes Jeff Corey, Joan Banks,
Sidney Miller, Nestor Paiva, Jerry Hausner, and Lou Krugman.
Friday, November 10, 1950 - 30:00 - NBC, sustaining
The James Melton Show (The Texaco Star Theater)
Tenor James Melton began his radio career in the earliest days of the networks,
appearing as early as 1927 on NBC's "The Palmolive Hour" as part of a popular
musical quartet known as The Revelers. Quickly becoming known for his solo
talent in performing both light opera and popular favorites, Melton appeared
frequently on radio throughout the 1930s -- including stints as Jack Benny's
vocalist in 1933, Bob Hope's featured tenor in his first radio series in 1935,
and regular appearances on concert series such as "The Chicago Theater of the
Air," "The Palmolive Beauty Box Theater" with Gladys Swarthout and Jessica
Dragonette, and "The Ford Summer Hour" on Sunday evenings with maestros Donald
Voorhees and Meredith Willson.
In 1943, Melton - who was by now also the leading tenor of New York's
Metropolitan Opera company and a popular touring concert artist - was given the
chance to host his own summer series, taking over the timeslot usually occupied
by Fred Allen's "Texaco Star Theater" comedy series on CBS. Featuring Allen's
orchestra leader Al Goodman at the podium (a perfect fit, as Goodman was also
well known at the time for his recordings of light classical favorites) as well
as English pianist and musical comedian Alec Templeton, Melton's program became
a favorite among listeners for its combination of popular melodies, well-known
operatic classics, and the amusing performances and parodies performed by
Templeton and Melton's various guest artists. Melton returned for another summer
run in 1944 - a series that unexpectedly continued into the fall when Allen was
unable to return to his show due to health problems.
James Melton's "Texaco Star Theater" series continued to be heard until the fall
of 1946, when his increasing commitments to both the Metropolitan Opera and a
heavy concert schedule required him to drop his weekly radio commitment. He
would continue to be heard in guest appearances, as well as appear as the host
of an early television variety series for Ford in 1950. He died suddenly in 1961
after suffering a bout of pneumonia, aged only 57 years of age.
Guests Alec Templeton and Rise Stevens (AFRS #42)
James Melton solos on "Begin the Beguine," "I Got Plenty of Nothing," and
"Le RÍve de Manon" from Massenet's opera "Manon," mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens
sings "Habanera" from Bizet's opera "Carmen," Alex Templeton performs his own
version of Addinsell's "Warsaw Concerto," and Melton and Stevens duet on Sigmund
Romberg's "Close as Pages in a Book" from "Up in Central Park." The program
closes with a rousing musical salute to the United Nations featuring the entire
cast and Al Goodman's orchestra and chorus.
Sunday, April 15, 1945 - 30:00 - CBS/AFRS rebroadcast
Guests Anna Mary Dickie and Ed Wynn (AFRS #83)
James Melton opens the program with "I Will Bring You Music," based on
Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, and also performs "Symphony" and
Massenet's "Elegy" with a violin obbligato by soloist Jules Schachter. Guest Ed
Wynn, returning to his role as the Fire Chief on his own Texaco series of the
early 1930s, gives his comedic commentary on the story of the opera "Faust."
From "Private Lives," guest Anna Mary Dickie performs Noel Coward's "Someday
I'll Find You" and, along with the Lyn Murray Male Chorus, performs "If I Loved
You" from "Carousel." The program concludes with a medley of familiar songs by
Hungarian composer Emmerich Kalman. David Broekman conducts the orchestra.
Sunday, January 27, 1946 - 30:00 - CBS/AFRS rebroadcast