Old Time RadioAudiobookseBooksPulp Fiction Books
Newsletter
eMail
Call
(Your shopping cart is empty)

 

  Radio's Popular Vocalists - 10 hours [Audio CDs] #RA054
Radio's Popular Vocalists, Volume 1


 
Alternative Views:


10 hours - Audio CD Set


Our Price: $29.98

Availability: Usually Ships in 24 Hours
Product Code: RA054
Qty:

Description
 
Radio's Popular Vocalists


"He's a great singer, but ya know, you can't make it without a band. Every singer has got to have a band behind him."

- Bandleader Tommy Dorsey, February 1942


It really all began with Frank Sinatra.

Bandleader Tommy Dorsey, pictured here with Frank Sinatra in 1941, thought Sinatra was "a damned fool" for considering a solo careerIn January 1942, the twenty-six-year-old singer was riding the crest of phenomenal popularity. Wherever he appeared with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, he was greeted with screams, sighs, and fainting spells from a faithful contingent of over stimulated female bobby-soxers, greeting his every phrase, motion, and intonation with loud and rapturous delight. Having spent the previous seven years paying his musical dues - a tour with a Major Bowes' amateur unit, a stint as a singing waiter, a year as vocalist with the struggling Harry James orchestra - Sinatra now felt he was ready for a solo career, even if his boss Tommy Dorsey said he was "a damn fool" for considering it.

The notion of a band vocalist going out on his or her own, without the musical and promotional support of a popular orchestra, was a fairly revolutionary concept in the early 1940s. The big band era had been in full swing since 1935, when Benny Goodman hit the big time at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles and set the musical tone for the remainder of the decade. Since that time, a myriad of singers had begun to make their names known though recordings and remote broadcasts with the popular bands -- but most preferred the security (and regular paychecks) that a job with a big band could provide.

On radio, of course, popular vocalists had filled the airwaves with musical shows for most of the 1930s, but all but a handful of these performers had come from other areas of show business, bringing with them an appeal that was more to the tastes of older (and less fickle) audiences. At that time, sponsors had yet to recognize the vast economic buying power of teenagers and young adults, and so aimed most of their sponsored shows to the established ranks of the 30-to-50-year-old audience. Sure, Sinatra was popular among groups of silly, fawning teenagers, but how much merchandise did they buy? Would his popularity continue to grow once those screaming teens grew up or moved onto another singer?

The long-term answer was yes...and no. Sinatra's increased popularity after he left Dorsey's employ would ultimately make him the first superstar of the postwar years, but there would be ups and downs ahead as others jockeyed for his level of acclaim and popularity. Most importantly, however, for the first time a band vocalist demonstrated that he could learn his craft and build up his popularity, then go out as solo act and increase his fame, his income, and (for better or worse) take control of his own professional destiny. Sinatra's simple yet daring decision signaled the beginning of a new trend in the music business: the rise of the popular vocalist as the dominant force in popular music.

In fairness to the kid from Hoboken, as the nation faced the challenges of World War II, the rise of the vocalist and the gradual decline of the big bands became almost inevitable. Ever since the United States had entered the war, bandleaders had been finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the torturous schedule of touring, radio appearances, and recording dates that had made their music so popular. Wartime restrictions on fuel and tires made travel difficult, severely restricting the number of lucrative personal appearances they could accept on road tours, and shellac - the material used to press 78 RPM records - came into short supply as well, which greatly reduced record production and sales. Likewise, by mid-1942, the draft had already begun to claim many of the talented soloists and sidemen that were the heart of the band business, with their frequently less experienced and less talented replacements being no match for the abilities of seasoned musicians.

A recording ban imposed by the American Federation of Musicians, headed by James C. Petrillo, did little to help bands already struggling with wartime restrictions and limitations -- but it went a long way toward making vocalists the dominant force in the post-war music business.If the restrictions and limitations brought on by the war weren't enough, in August 1942 a dispute over the lack of residual payments made to musicians for the records they made resulted in a recording ban being imposed by the American Federation of Musicians. Led by James C. Petrillo, the powerful President of the AFM, the ban lasted throughout much of 1943 and, in the cases of RCA and Columbia Records, would not be settled until November 1944; by that time, vocalists - who were not allowed to belong to the union and were, thus, not restricted from recording - dominated the popular music charts with recordings either made with salaried studio musicians, backed only with choral accompaniment, or with their vocals dubbed over musical tracks recorded in Mexico.

In the eyes of the record companies, who always kept a close watch on the bottom line, recordings made with star vocalists were far cheaper to produce than those featuring name bands. Rather than having to bring in a specific group of musicians for each recording session, house bands or small combos could be used to back-up the singer. This also allowed arrangers and conductors familiar with the strengths and weakness of a particular performer to handpick the musicians for a particular recording session, as well as use many of these same musicians whenever a performer appeared on the air or in a concert venue. (Sinatra, realizing the importance of a good musical arranger/director, convinced ace Dorsey arranger Axel Stordahl to leave the band at the same time he did; Jo Stafford, when she decided to go solo in 1944, went Sinatra one better: she not only insisted on working with conductor/arranger Paul Weston, she married him, too!)

By the end of the war, vocalists like Dick Haymes, Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra, Helen Forrest, Perry Como, Andy Russell, and a host of others were the stars of music business, with many also appearing on their own network radio programs. With the recording ban lifted, local radio stations began a rapid movement toward disc jockey programs that highlighted popular vocalists, frequently scheduling live promotional interviews with the singers as part of their daily broadcasts. This programming strategy would, with time, grow into a format that would thrive long after big-time network radio had faded into memory.

The era of the big bands was, by 1946, officially over -- and the era of the popular vocalist had just begun. But what would network radio do to present these new personalities to their best advantage? The answer, as it turned out, was simple: pretty much the same thing they had been doing for the past fifteen years.

Dinah Shore's regular appearances with comedian Eddie Cantor on his weekly NBC comedy series helped to establish her popularity with audiences. Shore (far right) is pictured here with Cantor and 14-year-old classical soprano Olive Major, also a regular vocalist on the showSince network radio's earliest days, popular vocalists had been a part of most big-time shows. It didn't seem to matter whether the shows were comedy, variety, or musically based, almost all had a featured vocalist as part of their star line-up. "Fibber McGee and Molly,' for instance, featured Martha Tilton for a year or so and also had the King's Men vocal group under contract for over a decade. Jack Benny began by featuring bandleader George Olsen's vocalist Ethel Shutta, then over the years starred Frank Parker, Kenny Baker, and eventually Dennis Day, while Fred Allen's shows ran the gamut from The Merry Macs and Wynne Murray through Kenny Baker, Hi-Lo Jack and the Dame, and finally the five DeMarco Sisters. Diminutive Georgia Gibbs received her catch phrase "Her nibs, Miss Gibbs" from Garry Moore when she was featured with Moore and Jimmy Durante on "The Camel Caravan," while Dinah Shore got her first national exposure when she appeared with Eddie Cantor. Ginny Simms was simply a girl singer with Kay Kyser's band until she and Harry Babbitt began singing duets on Kyser's popular "Kollege of Musical Knowledge" shows, while the Andrews Sisters turned a series of highly rated appearances on Abbott and Costello's program into their own half-hour series in 1945.

Perhaps the best showcase for the talents of a vocalist were the quarter-hour shows that aired in the early evening hours. Being just fifteen minutes long, they allowed a singer to show off their abilities by singing a song or two, participating in the commercial, introducing a guest and perhaps performing a duet with them as well, then signing off until the next time. Shows like this, which aired twice, three times, or even five times a week in the same time slot, built up tremendous and loyal audiences for sponsors like Chesterfield Cigarettes ("The Chesterfield Supper Club" with Jo Stafford and Perry Como), Campbell's Soup ("Club Fifteen" with Dick Haymes, Bob Crosby, and The Andrews Sisters), Proctor & Gamble ("The Jack Smith Show" for Oxydol, with occasional co-hosts that included Margaret Whiting and Dinah Shore), Old Gold Cigarettes ("Songs by Sinatra"), and Miles Laboratories ("Curt Massey Time" with the country-tinged baritone as host and co-star Martha Tilton joining Massey in solos and duets). Unlike comedy or variety programs, which frequently required the singer to also do comedy bits, these simple little musical shows gave audiences the chance to get to know the personality of a performer, enjoy a few tunes, then look forward to hearing them again in a day or two.

In this collection, Radio Archives turns the spotlight on fourteen of the most popular vocalists and musical ensembles of the mid-20th century, appearing in thirty full length radio broadcasts dating from the last years of the war through the late 1950s. Some of the rare shows in this set come from network transcriptions, while others are as recorded by the Armed Forces Radio Service for broadcast to service men and women. A few of the programs featured here are AFRS edited versions of network shows, with their commercial announcements deleted for rebroadcast, while others are programs produced and distributed by various government agencies.

Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore, circa 1946Hailing from Winchester, Tennessee, Frances Rose Shore was first heard on Nashville's WSM and later came to the attention of disc jockey Martin Block, who featured her on his popular "Make Believe Ballroom" shows over WNEW New York. Block also inspired her name change, as he initially remembered her as "that 'Dinah' girl" after she had auditioned for him with that tune. By 1940, she was the bluesy vocalist on NBC's "Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street" program and soon signed a contract to appear regularly on Eddie Cantor's popular weekly comedy show.

It was during the war years, however, that she really came into her own, with many appearances on Armed Forces Radio's star-studded "Command Performance," live shows for servicemen and women, and her own half-hour series, "Call for Music," in 1943. A series of best-selling recordings soon followed and her career, which would ultimately last for over five decades, was firmly established.

Dinah Shore's southern-tinged vocals can be heard here in two rare half-hour programs produced by the AFRS for military broadcast and never heard by civilian audiences. "Showtime" offers a musical tour of Broadway's show tunes, featuring the Joe Lilly Chorus, the Les Paul Trio, and Meredith Willson and the AFRS Orchestra. As extras, one program features a guest appearance by Rudy Vallee and the other, a tribute to composer Jerome Kern, contains a surprise guest appearance by the composer himself, just months before his death in November 1945.

Showtime (#152), with the Joe Lilly Chorus, Meredith Willson and the AFRS Orchestra, and guest Jerome Kern
1945 - 30:00 - AFRS

Showtime (#150), with the Les Paul Trio, Tinker Freeman, Meredith Willson and the AFRS Orchestra, and guest Rudy Vallee
1945 - 30:00 - AFRS


Jo Stafford

Jo Stafford in 1948First trained as a classical soprano, Jo Stafford began her professional career in the late 1930s by touring with her two sisters in a country music act. By 1939, she was singing lead with the vocal group The Pied Pipers and began appearing on radio with the Tommy Dorsey band. Though much of her time was spent backing up Dorsey's other singer, Frank Sinatra, Stafford scored a number of solo recordings with the band, including such hits as "Manhattan Serenade" and "Little Man with a Candy Cigar." She and the group remained with Dorsey until 1942, when they left for a contract with Capitol Records.

Stafford soon decided on a solo career and, thanks to her connections with Capitol's co-owner Johnny Mercer, found a spot on his popular "Chesterfield Music Shop" programs along with the Pipers and her soon-to-be-husband, bandleader/arranger Paul Weston. Stafford continued on the program after Mercer's departure, becoming co-host when Perry Como joined the show in 1945, but always remained, in her words, "a frustrated group singer" and frequently performed and recorded with The Satisfiers (named for the Chesterfield slogan "They Satisfy!") and The Starlighters. Nicknamed "GI Jo" for her many appearances and recordings for servicemen and women during World War II, Stafford's popularity continued throughout the decade and would become even greater in the 1950s, when hits like "Shrimp Boats" and "You Belong to Me" would establish her as one of the best-selling vocalists of the decade.

The pure, smooth, and distinctive voice of Jo Stafford is heard in a collection of four programs - three from her long-running "Chesterfield Supper Club" series and one similar program from "Guest Star," a public service show produced for the US Treasury. Additional delights are guest appearances by Alan Reed, in the guise of his "Allen's Alley" poet Fallstaff Openshaw, and the four Mills Brothers, who perform some of their wonderful rhythmic harmony tunes.

Guest Star, with the Starlighters, Paul Weston and his Orchestra, and announcer Tom Reddy
Sunday, May 22, 1949 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Treasury Department for Savings Bonds

The Chesterfield Supper Club, with the Satisfiers, Paul Weston and his Orchestra, and guests the Mills Brothers
Wednesday, April 10, 1946 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS Rebroadcast

The Chesterfield Supper Club, with the Satisfiers, Paul Weston and his Orchestra, and guest Alan Reed
Wednesday, April 17, 1946 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS Rebroadcast

The Chesterfield Supper Club, with the Starlighters and Paul Weston and his Orchestra
1950 - 15:00 - NBC/AFRS Rebroadcast

Martha Tilton and Jack Smith

Liltin' Martha Tilton in 1946Jack SmithFor some reason, vocalists of the 1940s often ended up with catch phrases attached to their names - and Liltin' Martha Tilton and Smiling Jack Smith were no exceptions. Both found their initial fame in Los Angeles in the 1930s, but their careers seldom diverged until they both found renewed solo popularity on network radio in the post-war years.

Much of Martha Tilton's early professional life was spent touring with big bands, beginning with Jimmy Dorsey in 1936 and hitting it big with Benny Goodman in August 1937. Tilton performed both solo and with a vocal group, Three Hits and a Miss, scoring number one hits with "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" and "And the Angels Sing" with Goodman, then spent the war years appearing in a series of B-movies, touring military bases with Jack Benny, and recording a number of popular hits with Capitol Records. She enjoyed many radio appearances, co-starring with Curt Massey on a long-running early evening series for Miles Laboratories and eventually taking the series to television in the early 1950s.

Jack Smith, known throughout his career as "The Man with a Smile in his Voice" thanks to his bright and sunny way with a song, began his professional career as part of The Three Ambassadors, which replaced Bing Crosby and The Rhythm Boys at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in 1931. The trio, in which Smith sang the lead, performed with Gus Arnheim and his Orchestra for about a year, after which the trio joined with a new band formed by Arnheim's pianist Jimmy Grier and moved to San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Hotel for a lengthy stay. In addition to trio work, Smith worked throughout the decade in choral groups at various movie studios and on a variety of radio shows and, by 1939, decided to pursue a solo career. Breaks soon came his way, with stints on CBS's "Glamour Manor" comedy series with Cliff Arquette and "The Prudential Hour" with Gladys Swarthout and host Deems Taylor. (It was Taylor, by the way, who dubbed him "Smiling Jack.") By 1945, Smith had a five-a-week musical series on CBS for Oxydol, which would run continuously for eight solid years.

The Liltin' Ms. Tilton is heard here in four radio programs, one as a solo, one with Curt Massey that features some delightful duets, and two as the guest of Smiling Jack during the first year of his popular series for Oxydol Soap.

Stars for Defense (#6), with George Cates and his Orchestra and announcer Ford Pearson
1952 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the Office of Price Stabilization

Curt Massey Time, with Country Washburn and his Orchestra and announcer Charles Lyon
Friday, June 17, 1949 - 15:00 - CBS, sponsored by Alka Seltzer and One-A-Day Vitamins

The Jack Smith Show, with Earl Sheldon and his Music and announcer Don Hancock
Friday, December 14, 1945 - 15:00 - CBS, sponsored by Oxydol Soap

The Jack Smith Show, with Earl Sheldon and his Music and announcer Don Hancock
Monday, December 17, 1945 - 15:00 - CBS, sponsored by Oxydol Soap

The Andrews Sisters

The "queens of the jukebox," the Andrews Sisters in 1943For anyone who lived through World War II, the image is indelible: three beautiful babes with swept back hairdos, dressed in snappy military uniforms, trucking and jiving in perfect three-part harmony to some of the swingingest tunes of the 1940s. It's the Andrews Sisters, the queens of the jukebox, and easily the best loved singing group of the war years.

Born in Minnesota, Patti, Maxene, and LaVerne Andrews spent the early 1930s in vaudeville and touring with the Larry Rich band before hitting New York City and a star-making appearance at the Hotel Edison in 1937. Hiring on enthusiastic manager Lou Levy, they soon signed a recording contract with Decca Records and scored a massive hit with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon," a revival of a little-known klezmer tune from 1933. Performing with Vic Schoen's studio band, they quickly began racking up hit after hit and eventually contracted to appear with Glenn Miller's up and coming band on a three-a-week series for Chesterfield Cigarettes in 1939. Always diverse, the girls in their hey-day performed a broad mixture of tunes - everything from boogie-woogie to calypso-tinged novelty numbers to heartfelt ballads, always with equal charm, appeal, and perfect harmony.

Hollywood called in 1940, where they were featured as guest stars in a number of popular but forgettable films with Abbott and Costello, the Ritz Brothers, and various big bands, but their time in Los Angeles led to many radio appearances - particularly with Bing Crosby, with whom they would make a series of classic recordings. They were tireless in performing for GI audiences, both overseas and stateside, where memorable numbers like "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," "Roll Out the Barrel," and "Strip Polka" provided a welcome morale boost for soldiers, sailors, and Marines. They also appeared in their own radio series on both the Blue Network (ABC) and CBS and, postwar, their joined baritone Dick Haymes on "Club Fifteen" for Campbell's Soup.

In this collection, the Andrews Sisters are heard in three shows dating from 1945-1950: they join "Club Fifteen" co-star Dick Haymes and announcer Win Elliot for two "Guest Star" programs on behalf of US Savings Bonds and, in a musical program from 1945, they're welcomed by host Edward Everett Horton to "The Kraft Music Hall," where they are joined by announcer Les Tremayne (who royally messes up the opening billboard), violinist Joseph Engelhardt, and - newly returned from two years overseas with Major Glenn Miller's legendary AAF band - singer Johnny Desmond in his first postwar radio appearance.

Guest Star: "Club Fifteen" with Dick Haymes, Jerry Gray and his Orchestra, and announcer Del Sharbutt
Sunday, January 8, 1950 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Treasury Department for Savings Bonds

Guest Star, with host Win Elliot and Denes Agay and the Savings Bonds Orchestra
1947 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Treasury Department for Savings Bonds

The Kraft Music Hall, with Edward Everett Horton, Sgt. Johnny Desmond, violinist Joseph Engelhardt, Raymond Paige and his Orchestra, and announcer Les Tremayne
Thursday, September 6, 1945 - 30:00 - NBC/AFRS Rebroadcast

Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby

Rosemary Clooney, circa 1953Bing Crosby in 1944First performing with her sister Betty at political rallies for her grandfather, Rosemary Clooney established a singing career that would span six decades and inspire many a vocalist to follow in her footsteps. As for her semi-mentor and frequent singing partner Bing Crosby - well, little remains to be said other than the fact that this part-time drummer and rhythm singer from Spokane, Washington would rise to a fame and lasting greatness that even he could not have foreseen.

Auditioning at age seventeen for bandleader Tony Pastor, Kentucky-born Rosemary Clooney and sister Betty quickly embarked on a nation-wide series of one-nighters as the Clooney Sisters. When Betty decided to leave show business in 1948, Rosemary stayed on as a solo with Pastor. By 1950, she had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, where her warm, husky, and melodious voice scored big with a number of catchy ballads and novelties including "Come On-A My House," "Tenderly," and "Hey There." Appearances in Hollywood films and in a 1950s syndicated television series led, in 1954, to a co-starring role with Bing Crosby in Irving Berlin's classic "White Christmas," a yuletide favorite that cemented a relationship with the friendly and easy-going crooner that would last until his death in 1977.

Thanks to her friendship with Crosby - who felt that their voices blended well together - Clooney made many radio and television appearances with Bing, both on his own shows and specials and in a pre-recorded daytime CBS series titled "The Crosby-Clooney Show" in the late 1950s. In this CD set, you can enjoy performance by both singers - together and separately - in radio appearances dating from 1953 thru 1959. In the first, we hear a rare example of Clooney's quarter-hour radio series for CBS, featuring the Buddy Cole Trio, followed by a guest spot with Ray Bloch and his Orchestra for the US Government, and concluding with a delightful guest appearance with Bing and his long-time announcer Ken Carpenter on one of Crosby's CBS shows for General Electric.

The Rosemary Clooney Show, with the Buddy Cole Trio and announcer Johnny Jacobs
Thursday, November 4, 1954 - 15:00 - CBS, sustaining

Stars for Defense (#123) with Ray Bloch and his Orchestra and announcer Ken Carpenter
Sunday, February 8, 1959 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Civil Defense Administration

The Bing Crosby Show, with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and announcer Ken Carpenter
Sunday, November 22, 1953 - 30:00 - CBS, sponsored by General Electric

Helen Forrest

Helen Forrest, in a 1942 promotional photograph for Chesterfield CigarettesKnown in later years as "The Voice of the Name Bands," Helen Forrest was one of the most popular and recognizable female vocalists of the Big Band Era. In a career that would extend from the late 1920s through the early 1990s, she displayed a singing style that was both unique and familiar to audiences who had been enjoying her smooth and powerful voice since her early days with Artie Shaw and Harry James.

Born Helen Fogel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Forrest got her first semi-professional experience at the age of 10, singing with her brother's dance band, and spent much of the 1930s singing on various CBS radio programs under the generic name Bonnie Blue. In early 1939, bandleader Artie Shaw heard one of her broadcasts and hired her as a vocalist with his newly formed orchestra, where she would spend much of the year recording and touring. By the end of 1939, Benny Goodman hired her away and she continued her career as a band singer in 1941 with a highly successful move to the Harry James band. It was with James that she would record her most memorable and best-selling records, including "I Had the Craziest Dream" and "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," inspiring her to pursue a solo career in 1943.

On radio, Forrest cemented her popularity by appearing with James on his popular series for Chesterfield Cigarettes - a program he had inherited from fellow bandleader Glenn Miller when Miller joined the Army in 1942. During the war, she also made many personal appearances with the band as they toured military bases and recorded a series of musical "Personal Album" shows for Armed Forces Radio. Later in the decade, after leaving James, she recorded primarily with Gordon Jenkins and his studio orchestra and would later join Dick Haymes on the popular "Club Fifteen" radio series.

With a powerful yet subtle voice that lends tremendous personality and warmth to ballads, pop songs, and even jump tunes, Helen Forrest remains one of the best-loved performers of the 1940s and 1950s -- and her talents are demonstrated here in four programs from 1944 and 1945. Whether accompanied by the smooth and shimmering arrangements of Gordon Jenkins or the simple (and rather pedestrian) piano of Jack Carroll, Forrest's taste and very personalized way with a lyric shine through. When you hear these little-known shows, in fact, her intimate style may almost make you think she's singing just for you alone.

Music for Millions, with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra and announcer Bud Hiestand
Fall 1945 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Treasury Department for War Bonds

Personal Album (#732), with Jack Carroll at the piano
1944 - 15:00 - AFRS

Personal Album (#772), with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra
1944 - 15:00 - AFRS

Personal Album (#631), with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra
1944 - 15:00 - AFRS

Connee Boswell

Connee Boswell in 1943When you hear her sing, you hear echoes of both those who influenced her - jazz performers like Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and Louis Armstrong - and those who she influenced as well, such as Ella Fitzgerald. She worked with some of the best performers of her time, yet she is little remembered today. But to hear her casual, yet professional and unique sound is to hear a legendary performer in action.

Raised in New Orleans, Connee Boswell first came to the attention of audiences while singing with her sisters Martha and Helvetia as the Boswell Sisters, one of the first vocal ensembles to mix close-knit harmonies with authentic black-inspired jazz. Connee (who not only sang but also played piano, saxophone, trombone, and cello) had, along with her sisters, acquired considerable musical skills in their hometown, as well as a disdain for the gimmicky novelty tunes normally sung by trios. While still teenagers, the girls performed on radio and their unique sound quickly led to the recording studios, where they worked with such noted jazzmen as Bunny Berigan, Jimmy Dorsey, and Tommy Dorsey. Tours of both the United States and Europe followed and, when all three sisters married in the mid-1930s, only Connee chose to continue performing -- this time, as a solo artist.

It was little known at the time, but Connee Boswell had contracted polio at the age of four and, through all of her years performing, was confined to a wheelchair. Rather than allow this to hamper her, however, she instead simply had special lengthy dresses designed for her and generally either performed seated on a piano bench or a stool. (During the war, she made a point of visiting and performing for servicemen who had been maimed in combat, performing from her wheelchair and demonstrating that there indeed was much life still to be lived despite the loss of an arm or a leg.) Much appreciated by Bing Crosby, who also enjoyed singing duets with her, Connee was a semi-regular on Crosby's "Kraft Music Hall" programs of the early 1940s and also appeared in occasional series of her own - often as the summer replacement for other shows. Likewise, she headlined her own postwar series for the fledgling ABC Radio Network, joined by comic Jerry Lester, and appeared in a brief CBS series for Eversharp-Schick - a series from which both of the programs in this collection are taken.

Aired live in May of 1946, Connee is joined on these shows by Bobby Doyle, a young vocalist she had discovered and taken under her wing, as well as sportscaster Ted Husing, Ray Bloch and his Orchestra, announcer Ken Roberts, and nightclub and burlesque comedians Jan Murray and Joe Besser. The comedy in the second of these two shows may be a bit dated - radio producers always seemed to saddle poor Connee with low comics as sidekicks - but the music is truly wonderful.

Tonight on Broadway, with Bobby Doyle, Ted Husing, Ray Bloch and his Orchestra, and announcer Ken Roberts
Monday, May 13, 1946 - 30:00 - CBS, sponsored by Eversharp Schick Razors and Blades

The Eversharp Schick Varieties, with Bobby Doyle, Ted Husing, Ray Bloch and his Orchestra, announcer Ken Roberts, and guests Jan Murray and Joe Besser
Monday, May 20, 1946 - 30:00 - CBS, sponsored by Eversharp Schick Razors and Blades

Georgia Gibbs and The Merry Macs

Georgia Gibbs in a CBS photograph from 1946"You don't really know loneliness unless you do a year or two with a one-night band. Sing until about 2:00 AM. Get in a bus and drive 400 miles. Stop in the night for a greasy hamburger. Arrive in a town. Try to sleep. Get up and eat." That's Georgia Gibbs, remembering her early days with the big bands of Frankie Trumbauer, Hal Kemp, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw. Yet, even at that time, it was clear to her that such a life was preferable to the one she had known growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Traveling from town to town was, by the mid-1930s, nothing new for Ted, Judd, and Joe McMichael and their female cohort Helen Carroll. As The Merry Macs, they had taken their unique combination of close harmony singing, rhythm, and xylophone accompaniment from their hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota to radio shows and personal appearances coast to coast.

With their distinctive rhythmic vocal style and xylophone accompaniment, The Merry Macs had one of the most unique and recognizable "sounds" of any vocal group of the 1940s.It would take until 1945 for Gibbs and The Merry Macs to appear together, along with bandleader Paul Whiteman, on a radio series for The Blue Network -- and, by that time, all would have achieved many of their dreams of fame and success. But the road getting there had not been easy. Georgia Gibbs, born Fredda Gibbons, spent her first seven years in an orphanage, placed there by her mother when her father died before she was six months old. Able to visit her only now and then, her mother had left her with a Philco radio for company -- to which Fredda listened and imagined a better life. By the age of 13, her remarkable voice got her a job singing in Boston's Raymor Ballroom, leading to a job with the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra in 1936. Recordings with the band led to work on popular radio shows, including "Your Hit Parade" and "Melody Puzzles." By this time, she had changed her name to Fredda Gibson - the name under which she recorded her first hit record, "Absent Minded Moon," in 1942 - and then changed it again in 1943 to Georgia Gibbs, when she landed a contract to appear with Garry Moore and Jimmy Durante as the vocalist on "The Camel Caravan."

Meantime, the Merry Macs had been appearing with Fred Allen on his "Town Hall Tonight" shows for NBC and had also toured as a featured act with Glenn Miller's orchestra and other big bands. Their distinctive sound had also taken them to Hollywood as featured performers with Jack Benny and Abbott & Costello and had also led to major recording successes: "Hawaiian War Chant," "The Hut Sut Song," "Mairzy Doats," and, during the war, the popular patriotic number, "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." Along the way, there had been changes in personnel, with first Mary Lou Cook and, later, Marjory Garland added to the mix.

In the summer of 1945, Paul Whiteman - the "King of Jazz," who had lately been hired to be the musical director of The Blue Network - was putting together a summer series and hired both "Her Nibs, Miss Gibbs" and The Merry Macs to appear on the weekly show, along with pianist Earl Wild. The result was a tuneful musical series featuring definitive examples of the Whiteman brand of showmanship - including extensive production numbers and a full mixed choir. Represented here by two half-hour programs, the series gave Georgia Gibbs ample opportunities to demonstrate her vocal skills, as well as the chance for The Merry Macs to show why they were so uniquely popular for so long.

The Georgia Gibbs and Paul Whiteman Show, with The Merry Macs, pianist Earl Wild, and announcer Glenn Riggs
Sunday, July 22, 1945 - 30:00 - Blue Network/AFRS Rebroadcast

The Georgia Gibbs and Paul Whiteman Show, with The Merry Macs, pianist Earl Wild, and announcer Glenn Riggs
Sunday, June 24, 1945 - 30:00 - Blue Network/AFRS Rebroadcast

Ginny Simms

Fetching Ginny Simms in an MGM photo from 1943Born in Texas and raised in California, Ginny Simms had studied piano as a child but decided instead to pursue a singing career while attending Fresno State Teachers College. A extra-curricular San Francisco nightclub engagement in 1937 brought her vocal talents to the attention of bandleader Kay Kyser, who was at the time putting together a radio version of the well-received "Kollege of Musical Knowledge" portion of his band's personal appearance tours. It didn't escape Kyser's attention that Simms not only sang well; she was also a very attractive and charming young lady.

Simms' appearances with the band, both on records and on radio, took her to Hollywood in 1939, when Kyser's popularity led to a movie contract with RKO Radio Pictures. Possessing a solid voice, as well as a wholesome personality and girl-next-door looks, Ginny looked good on-screen and soon began to receive featured spots on radio shows, as well as offers to appear solo. She stayed loyal to Kyser until 1942 - it was rumored that they were romantically inclined, but that Kyser was reluctant to propose - then left to accept an offer from Philip Morris Cigarettes to host her own weekly half-hour musical series, which also featured short-wave interviews with servicemen serving throughout the world. At the same time, she appeared in many musical films for both Universal and MGM, including an appearance in an Abbott & Costello comedy, "Hit the Ice" (1943). When Philip Morris bowed out at the end of the 1944-45 radio season, Ginny went with the Borden Company for a similar show, this time featuring well-known guest stars and performances by newly-discharged GI's who wanted to pursue careers in show business. It is from this series that the two programs in this collection are taken, featuring Frank De Vol and his Orchestra and guest appearances by song and dance man Gene Kelly and teen heartthrob Frank Sinatra -- both complete with screamingly appreciative female fans in the studio audience. It's particularly fun to hear the singing commercials for Borden's Milk, complete with full chorus -- and cowbell, of course.

The Ginny Simms Show, with Frank De Vol and his Orchestra, The Borden Chorus, Al Williams, announcer Kenny Delmar, and guest Gene Kelly
Friday, January 11, 1946 - 30:00 - CBS, sponsored by Borden

The Ginny Simms Show, with Frank De Vol and his Orchestra, The Borden Chorus, John Brown, announcer Don Wilson, and guest Frank Sinatra
Friday, December 28, 1945 - 30:00 - CBS, sponsored by Borden

Margaret Whiting

Capitol Records recording artist Margaret Whiting, in a promotional photo from 1947If anyone could claim to have been born into the music business, it's vocalist Margaret Whiting. The daughter of popular songwriter Richard Whiting ("Japanese Sandman," "Sleepy-time Gal," "Too Marvelous for Words," and a host of others) and the niece of 1920s singer Margaret Young, Whiting and her sister Barbara were raised in an atmosphere of melody. As a child of only seven, Margaret displayed considerable talent with a song, bringing her to the attention of vocalist and songwriter Johnny Mercer who occasionally featured her on his "Your Hit Parade" series for Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

When Mercer and music store owner Glenn Wallachs formed Capitol Records in 1942, Margaret Whiting was one of the first vocalists they signed to a contract. She began her recording career singing musical refrains on recordings by such orchestras as those of Freddy Slack and Billy Butterfield, but gradually developed her own following and began recording hits under her own name in 1945. She remained one of Mercer's favorite singers and he often paired her with other singers for duet recordings, including such classics as "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Mercer himself and the best-selling "Slipping Around" with country-western singer Jimmy Wakely. On the air, Whiting was either a regular or guested on many of the popular musical and variety shows of the 1940s, including stints with Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, and the earliest version of "Club Fifteen" in 1943.

To conclude this collection, we present Margaret Whiting in four fifteen-minute shows dating from 1949 thru 1952 - a fine collection of musical performances that feature Ms. Whiting performing at the peak of her career, as well as co-starring with talented performers like Jack Smith and Buddy Clark.

The Oxydol Show, with Jack Smith and Frank DeVol and his Orchestra
1950 - 15:00 - CBS, sponsored by Oxydol Soap

Guest Star, with Buddy Clark, Ted Dale and his Orchestra, and announcer Jimmy Wallington
Monday, June 12, 1949 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the US Treasury Department for Savings Bonds

Navy Star Time, with Buzz Adlam and his Orchestra and announcer Hy Averback
Saturday, May 17, 1952 - 15:00 - Sponsored by US Navy Recruitment

Here's to Veterans
1954 - 15:00 - Sponsored by the Veterans Administration


Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 | Total Reviews: 1 Write a review

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
 
More Musical OTR, Please! September 18, 2009
Reviewer: H. Joe Ware  
Your work is outstanding! More musical OTR, please!

Was this review helpful to you?

RadioArchives.com

 About Us
 Privacy Policy
 Send Us Feedback