Monday, February 28, 2011

Added a place for OTR Buffet's soundbites

There they are...

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The Day Lou Costello's son drowned

(Click to enlarge)

Interview questions for others trigger memories

As I stated earlier today, I am in the process of setting up interviews with others on the internet who also enjoy OTR and I really look forward to reading their replies to my questions.

One of the questions I am posng to those who are kind enough to respond to my interview requests is about their first memories of hearing old-time radio.

I'd like to tell my early radio connections, as well as I can remember.

The world around me seem to change in the summer before my 11th birthday.  It was that summer that I got my first guitar and learned to play from a booklet.  It was the summer that I discovered what stereo what - as opposed to mono - when I got a pair of headphones and plugged them into a stereo (everything I had before that was mono.  I had no idea what stereo was or even what it sounded like.)

These aural associations all came about the same time I discovered my love for baseball - and radio.  Baseball and radio go hand in hand for me and always will.

One night when I wasn't listening to baseball, I remember listening to KRLD in Dallas.   KRLD was a CBS station and late at night (it was probably 11 pm)  I discovered CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

I really didn't like the show that much (still don't today) but if I recall correctly, they used to have old-time radio shows on before 11:00 and I found that via a commercial broadcast during one of the CBSMT episodes.

This is where I found out about Lum and Abner (it was probably one of the crummy 30 minute Lum and Abner shows.)  I also recall Nightbeat very vividly because of the kettle drums in the opening musical sequence and the deep (or so I remembered), "NIGHTBEAT!" voice.

Years later, I would think of the show, not remembering the name of it, thinking it was "WALKBEAT" and in my mind I would always confuse Nightbeat with the show Broadway is My Beat, another show I used to hear when I was a kid with a radio.

I also remember Groucho in You Bet Your Life and I recall vividly how it would come on at 11pm on televison in 1975 syndication - later I heard it on the radio!

Somewhere along the line I found a bunch of comedies to occupy my time on the radio.  I really don't remember Jack Benny or Fibber McGee and Molly at all, but I do remember Our Miss Brooks, Life of Riley and Abbott and Costello, too.

When I had become older and moved out of the house in days long before I was married, I recall finding OTR again.  I have no idea what I listened to but I would always get a thrill when Nightbeat came on and this time, I would remember the name.

I had given up on OTR for years because no stations I knew were playing it - but in 1995 when I first got the internet I realized I wasn't the only one who had a love for OTR.

It seems in the early days - maybe until only 2 or 3 years ago, people were reluctant to give away OTR as freely as it is given away today.  But the internet has opened it up so completely now that it will never stop as long as there is the internet.

Well, that's my story.  I know you all have stories too.  I'd like to put your story in my blog.  If you would like to be a part of this, please email me.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

For the love of Agnes Moorehead! (Hodge-podge)

Worn to a frazzle.   Worn to a frazzzzzzz ull!  For the past couple of days I have been revamping the blog, cleaning stuff up, making stuff better - I am trying to set up and write some interviews that should appear here next week with some big OTR fans... bascially, I've been busy.

So I have nothing planned for today.  Oops!  Sometimes, when there's nothing planned for the blog, that's when I write best - so here it goes...

Agnes Moorehead
I thought I might tell you what's popular in OTR.   The reason I know is I can tell from my blog numbers that if Agnes Moorehead is mentioned, she gets a lot of attention.  She gets more attention than Orson Welles for some reason.  Is this because of TV/Bewitched?   I have no idea.

I like Agnes, I really do - but I was first introduced to her via Bewitched and I've always thought of her as evil!

I know now, especially after listening to her on her 4 minutes of OTR's This I Believe, that she probably wasn't evil at all.

The Shadow is popular too.  While I enjoy The Shadow, it's certainly not one of those shows I would think people would flock to; for one thing, the sound is bad in a lot of the shows - and those are the ones that star Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead!  So why is The Shadow popular?  Plus, as I have Hodge-podged before, the whole Shadow thing is just goofy.

Something else that is popular is Pepsodent.  If I put a Pepsodent ad up, they get a lot of attention as well.  Bob Hope be hanged - but Pepsodent ads starring Bob Hope draw people in like flies.  Are the people who make Pepsodent the ones looking at the blog?  Who knows.?

This blog is  popular in Russia.  I never knew that Russians listened to American old-time radio but I suppose they do.

The Halls of Ivy get a lot of attention as well - but I can see that.  The Halls of Ivy is a fantastic show with a lot of charm.
You may recall a while back I wrote about Canadian OTR.  I still haven't found any information about it - I'm hoping I can find a Canadian fan on Twitter with whom I can do an interview about it.  I think we all would find it interesting to find out exactly what kind of shows were popular up there that were done in Canada. I know Canadians listened to a lot of American shows (this I know from Canadian radio schedules.)

Examine the following schedule from The Vancouver Sun in the late 1940's:

As you can see, they could listen to Suspense on two stations (I take it one of the stations is in Seattle) and if you look on the far right side, you see station CKMO, which looks to be playing nothing but Canadian-made radio. While some of it is obviously local programming, there is some national programming as well, especially in prime time, you'd think.

You see I have also highlighted a few shows I have never heard of before - are those Canadian? Were they national?

If you are from Canada and would like to help answer those questions, you can leave a comment and let us know. Or let me know via Twitter, @Jimbo_OTR.
It says in the book, On the Air that Henry Aldrich of the Aldrich Family was described as "typical" and "not at all typical" at the same time in reviews...

I think he's atypical for the fact that as goofy as he may seem, Henry seems pretty smart - certainly smarter than the kids his age I know. :)

©Jimbo 2010/2011

March of old time/Feb. 28

55 years ago...
Dragnet 560228 Big Want
Suspense 560228 The Diary Of Captain Scott 

60 years ago...
Halls of Ivy 510228  French Scholarship 
Crime Does Not Pay 510228 Operation Payroll 

65 years ago...
Superman ... 460228 The Radar Rocket Part 10

70 years ago...
Lum and Abner 410228 Abner Runs for School Board President

75 years ago...
Front Page Drama 360228 The Remover Man

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Various things

If you're a regular to the blog you can see a variety of changes made in the past couple of days.  Should make for a sleeker, speedier load-up.  Also highlites some stuff for the new visitor.

I'm in the process of making some of the very first posts (provided by newspaper clippings) better looking and larger.  (Surely you know you can make things larger on the blog simply by clicking them, correct?)

I added a list of all my full reviews (not the short ones, though.) You can also find a list of stuff "not to miss" on the site - some of my favorite things - I think you'll like them too if you've never seen them before.

I even expanded my own profile a bit, if anyone cares to read it.  It really doesn't say much.  :)

All that new stuff is at the top of the blog now.

Anyway, if you see any problems, please give me a shout in the comments.

Large Pepsodent ad - Bob Hope again!

Review: Box 13

Alan Ladd
The very first thing I think about when my mind turns to Alan Ladd is his indistinguishable features among a group of men near the end of the classic film, Citizen Kane. Ladd plays a reporter and there's no way you can know that it's him unless someone tells you or you've read it.

Ladd has led a similar, undistinguished career. Other than the film, Shane, Ladd's movie career is one mediocre film after another (and he's really not that good in Shane, anyway.) And especially in tough guy roles - he's not tough.

Lending his talents to radio - and his own company, Ladd acted and produced in 52 episodes of Box 13. As Dan Holiday the fiction writer, he put a perpetual advertisement in the paper seeking adventure for background he could use in his writing.  The advertisement went something like this:
Adventure wanted - will go anywhere or do anything. Contact Box 13
Intriguing? Yes! But Ladd is blander on radio than in the movies; his demeanor is cool but not "cool" - in other words, he's boring. Imagine the same show with William Conrad, Jack Webb, Orson Welles or even Burgess Meredith playing Holiday.  Bob Bailey (Let George Do It) and Ladd could have switched places and each show would have been MUCH better.  You get the point? Ladd underplays the part.

Sylvia Picker (in earlier days)
The scripts are not very good either. As a matter of fact, I find them to be somewhat silly. Somehow, Ladd becomes not an adventure-seeker, but a pseudo detective in the show. The script uses Hitchcockian MacGuffins and reverse MacGuffins (if there are such things - in other words, the scripts make a big deal out of something that couldn't possibly be true and if it were, it would take Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes to find these things out - and Ladd is no Sherlock Holmes!) 

The combination of  poor scripts and Ladd underplaying every scene is somewhat tempered by his ninny secretary Suzy (Sylvia Picker.)  Some people find her funny - but when I listen to the show, I raise my eyebrows when she speaks as she is just so different from the comotose Ladd. Her parts are very small and her parts are "ditzy."

Ladd is the star - he drives the show and though he doesn't wreck it - he's on the Highway to Nowhere.  The show has no thrill - with an advertisement like he has - you'd figure there would be some excitement somewhere in 30 minutes of radio.

I do listen to the show regularly but it's only filler stuff for me.  The DigitalDeli gives the script high marks and likes Ladd.  I know people who think highly of the show as well.  Not so for me - I'll be contented to be in the minority.

I give it barely 2 stars.

Abner is clean out of his mind!

Lum wants to dam up up the creek...

There will be a delay of a few seconds before the clip starts:

March of old-time/Feb. 27

60 years ago...
The Lineup 510227 The Molly About Seven Case
Fibber McGee & Molly 510227 Trip To Peoria

65 years ago...
Mr. & Mrs. North 460227 An Invitation To Murde

75 years ago...
Green Hornet 360227 Trouble Hits The Trollys

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And speaking of the Lone Ranger...

Vote for Gracie!

Also see this and this.

Tiny review: The Lone Ranger

"Here's what we'll do.  I'll stay here and you, my Indian friend, will go to town."

The Lone Ranger was a juvenile Western series that lasted more than 21 years on the air.

It's formula was almost always the same: a plot of some evil kind was being hatched by some henchmen; the Lone Ranger and Tonto would get wind of it.  The Ranger would send Tonto into town to spy or to pick up some useful information.  When Tonto didn't return, the Ranger would worry or suspect something drastic had happened to Tonto.  The Ranger would find out where the crooks were hiding, free Tonto and they both would mop up the bad guys - and sometimes the sheriff (who had suspected the Lone Ranger was a bad guy because he wore a mask) would help with the rescue and then apologize, embarrassed.  This happened on at least three-quarters of the shows.

For a better review, just listen to Bill Cosby:

My review: Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police

This morning makes the first time I have listened to every episode of a serial all the way through - 178 episodes, total: the 1937 juvenile series, Speed Gibson and the International Secret Police.

Howard McNear as Clint Barlow
Speed Gibson (who some say is played by Elliott Lewis - while others say it is unknown who played the part) is a 15 year-old boy who is smart, strong and loves adventure.  His uncle, Clint Barlow (played by Howard McNear in a non-sniveling voice) is a member of the Secret Police - a law enforcement agency that is involved in trying to render useless a character known as the "Octopus" and his ruthless gang of Asian henchmen.  Barlow is a master at disguises and a great believer in the use of make-up - and he and the Secret Police use it often to secrete themselves in the Asian and Arabian populations.

After young Speed konks a member of the Octopus' gang, his uncle swears him into the Secret Police. And though he's only 15, he's a very capable member of the force.  Speed will prove time and time again to be a very valuable addition to the crime-busting organization, despite the fears some have about skills and wisdom of a 15 year-old.

Also helping the Secret Police is Barney Dunlap (veteran radio actor John Gibson) - who is prone to saying, "Suffering wangdoodles!' - unfortunately, this get old after about 10 episodes.  Still, Gibson plays the same part he's played his entire life - the outside wheel that doesn't quite roll straight.

Dunlap and Barlow are both expert pilots and airplanes are used for a lot of the scenes in the radio show.

Gale Gordon in the early 1930's
The Octopus, played by Gale Gordon, is not just out to avoid the Secret Police but to do away with them forever. The Octopus is an investor of sophisticated weaponry and some other-worldy psychological machines and he will stop at nothing in his quest to rule the world.  Violence, kidnapping, smuggling and murder are all on his evil agenda.

There are two different parts of the series.  The first 100 episodes are really pretty good and deal with Speed Gibson in the Pacific -- as I have stated before, I'd put those right behind the Adventures of Superman as far as juvenile radio shows are concerned - but the next 79 episodes pale in comparison. The Secret Police are in the jungles of Africa and I don't know, it's just not the same.

For one thing, John Gibson is missing for an extended period of time (explained in the show that his character was ill in the hospital.)  He does show up again about halfway through the second series, but there is constant changeover in characters taking his place. It's sort of confusing.

Also, the Octopus is not on the show as much in the second series.

Still, a fun show, although after finishing the series now, I would rank it much lower than I have it in my original Top 75 list. Originally I had it at #30 - I'm honestly thinking now that it should go to about #55 or #56 - I'll have a revised list sometime in the future.

Mary Livingstone's sister, "Babe"

Most all of us have heard Mary Livingstone (Jack Benny's wife) speak on the air about her sister, Babe - whom she and Jack have seemed to describe her as being 'wild' (my word, not theirs.)  At least, this is the impression I get when I hear those episodes.

I found these news item from1953:

News in 1946: Eddie "Rochester" Anderson almost lost at sea

Jack Benny reflected on this incident shortly after it happened.  See the Jack Benny episode 46-02-17 574 Rochester Lost At Sea.

News in 1939: Jack Benny, George Burns arrested

March of old time/Feb.26

55 years ago...
Gunsmoke 560226 Who Lives By The Sword

60 years ago...
Inner Sanctum 510226 Man from the Grave

65 years ago...
Green Hornet 460226 The Last Of Oliver Perry
Red Skelton 460226 Telephones
Theater of Romance 460226 The Enchanted Cottage
Fibber McGee & Molly 460226 Fibber Loses His Fountain Pen

70 years ago...
Lone Ranger 410226 A Ranch Land Frame-Up
Adventures of Superman 410226 Dragon's Teeth Part 8

75 years ago...
Calling All Cars 360226 The Bloodstained Saw

Friday, February 25, 2011

Exploring Uncle Ezra and the Hoosier Hot Shots a bit

User Boston Blackie mentioned Uncle Ezra and the Hoosier Hot Shots because I posted a photo of them (in a previous post, below) and I too think Uncle Ezra and the Hoosier Hot Shots are kind of a cool thing.

For one, Uncle Ezra reminds me of what I have in my mind for a picture of Grandpappy Spears (a character played by Chester Lauck on Lum and Abner.)

I have never actually heard Uncle Ezra, so this adds to the intrique quite a bit.  As do the advertisements involving him that I found in the last few months:

Uncle Ezra with National Barn Dance
Uncle Ezra in his own show, Uncle Ezra Broadcasting
The book, "On the Air" - calls Uncle Ezra Broadcasting an "Offshoot of National Barn Dance" - which is to say (probably/maybe) that Uncle Ezra Broadcasting was the first spin-off in history, even before the Great Gildersleeve.

So Uncle Ezra - who was a comedic poet, I believe, is a famous character as far as both radio and TV are concerned because of the spin-off situation.

As far as the Hoosier Hot Shots, I haven't taken the time to listen to them (I've actually hunted Uncle Ezra stuff several times with no luck.)  Yet a look at their advertising leaves you wanting to know more, doesn't it?

Out of all of the advertisements I have found, Alka-Seltzer has the best, by far.

And now, the Hoosier Hot Shots!

And tons more, here. (Don't miss I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones...)

Awesome photos: part two

Walter Tetly (age 22)

Jerry Colonna and Patsy Kelly

Uncle Ezra (left) and the Hoosier Hot Shots

Bob Burns, Tommy Riggs, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Rudy Vallee and Joe Penner

Costello and Abbott

Phil Baker (one of my favorites)

Orson Welles about to do a CBS Worksop

Amos 'n' Andy

Awesome photos: part one

Agnes Moorehead

Art Carney

Fanny Brice doing Baby Snooks

Cast of Dr. Christian; the man in the upper-left is Gale Gordon

Gene Autry, early 1930's

Judy Canova; a beautiful girl behind that country front

Mary Livingstone and Phil Harris

Ed Gardner

Strange photo of the day (early walkie-talkies)

Gracie Allen and a CBS correspondent talk at the Democratic Convention in 1940 via walkie-talkies

Haw Shaw!

(Top Photo) Marian Jordan, Bill Thompson and Hugh Studebaker; (Lower Left) unknown; (Bottom Right) Jim Jordan

A young Marian Jordan

Bill Thompson and Jim Jordan

Kaltenmeyer's Kindergraten mid-1930's -the woman and man in the forefront center are Marian and Jim Jordan

Myrt and Marge lobby card; on the bottom is Harlow Wilcox
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