Friday, September 30, 2011

Lil Miss Tuffet, sat on a...

Whole chicken in a can

What could be better?

World hunger and radio

You might recall Duffy's Tavern did a show about world hunger (46-05-03 Archie Tells Everyone About World Hunger) which wasn't at all funny.  As a matter of fact, it was quite frightening in a lot of ways.

The Adventures of Superman also did a serial about world hunger.

Mr. Blandings...

You may remember the review here of Mr. and Mrs. Blandings.  Recall that the radio show is based on the movie, Mr. Blandings Build His Dream House.

For fans of the shows, here's a little something for you, circa 1948.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Life Begins at 80

According to the John Dunning book, On the Air: The Encylclopedia of Old Time Radio, Life Begins at 80 was a national show.

Done 'panel style' and hosted by Jack Berry (you may remember him as being the host of 1970's TV's 'Joker's Wild' game show), the show was taped and then edited because the octagnerians would really speak their minds (I would love to hear the unedited stuff!)

I can't seem to find any of the show to listen to, which is a shame.  It's a show I would really like to hear.

How Benny, Allen, Amos 'n' Andy handled coming TV dilemna

Walter Tetley's first cartoon?

Bill Thompson in 2 unusual roles

Bill Thompson, the do-it-all man of voices on Fibber McGee and Molly can be found on other shows as well, doing other voices.

I found him on Phil Harris-Alice Faye show:

And I found on him on Fibber McGee and Molly, but as a policeman and not as his usual role...
©Jimbo 2010/2011

Raffles, Punch Boards and Grab Bags

Do you ever noticed the number of episodes (especially in the 1940's) where raffles, punch boards and grab bags were large parts of the story line? Anyone have any insight as to why?

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tiny hodge-podge about Majors and minors

I hope you click the photo on the left and know that with a Blu-ray DVD, you could probably fit every piece of audio and literature in that photo onto a single disc.

That shows you how times have changed.  The world of technology and computers continues to change us all, giving us more and more information in less space and greater speeds...

When I was a kid, I remember my mom and dad talking about a 'Major Bowes.'  To me, Major Bowes was someone who must have been in the military.  I never asked about Major Bowes, I only accepted the fact that there was such a man....

Speaking of majors, both Danny Kaye (Seattle Mariners) and Bob Hope (Cleveland Indians) owned interests in Major League baseball teams...

One of my favorite films was "The Major and the Minor"; a fine film starring Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers...

The other day, I jotted down a list of kids in radio who eventually went on to TV and films: Walter Tetley, Dick Van Patten, Jackie Kelk, Dick York, Mason Adams, Bobby Breen - those are just a few.

I used to have my own radio show!

I don't think I've ever shared this with anyone.  But there was a day when I used to be a radio/TV star.

I did not have my own show, exactly.  I was always the special guest star.  In turn, I rounded up my own acts to be on the show as my own special guests.

Make no mistake though, I was the star of the show.

The above is something I would go to bed with every night, in the early days of my memory - before I found the joys of OTR.  I remember how much I enjoyed the shows I was on.  Of course, later, when I found OTR, my own fantasy world I went sleep to went away.  Not that I was ever sad about that.  My show wasn't that entertaining, although I do remember "films" of myself running down the street and playing baseball and football (I'm sure whatever "audience members" who saw the show were bored to death, haha.)

As I have recounted on here before, I found the joys of Nightbeat, Lum and Abner, Broadway is My Beat, Our Miss Brooks and a few other shows in 1973.

[Interesting story about the radio I had when I was 9/10 years old.  It melted.   It melted when I went to the beach one day.  I left it out in the sun and when I came back - maybe an hour later - it melted.  It was the darndest thing.  No one ever believes me, just like no one ever believes me when I tell then I grew corn from a wayward popcorn kernal in a sink in 1983, but that's another story...]

Old time radio changed the way I fell asleep.  While I went to bed at 9 or 10 or 11 at night, I'd lie there listening to this "new thing" I had found.  Instead of killing my imaginative dreams of my own show, I just imagined what was going on in the radio shows.

And though I've told this before, oh, how lucky I was to hear Nightbeat.  Every night I waited for the announcer to say, "At _ o'clock, we'll play Nightbeat."  Only every once in a while did that happen.  It was one of life's sweet early joys.

To this day, I have no idea why I enjoyed that show so much.  It certainly does not affect me now as it did then...

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The Judy Garland kidnap plot

Memories of Wistful Vista

Click here

Meredith Willson and His Talking People

The best show opening and commercials, in my opinion, were the ones done by Meredith Willson and his Talking People in 1948 on the Aldrich Family. The sponsor was Jell-o.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Found: Quiet Please website

Thanks to Twitter friend Sarah Cole who found a website about the show, Quiet Please.   A quick run over the site looks like there is some good stuff there and I will add it to the links on the bottom right of this site.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

A challenge to you: explore Vic and Sade

As you probably know,  I have several other blogs.  One of those blogs is The Crazy World of Vic and Sade.

I know (from looking at the statistics) that very few of you visit the blog.  But even if you aren't a fan of the series I think if you followed the blog, you'd get something out of it.

I spend up to 5 hours a day working on that blog.  Most of that time is spent attempting to fix the sound the best way I can.  It's not a simple case of running some program that automatically fixes it, because 90% of the time, it will not fix things.  So I have to go in there and piece by piece,  jot and tittle, fix what I can fix.  Since I appreciate the show so much, I do what I do out of love for the show.  I care about the quality.

However, my time is also spent examining the writing and the historical background of the situations and the hidden humor.  I try to keep track of a number of things, which I document.  And now there's even a companion blog to The Crazy World of Vic and Sade - that is, The Mixed-up World of Uncle Fletcher.

Immersing myself into the show means listening to each shows 4 times before I write about it.  Some shows may have 4 or 5 pages of notes, as I will listen in the evening curled up on a couch with pen and paper.  I have just finished writing about the 100th show and I find it a bit of an accomplishment to be as involved in the show as I am.  While Vic and Sade is not a soap opera  or anything like a soap opera (as many think) it is kind of built like a soap opera in that there are many, many characters.  I have documented each of the show's characters and even provided a photo "of them" - only, they are never heard, so they aren't actually real people.  Thus, there is a database of fictional people, with photos and links to the stuff they have done.

I dare say I know as much about the first 100 surviving shows as anyone.  And you too can find what I have learned just by exploring The Crazy World of Vic and Sade.

Folks, Vic and Sade is the finest program I know to exist.  Yes, Gunsmoke is great and The Six Shooter might be even better.  We all know the simplicity of Fibber McGee and Molly works on so many different levels as does the more complicated Halls of Ivy.  There are so many great things to say about the 21st Precinct and Dragnet and Suspense that it would be hard to know where to begin.  But I tell you this from my heart, from someone who listens and re-listens and documents Vic and Sade daily: it is the best show that ever has existed.

I dare any of you to go to The Crazy World of Vic and Sade, grab the hand-fixed files (they are on the top left corner of the web site) and listen to those 9 minute episodes and not come away thinking the same way I do.

Writer Paul Rhymer was a genius in more ways that one.  For instance, the show has incredible continuity.  Through 100 shows, I think I have found TWO continuity errors.  It's like the show is about real people.

And of course the show is hilarious.  From Vic and his lodge rituals that can involve Sade (who hates the lodge) to young Rush and his fantastic stories or the tales in his 3rd Lieutenant Stanley books to half-nuts Uncle Fletcher, who is eccentric to begin with - there is a crazy world waiting for you.

I challenge you: listen to Vic and Sade. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The 5 worst characters on radio sitcoms

As a general rule, I enjoy most radio situation comedies.  However, there were some characters that I just can't stand:

5. Waldo Binney on the Life of Riley (Dink Trout) - I guess the main reason I don't like him is that he's annoying to me rather than being funny.  The show survived fine without him so we know he wasn't crucial.

Another thing, he seemed to steal his character from the Irene Ryan character on the Jack Carson Show.  The characters could be twins (male and female.)  Besides, who wants to listen to someone complain all the time?

4. The Happy Mailman on Burns and Allen (Mel Blanc) - Mel Blanc was a man of 1000 voices and one of those voices was as the Mailman on the George Burns, Gracie Allen Show.  While Mel Blanc was a superb imitator and original voice artist, he (generally) wasn't much of a comedian.

Of course, he seemed to flourish in that role on the Jack Benny show but I digress.  As the mailman, he was one of many annoying, unneeded characters who would show up on the show in the early 1940's.

3. Margaret Davis, the landlady on Our Miss Brooks (Jane Morgan) - Jane Morgan always played the same kind of character, an elderly advice-giver; usually a maid or a landlady.  It really matters not to me on what show or what what role she was in, I thought she was annoying.  She is one of several reasons why Our Miss Brooks is low on my listening totem pole. 

Her voice is grinding, but not near as bad as Portland Hoffa, who would easily make this list, except she was on a variety show (the various Fred Allen shows) and not a situation comedy.

2. Gloria the housekeeper on the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (Bea Benaderet) - By far Bea Benaderet's worst role.  She seems to portrays Gloria as having some sort of speech problem, perhaps a cleft lip.  Sorry, but that's what it sounds like to me.  Ultra annoying, unfunny, unneeded character.

1. Herman the Duck on Burns and Allen (Clarence Nash) - Clarence Nash was actually the voice of Donald Duck (and Daisy) at Disney for years.  I suppose someone on the Burns and Allen show didn't think the Happy Postman was torture enough to listen to so they decided to bring in something more ridiculous and worse-sounding.

The fact is this: the show was one you could really immerse yourself in, even with the Happy Mailman but the stupid talking duck on the show simply ruins it for me.  The duck and the Mailman were on during the same years.  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The lodge: a staple in many sitcoms

Anyone who follows the show, Vic and Sade will know that Vic is not just a member of a lodge, he's wrapped up in it.  His lodge is like a religion to him.

Since the lodge is full of very stupid rituals and yet it's treated with such reverence, there is this comedy yin-yang that makes it almost impossible not to laugh along with Sade, who sees the lodge as a money pit and waste of time.

I've been thinking, "the lodge" shows up quite a bit on other old-time radio (as well as early television):

Amos 'n' Andy - We know that George Stevens is the "King Fish" because he is the head of the "Knights of the Mystic Sea" lodge.  I really don't remember hearing about anything much that goes on there, but we know the lodge is a large part of the show.

Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - Close listening will show that Ozzie is a member of an unspecified lodge.   It's rarely mentioned.

Fibber McGee and Molly - Fibber is an Elk and the lodge comes into play in 3 or 4 episodes.  He seems to take the lodge seriously but it doesn't seem to control Fibber's life.

Lum and Abner - Almost every male on the show (excluding Cedric) seems to be a member of the lodge.  The lodge name is never mentioned (or at least, I've never heard it in the many episodes I have listened to.)  For the most part, the lodge seems to be a place to borrow chairs from, more than anything else.  Squire Skimp is a big muckity-muck in the lodge.

Mel Blanc Show - Mel belonged to the lodge and greeted other members of the lodge with secret, silly stuff concerning, "ugga bugga boo" or something similar.  I haven't heard the show in a while but I seem to recall his prospective father-in-law was a lodge muckity-muck and Mel was always trying to impress him and work his way up in the lodge.  (By the way, I hate the show.)

As I mentioned earlier, early sitcom TV had it's share of lodge members.  On the Honeymooners, Ralph and Norton were devoted to the lodge.  Fred and Barney on the Flintstones (which was a knockoff of The Honeymooners) were also lodge devotees.  And I know there were others.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rare photo of Ransom Sherman

Of Fibber McGee and Molly and other shows

Tales of the Texas Rangers - a review

The show Tales of the Texas Rangers was a Dragnet-type show but done with one Texas Ranger (Jace Pearson) running the show.  For those who don't know, the Texas Rangers have a history of being very relentless and  are pretty much equivalent to the FBI as far as crime fighting.

In this series, Jace Pearson (played by Joel McCrea) seems to have all the answers.  No crime is unsolvable.  Of course you know he's going to solve every crime - this is 1950's radio.

Is it fun?  Yeah it is.  Even though a lot of the stories seem similar, there's a Western flair in the stories that you don't get from the other real-crime shows on OTR.  This at least makes the show different than Dragnet, yet the similarities remain.  We get to "see" some of the behind-the-scenes crime fighting, such as lab work.  The cases are based on real cases that happened in Texas, most seem to be from the 1920's or 1930's.

The one drawback - and it's a major one - is how bad the sound can be throughout the whole series.  Very few of the files I have heard are easy to listen to.  Whoever transferred them over from tape did a horrible job at it.  The bass is booming and well, it just sounds bad most of the time.

It's really too bad because I like the series a lot.  I've actually tried to fix the files but it's no use...  I'll give the show 4.5 stars but since the files are all horrible sounding, it gets marked down to a 2.5.  It can be a trying experience listening to the show.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The Adventures of Superman: the early radio years

The last month or so, I have gone back and started re-listening to the Adventures of Superman.

There is a dark, stark difference in the first couple of years of the series and the other years.  The beginning of the series is very serious.  The two obvious things that are different is the music and the commercials.  That blasted organ and the sugar-hyped commercial spokesman in the later years are at times completely non-existent and what we are left with is a somber and serious play about Clark Kent.

Although, after having said that, Superman seems to be more cartoonish than the later years and not near as strong.  Sometimes it seems as though he cannot see through walls (maybe that came along later in the comics?)   He had a tough time breaking a padlock in an early episode I heard yesterday.  Come on Superman, it's a padlock!

Lois Lane is not the more aggressive figure of the later years, in fact she seems frail at times.  I heard an episode yesterday where she told Clark, "I'm afraid."  That's not the Lois of later years for sure.  (And that's not Joan Alexander playing Lois either in the early days - not sure who it is.)

Julian Noa, who plays Perry White, is very serious.  The hyper reactions to Jimmy Olson are not there.  He is serious and somber -the world is about to end -Perry White.

And to me, this makes the first couple of years of the series as good as anything on radio.  Not that the other years are terrible - they aren't, but there is a major difference in the tone of the series.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

An interview with Decoder Ring's Gregg Taylor!

As I wrote late last week, this blog has been blessed to have some enormous talent join me in "conversation" that I am then able to pass on to you my readers.

I really get lucky today because Gregg Taylor, the mastermind and do-it-all (or almost all) of Decoder Ring Theatre agreed to answer a few questions.

For those who have been on another planet, Gregg (who I guess will one day be a bazillionaire) writes and records the Red Panda and Black Jack Justice and has his hands in other things as well.  While these series are modern, they are written and performed better than many old-time radio shows, in my estimation.  They are honestly a joy to listen to.

I hope you will take the time to visit Decoder Ring's excellent web site and you can download all you want.  You definitely need to check it all out - as it's all good stuff, that's a promise.

OTR BUFFET: Thank you for taking time out of what I am sure is a very busy schedule to answer these questions.  I'd like to know how you came up with the idea for the Red Panda series?  The Red Panda is very much like old-time radio in a lot of ways and I think you will find (if you haven't already) that OTR fans appreciate the show.  Can you tell me what it was that inspired the series?

Gregg Taylor: Well, yes, it was exactly that. I've always loved old-time radio, having grown up with a station nearby that played the old shows. I worked on a few projects geared toward old-time radio, but it was really the mp3 revolution that made the Decoder Ring Theatre shows possible... now at last you weren't hearing odd episodes here and there, but able to really jump in with both feet and listen through hundreds of surviving episodes in series after series, and really get a feel for how this was done back when radio drama was the dominant popular art form. Of course, like a lot of OTR fans, I also have a love for the classic adventure pulps and golden age comics, so both of those had a hand in the Red Panda's development as well.

OTR BUFFET: I've heard about 35 of the Red Panda shows.  I thought they were excellent - so much so that I long ago voiced my approval for you guys on my blog.  The Red Panda and Flying Squirrel are superheroes - but they seem to be a cross of several superheroes.  For instance, it seems the Red Panda is a cross between of The Shadow, Batman, Kato and maybe a few others.  Is that about right?  How would you describe the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel?

Gregg Taylor: You know, back before it becamse considered "realistic" for people with fantastic powers to walk around moaning "why oh why was I cursed with these terrible superpowers", it wasn't at all out of the popular imagination that a wealthy man might devote his life to protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty. Heck, if I had a fat stack of cash, I might do it myself. So yes, heroes in the "wealthy young man about town" mold are definately the model for the Red Panda. He has elements of the Green Hornet, of classic Batman, of both the radio and pulp Shadows, who were very different. But there's also a good deal of Will Eisner's Spirit in him... less grim around the edges than he might have been. As for Kit Baxter, his trusty driver who joins him in his fight as the Flying Squirrel.... she has elements of Kato and Robin to her makeup, as well as being the genuinely strong partner that I always wished the Lane girls (Margo and Lois) could have been. I'm wildly biased, of course, but she may be my favorite female superhero. In many ways we have really been telling her story all this time. There is also a fair amount of Dr. Who in the show, mostly revealed in dialouge, and obviously heavier in some episodes than in others.

OTR BUFFET: It's really astounding that you write as much as you do and well as you do.  Plus you are an actor and I know you do a promotion for Decoder Ring and...well, are you sure you aren't Orson Welles?  Do you write all of the shows by yourself?

Gregg Taylor: Ha! In truth I do much more of the writing than Orson really did, but also without his spectacular success. But I appreciate the comparison, even if it is only properly contained within a thought constructed like this: "Gregg Taylor, unlike the much more fabulous Orson Welles..." But Orson also didn't usually work a full-time job either, so I suppose he had more time to be fabulous.

I write the Red Panda stories and the Black Jack Justice mysteries. We do six or seven episodes a year under the "Showcase" banner, and those aren't mine (well, okay, I wrote one). Of 155 episodes released by Decoder Ring Theatre at time of writing, I wrote 117 of them. To date I've also released 3 pulp adventure novels set in the Red Panda continuity (the Tales of the Red Panda books) and the first Black Jack Justice novel is waiting for a cover, and will soon be out. Clearly I need to get out more.

OTR BUFFET: Can we assume that Clarissa Taylor (the Red Panda's sidekick, Flying Squirrel) is in reality, your wife?

Gregg Taylor: Yep, sorry fellas. I had just started dating Clarissa when I was writing the Season One scripts, and I wrote Kit for her. I worked fairly quickly on both fronts and we were married about three months before we started releasing the shows.

OTR BUFFET: When I listen to the show, I hear a lot of humor - all different kinds!  There are puns, slapstick etc.  Where do you get your inspirations for the humor and how long does it take you to write a script?

Gregg Taylor: Depends on the script, but obviously when you're averaging about 18 scripts per year, plus other projects, plus directing, mixing and editing the shows, plus working for a living and having two kids, you've got to get used to a certain pace. Black Jack takes longer to write, mostly because your pallate is less unlimited with a detective show. They don't work "for justice" they work for money, and there's a fairly limited range of tasks a private detective can be hired to perform. And you can't talk your way out of a  situation with some mock-scientifc gobbledygook. Anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks I guess. Some scripts just come out funny. Black Jack will usually have 1 episode a season that is essentially a 1 act farce. Those are fun to write.

OTR BUFFET: I also hear sexual innuendo in there - but it's all done very carefully and cleverly.  I want to tell you that I appreciate that - because I know kids are listening.  You say what you want to say but you do it very nicely!

Gregg Taylor: Again, it's the OTR influence. Yes, we get away with more than they ever did, but I try and conform loosely to the broadcast standards of the era.

OTR BUFFET: Who is it listening to your shows?  Is it children?  Fans of old-time radio?  The current generation?

Gregg Taylor: All of the above. I'm always very proud of the number of kids listening, and the number who find their way to classic OTR because of time spent with the Red Panda. I also appreciate that when I look at contact lists of our supporters, they are usually at least 50% female. Superhero and detective stories usually inspire something more like a sausage party, fan-wise, so I think we must be doing something right.

OTR BUFFET: From the time you start recording an episode, how long does it take to finish (on average?)

Gregg Taylor: We'll record the guts of a number of episodes in a single day, and I plug away at them until they are done. We're not that effects-heavy, and that's by design. The effects are there to support the story, not the other way around. That's what I like as a listener, so that's what I create. Usually by the time I finish writing a set of scripts, I am desperate to start mixing again, and by the time I finish I'm sick of it and ready to write. There's such balance in nature, man.

OTR BUFFET: When I listen to the Red Panda series, I get such a vivid picture of what is going on.  I know you have the pulp version - what about animation?  Any chance we will see that from you in the future?

Gregg Taylor: Yes. There is a chance. I would love to see that happen, but it's a huge undertaking. It would make an awesome cartoon, no question.

OTR BUFFET: Can you tell us about the other series at Decoder Ring?

Gregg Taylor: Well, the only other "unlimited" series is Black Jack Justice, a noir detective series inspired by Sam Spade, Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe and the like. Except that the narrative voice is split between Jack Justice and his partner, Trixie Dixon, girl detective. So you have, in essence, his & hers detectives who don't like each other very much often contradicting each other in their own visons of how the case unfolds. It's fun. There have been a number of nice short-run series contained iunder the Showcase banner, comedy, western, science fiction and some Suspense-style anthology shows. We like to mix it up.

OTR BUFFET: Thank you again, Gregg!

Gregg Taylor: Awesome, thank you.

[Thanks to Radio's Revenge's Peter Church for helping me supply questions!]

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Americans in the Golden Age were different than "us"

I was thinking the other day; the world has changed.  I guess that was a pretty stupid and obvious thought but my, has it changed.

America really seemed to change about the time I was born - which was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  I believe people began to understand or at least some believed that the US Government was lying to them.

We know now that the US Government has lied thousands - maybe millions of times.  I dare say that few of us reading this actually trust the government of the United States anymore.

But back in the Golden Age of Radio, people not only trusted the US Government, they wantonly laid down their lives for it.

But today?  For goodness sake, even Superman has given up his US citizenship.

No, I'm not trying to get into a political discussion here but when I listen to OTR I think about how uninformed the people were.

And that's as far as I am going with this one.  :D

©Jimbo 2010/2011

The last generation?

Every now and then, I wonder if my generation is the last that will really appreciate old-time radio.

Look around, thre are few new blogs or websites around that deal directly with OTR.  I believe my blog is the only one that does so daily.  There are other important websites out there that deal with a specific show but what about all the other shows?

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peabody's Peabrain updated

Added 2 new instances at Abner being a knucklehead at Peabody's Peabrain.  I do plan on updating it and the Lum and Abner Dictionary regularly, until further notice.

You can follow all the updates via Twitter, RSS or the red Twitter window on this blog.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary updated!

Here you go.  Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary:

Golden Locks

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Hey Hitler, Rinso white - weet weet weet

Lewis J. Valentine: A Gang Buster

"Wonder Man": Larry Storch??

"Entertain the President" - holy smokes!

Air-Wick: the 1945 version

Air-Wick is often spoken about on GAOR programs.  I often have wondered about how it was manipulated as this was before the days of aereosol and the common ways that Air-Wick (still in business today) is used (via light socket, among other ways.)

So now you know.

[Not to be used with the GAOR no-no word, stink.]

Minerva Pious: barely 5 feet tall, 100 lbs

And now, that noted radio singer, Alan Ladd!

Nazis or Martians?

Soaps on!

WWII-related comic - bread and butter

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's not dead - The Lum and Abner Dictionary

Okay, sorry I haven't been updating the Lum and Abner Dictionary lately.  Recall that it generally takes 6-7 episodes a day to comes up with 4-5 words for the dictionary.  Frankly, I get sick of Lum and Abner.

However, I do plan on starting up again, maybe as early as omorrow, so keep those breeches on.

I'll also update Peabody's Peabrain when I listen to Lum and Abner as well.

©Jimbo 2010/2011


June Havoc was the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Everybody was doing it

It's darn near impossible to find someone in the 1930's who did not at some point do an act in blackface.

It seems like everybody did it.

It would probably be easier to make a list of performers during that time who didn't ever do a blackface act than one who did.

I have no idea who these people below are.  But whoever they are, they look like monkeys.


I'll never marry Rudy Vallee (Said Alice Faye)

Rudy Vallee was linked to ALL KINDS of beautiful stars! (1935)

Thank you

I went back yesterday and re-read my first day of blogging on this site.  The first thing I blogged was called, "Hodge Podge" - something I had forgotten.  I have used, "Hodge Podging" variations on several post titles in the almost 10 months since I started this blog.

When I first started the blog, I had no idea that in 10 months, there would be well over 2000 posts on this blog and the others I do - all related to this one.

I would have never guessed there would be a dictionary (The Lum and Abner variety) which is about half finished.  (For those who don't know, there is a lot that goes into writing a dictionary!)

Who knew there would be 100's of sound clips?  When this blog started, I had never heard of Vic and Sade and now I spend 2-5 hours a day on a blog devoted to the show.

When this blog started I didn't know how to clean up audio files.  Today, I'm better at it than I was yesterday.

There are now close to 3000 articles posted on all of my blogs put together.  That's in almost 10 and a half months time - or about 300 days.  That's an average of 10 articles a day.

Some days there isn't much going on at the Buffet.  I try to stuff the Buffet with news and other things but there are days when I simply cannot find any news or I am exhausted from running the other blogs or exhausted from looking for news.  I don't think any of you realize how many hours a day I spend researching/blogging.  I get up around 3:30 each morning to be able to do this.

Thank goodness for the people who agree to be interviewed and return them to me.   For every interview you have read on the Buffet, there are 2 more that never came back.  But the interviews have been awesome.  I have learned a lot and met some wonderful, wonderful people.

There's some time involved in coming up with questions for people.  Thankfully, I have a lot of friends who now help me with coming up with questions for my interviews - all I have to do is ask and they seem to come through.

My friend Boston Blackie is always there for me.  I can bounce ideas off of him or ask him to write something; the man is always there to help.  He's been there since day one.  He encourages me, he sends me links, he writes comments to the blog - without him, I think I might have given up long ago.  He's not only been a big help, he's been a friend.  His wife even gives her opinions - and I want to thank her as well.  You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.

To all of you others out there who do the same things - send me links and material, those who comment, those who send me email, those who contribute in any little way, I appreciate you and the things you do.

I am very thankful to my anonymous friend at the Cobalt Club who helps me by letting me use his finds and helping me almost weekly identify things I am unable to identify.  Your kindness and class is overwhelming and I want to thank you.  You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.

A very special thank you to Jim Beshires of OTRR who has allowed and given me all kinds of freedoms and kindnesses and has been a friend since the day I met him.   You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.

To all of you others that I know I have forgotten, there are so many of you - thank you all.

And to you that take the time to read this over the various other blogs, thank you as well.  Thanks to all the Tweeters out there who retweet my stuff!

Why am I doing this?  Am I going to die soon?  I hope not!

But one never knows about tomorrow.  I just wanted you people to know I do appreciate you.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amos 'n' Andy - Shorty and Gabby argue politics

This is an all-time classic segment.  Shorty the barber and Gabby the lawyer get into an argument about politics.  After listening, remember: you can't unhear it:


An interview with Paul from the CBS Radio Mystery Theater website

The CBS Radio Mystery Theater came along during the 1970's revival of OTR and gained a lot of fans, many that are still listening to the show faithfully.

I recall vividly listening to the show late at night at 10, 11, 12 years old - and being frightened as I hid beneath the covers!

There is a very well-done website out there that explores the show and I am honored to have with me, Paul, the fellow that runs the site. After months of trying to track him down, I finally got a hold of him and here are the questions asked and answered:

OTR BUFFET: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me. I've actually been trying to get a hold of you for about six months but I simply could not find a way to reach you.

Paul: Thanks. I am glad we could connect and I am sure you know how hard it is to get a site like off the ground. is a website where visitors can listen to all 1,399 episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater old time radio free. Visitors can stream or download old radio shows in MP3 format or copy radio shows to CD. Visitors can listen their favorite Radio Mystery Theater shows and comment with other fans to talk about their favorite Radio Mystery programs (sort of like the comment system on your blog, Jimbo). The episodes are fully logged with broadcast & synopsis. The shows are fully searchable and you can there are short bios of each actor and writer and a list by adaptation.

OTR BUFFET: Between the 2 narrators/hosts, can you point out the strength of each and which one you liked more? Do you have the total of episode hosted by each?

Paul: Both are great CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosts and lend to the show's "Creepyness Factor" in their own way. The part is an out growth of "Raymond" from Inner Sanctum, but while Raymond's silliness added a Halloween fun flavor to the show, H.G. Marshall's seriousness used to make my hair stand on end when I was riding in the backseat of my parent's car. Tammy Grimes' feminine voice should be reassuring, but the fact that it really isn't I find to be even more frightening.

OTR BUFFET: What is your favorite genre of the anthology?

Paul: I'm not sure if Radio Mystery Theater is really a Genre, but I really love the Adaptations from Literature. The Dickens and Poe stories are great fun, but I think the Mark Twain week from January 1976 is about my favorite.

OTR BUFFET: When I think of the series there are 3 or 4 actors and a few actresses that come up quickly in my mind. Which actors and actors do you associate most closely with the series?

Paul: Mason Adams had such a great voice for Radio. But the ones that are the most fun for me to listen to are the people that I remember from TV and Movies, like Morgan Fairchild, Jack Grimes, Richard Crenna.

OTR BUFFET: Can you name a few really good episodes and why they stand out?

Paul: I get a big kick out of the Christmas Carol adaptations starring E.G. Marshall as Scrooge. But if I were going to burn just one or two CDs to take to the desert island with me, it would be filled with the First Week in January Theme shows, maybe they aren't as scary as some of the other episodes, but life on a deserted island is scary enough!

OTR BUFFET: I'll be honest with you. When I listen to CBSRMT then thing that makes the biggest impression on me are the horrible 1970's commercials. How do you feel about the commercials? Do you know of anyone editing those out and just leaving the play?

Paul: We'll have to agree to disagree- I love hearing how sleek and modern the new '74 Chevy's are, and the great deals on pocket calculators for only $60 at True Value Hardware Stores. But I do understand what you mean about commercials. A number of the episodes were retrieved from AFRTS, and they pulled the commercials before playing them for the Military.

OTR BUFFET: Other than Mercedes MacCambridge and Mason Adams, which other Old-time radio stars showed up now and again on the series?

Paul: The acting pool the Himan Brown drew from mostly came from two sources. One was CBS TV talent, especially daytime actors, I think because the 'Soaps were still being produced in New York. The other was Old time radio actors like Adams and MacCAmbridge, along with Agnes Moorehead, Jackson Beck, Staats Cosworth, Mandel Kramer and many others.

OTR BUFFET: What do you think the main difference is between CBSRMT and the shows from the Golden Age of Radio?

Paul: The quality of the production! Part of it is the progress in recording technology between '62 when Johnny Dollar's last broadcast ended Old Time Radio and '74 when CBSRMT got started. But I have a feeling that a lot of the difference is that Himan Brown was given a much larger budget to play with than anyone ever had to play with during "The Golden Age". Radio Drama is so much cheaper to produce than anything with pictures, it would be a lot of fun to see what a group of kids, say a High School Drama Club, could do with a good script and a laptop computer!

OTR BUFFET: Any idea who wrote the theme music to the show?

Paul: I believe it is an adaptation of a Twilight Zone theme written by Nathan van Cleeve. Hearing that big ol' bass is like getting to the head of the line to get on the roller-coaster; you know you are going to get the stuffing scared out of you and you just can't wait!

OTR BUFFET: Were most of the stories for the show written for the show or were they reworks of other scripts?

Paul: A number of the stories are adaptations from literature, but the scripts are all original. Himan Brown paid a flat $350 for each script, so I don't think that anyone got rich writing for CBSRMT. Reworking old scripts would have been hard to pull off- most older shows were a half hour format, so the stories were simple enough to fit. Stretching them to fit a full hour would have been difficult.

OTR BUFFET: With all of the old Time Classic radio we have available to us, why was The Mystery Theater so well received?

Paul: When CBSRMT was on the air it was the only game in town! Radio Drama had been declared Dead when Johnny Dollar went off the air in '62. Mutual had Zero Hour in '73, but even with Rod Serling, in my mind, it just wasn't as good a production as CBSRMT.

OTR BUFFET: How well did it hold up with regard to writing and acting values in comparison to older shows? If favorably, why did it do so well?

Paul: I think that the writing and acting of Radio Mystery Theater is equal to or better than some of the fare from older programs, but for the opposite reason. During the Golden Age of Radio, it was the primary source of income for the actors and writers, so they had to be good or learn to live on less groceries. The pay-scale for CBSRMT was much lower than what the same talent could make in Television, so I have the feeling that many of them worked on the show for the fun of it or as an "artistic challenge." Under these conditions a lot of people will do their best work for personal satisfaction.

OTR BUFFET: Why do you think CBSRMT succeeded when Theatre Five (1973) - which was 30 minutes shorter and seemed to not dwell so much on sci-fi or the supernatural, failed?

Paul: I have a feeling it was the time-slot. 5 pm Drive Time is a bread and butter for the local affiliates who's audience needed to be bombarded with music, DJ patter, and profitable local commercials. Later in the evening is a good time for kids who should be asleep to quietly pull the covers over their heads and tune in their AM portables for a good scare.

OTR BUFFET: Could a new show such as The CBS Mystery Theater even make it on the air today?

Paul: I think that there could be a market for a program like Mystery Theater, but unfortunately not on the air. Which is sad, because I love the technical simplicity of Radio Broadcasts in comparison with the Internet Infrastructure. But unless someone drops The Big One on the dozen or so Server Farms around the world that the Internet depends on, the 'Net will be the big kid on the block for a long time. Audio Drama have the potential to get big again for similar reasons that Radio Soap Operas got big in the 30's: it is cheap to produce very entertaining programs that can be enjoyed while multi-tasking, whether it is washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, commuting to work, working out, or hiding under the covers with a flashlight and an MP3 player getting scared before falling asleep.

OTR BUFFET: Thanks Paul for the time and the answers!

[Many thanks to friends Jon at OTRCat, Larry Gassman (Same Time, Same Station) and "Boston Blackie" for helping provide questions.]

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Arthur Q. Bryan started as a sports announcer


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson almost died when he was a boy

Bill Stern only had one leg

Turn on the radio, it's time for the eclipse!

I've said it before, I'll say it again; radio would broadcast anything.

Q: When do Fibber McGee and Molly not look like Fibber McGee and Molly?

A: In this photo:

They look like impersonators to me!  (1948)

An interview with Peter Church

Twitter is opening a up a new world for me. Recently, I came across a fellow named Peter Church. His website, Radio's Revenge is his gateway into some quality, homemade podcasts, many of them using old-time radio scripts.

He's from Canada, a place that seems to be swelling these days with people putting on their own radio productions. I thought that it is about time I spoke to some of these people up north and found out what's in the water up there (or should it be, "ice up there?") Regardless, Canada seems to be on the cutting edge of original dramatic programming, be it for fun or profit.

Peter has been kind enough to take time out of his schedule to clue us in on what's going on with his radio dramas and we get to read it first hand, from this actor's point of view.

OTR BUFFET: Thank you Peter for joining me and doing this interview. First of all, tell me about how you first got into OTR and some background on some of the shows that intrigued you.

Peter Church: Hi, Jimbo! My Dad always shared his love of classic films with me. I remember curling up with him as a 7 year old (back in the 80's) and watching re-runs of the original 'Lone Ranger' series on Sunday mornings. Even from the time before I could talk, we had a giant, plush rabbit named 'Harvey'. Perhaps not coincidentally, when I was a teenager it was his sharing the film 'Harvey' with me that led me to become a professional actor (it and 'It's a Wonderful Life' both convinced my 13 year old self that Jimmy Stewart had the best job in the world!). I started listening to old-time radio about the same time - 1990 - when I was 13 or 14 years old. I grew up near Calgary, AB, Canada and a radio station there would play “Those Old Radio Shows” 7 days a week from 11pm-1am (still does!). Like my father and so many other young listeners did during the original broadcasts, I stayed up late under the covers in order to be chilled by shows like 'Inner Sanctum', 'Lights Out', 'Suspense' and 'The Whistler'. Those kinds of Thrillers captivated me most at first, but it was no time at all before I was equally enthralled by shows from other genres. Shows like 'Gunsmoke', 'The Jack Benny Program', 'Our Miss Brooks', 'X Minus 1', and 'The Adventures of Sam Spade' are still way at the top of my list of favourites.

OTR BUFFET: I have enjoyed your website and the podcasts and the original work done there. You have your own studio, that's awesome!

Peter Church: Thanks! Radio's Revenge ( is a company I started with my friend and creative partner, Sean Doyle. I met Sean when we were doing a play together. He was preparing for his next project - playing Orson Welles in a live re-enactment of 'War of the Worlds' - and as part of his research he'd been listening to a lot of 'The Mercury Theatre on the Air' and other classic OTR. Eventually, he kicked me into writing the first episode of our ‘I Smell a Mystery’ series. He promised it would strictly be for our own amusement, but very quickly started loading the recording gear into my already crowded apartment and setting us up with a home studio. Before I knew it, we had a roster of 20 professional actors very graciously offering their time and immense talent to the project.

OTR BUFFET: Where do you get your stories?

Peter Church: We have two kinds of stories at Radio's Revenge. The first is our tribute to the craft of OTR, in which we take actual radio scripts from the Golden Age of Radio and do our best to recreate them. These stories can be pulled from any genre, so long as they are in the public domain, which I believe is a great way to save some of the more obscure old shows from being forgotten. For example, our focus with this sort of story right now is on adapting teleplays from an old Boris Karloff series that was produced in 1958, though sadly never aired. The shows are allegedly based on real-life reports of the paranormal and are perfect for the medium of radio. The second kinds of stories are ones we write ourselves. So far, I’ve been writing these ones; although it’s our hope that we will be able to eventually start taking submissions from other fans of radio drama. These scripts are our chance to gently poke fun at the potentially-clumsy conventions of radio drama - our chance to acknowledge that, as modern listeners, we are looking backwards and may have moved on in our understanding of things like gender stereotypes, global relations, and... well, cigarettes. Our original series, 'I Smell a Mystery', is intended to be "gentle satire" and its stories are largely drawn from adventure series like 'The Shadow' and, of course, 'I Love a Mystery'. With it, we hope that imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery.

OTR BUFFET: Are your plays always detective-based?

Peter Church: Often, but not exclusively. Detective stories offer a kind of Dramatic Familiarity for most modern listeners (even if they’re brand new to OTR). The hard-boiled detective, the Femme Fatale, and the self-deluded villain are easy targets for Parody, while on the other hand, when done straight the ‘Noir’ genre offers a sexiness and a cynicism that is perhaps more relatable for our current culture. That being said, we do not always stay in that genre. Right now we are excitedly preparing a live broadcast for the Christmas Season and have often talked about branching out into the realm of science fiction. We also have some very exciting interactive elements coming up for our website which should be lots of fun for OTR aficionados and neophytes alike!

OTR BUFFET: Which OTR detective has influenced you the most?

Peter Church: If we can count Lamont Cranston as a “Detective”, he’d probably get the number 1 spot. If not, my favourite as a young person was Richard Diamond and I think his series probably contributed to my learning that detective fiction can still include a sense of humour. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Joe Friday in ‘Dragnet’ and I love how gritty some of those episodes feel.

OTR BUFFET: What's your ultimate goal in doing these broadcasts?

Peter Church: When Sean and I set out on this adventure, I think we both were hoping to share the shows with our close friends and perhaps share them with senior citizens; as the original listening audience we were confident that they would enjoy and appreciate this kind of “homage”. Since then however, I’ve found extreme satisfaction in watching our work become a gateway to OTR for young actors. We’re always looking for voices that suit our period setting, and every time I invite someone to audition for us, I send MP3 files with clips from the original shows – providing examples of some those fantastic character-actors of the day like Lurene Tuttle, Elliott Lewis, Junius C. Matthews, Parley Baer, Bill Conrad, and countless others. Ultimately, our hope is to build an online presence that can act as sort of “Hub” for other producers of “new-time” radio. Our dream right now is that can become a place where listeners will find links to all the great audio entertainment that is being created by contemporary artists, while at the same time being the home of our own offerings as they grow and become more refined.

OTR BUFFET: From my view, it seems like there is a lot of podcasting and original radio theater out of Canada. What's the deal up there?

Peter Church: Hey - that’s great to hear! Perhaps it’s our colonial roots... the BBC is, of course, still a leading force in contemporary audio drama, and our own CBC in Canada was a huge contributer to the Radio Play Revival of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and, even now, produces a strong series called ‘Afghanada’ that follows a fictional Canadian military unit in Afghanistan. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that Canadians have to stay indoors during the winter, so there’s not much else to DO in Canada from November to May! Regardless, I give thanks to the radio broadcasters that faithfully play OTR in order to snare new listeners, just like CHQR 770 in Calgary did for me ( And I think you’re right – Canada does have a very rich supply of original radio theatre. For example, outstanding new fiction is podcast 3 times a week by our friends at Flashpulp (! That’s a tremendous commitment for people that rely only on listener support. Likewise, Decoder Ring Theatre ( and The Boneyard Man have built up an extremely loyal fan-base over years of broadcasts and live performances.

You can subscribe to our podcast from the website, and also look for Radio’s Revenge on Facebook and Twitter for more OTR-related goodies.

Thanks again, Jimbo, and keep up the good work!

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1940's Pet Peeve - not naming cities

Something that really bothers me is those crime shows of the 1940's avoiding saying the names of the cities where the crimes were taking place.

Often you hear, "In that hugely-populated northeastern U.S. city" or "On the outskirts of that Western metropolis" - just tell us the name of the city already!

In a Big Town

Jack Benny in 1938 - tells a racist joke?

On the Jack Benny Show, episode #312, 381127 Flash Benny, Football Star, Jack makes what seems like an ill-advised joke about a watermelon and Alabama. (Recall that in 1938, there were no black college football players, so the joke seems to be referring to the state of Alabama. In 1938 Alabama was certainly first or second in African-American population.)

Many a radio joke focused on silent nobodies

We heard very little from Eddie Cantor's daughters but he talked about them a lot. They were never there but most of us know who they are and what they looked like.

On Vic and Sade, there's a whole army of neighbors the Gooks had - yet until the show reached dire straits during the war, we never heard of them. Yet most of us know them by name.

Fibber McGee talked of Fred Nitney all the time; Fred was his old Vaudeville friend yet we never hear from him. Same goes for other characters on the show, such as Sweety Face, who was talked about on most every show, yet we never ever hear from her.

On the Great Gildersleeve, how many times did we actually hear from Leroy's pal, Piggy Banks? Maybe once - if that.

On the Jack Benny Show, how little did we hear from Remley, Phil Harris' guitar player? Barely if ever but there was a time when we heard about him almost every week of the show. Mary had a mother who wrote letters that Mary read but when did we actually hear her? Mary's sister Babe was 100% real but she was rarely ever on the show.

Fred Allen used to heckle a man named Hodge White that never said a word.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope focused a lot of jokes on Crosby's kiddos and his horses, yet when did they ever appear on radio? (Rarely.)

Milton Berle liked to talk about his wife or old girlfriend named Cynthia, but when did we ever hear from her?

Don Wilson doing all the voices in Disney's 'Ferdinand the Bull'

Fred Allen again!

Thank you Cobalt Club

The McGees, Beulah and more

Thank you Cobalt Club!

Norwin Corwin's writing in WWII

Thank you, Cobalt Club!

More about Dunninger

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blind man plays a blind man on radio

Truth or Consequences was very unique show

Courtesy of The Cobalt Club

Not quite a photo'dump'

WWII-related comic - women's hats

Ed Gardner obituary

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson original obituary

My Friend Irma - a review

The music I have written in my lifetime - literally, thousands of pieces, I have been told that the darker, sadder things are the best.  I tell you this because I think it's true that I enjoy writing about OTR that I find intolerable.

One of those shows is My Friend Irma.  Now I know some of you like the show - and hey, I'll be the first to admit that even I LOVE THE THREE STOOGES.

However, My Friend Irma is not the Three Stooges.

What we have here is Irma, who did such a good job of playing a completely ditzy blonde that she was typecast forever afterwards.  I actually feel sorry for her because everything I have ever read about her is positive and she was not a ditzy blonde in real life.  As a matter of fact, she was a "blonde bombshell."

Marie Wilson (Irma)
However, on My Friend Irma she plays a COMPLETE airhead.  She is played perfectly by Marie Wilson.  But no  one - not any of the Three Stooges even - could be as dumb as she portrayed.  If anyone were that dumb, they'd be classified as someone with mental conditions - and then it just wouldn't be funny.

And to me, it's not funny.  Irma has her funny moments (I suppose) but I think what makes it not so funny are the even more not-so-funny supporting characters.

One of those actors is John Brown, someone I love in everything he does - but here, he's tepid and while not awful, just not funny.  He plays Irma's "boyfriend" but he treats her awful and never works.  He's a bum but he's a bum that's almost as dumb as Irma.  He knows the street, maybe, but he's dumb.  And not funny.

The same goes with the other actors involved.  Jane Stacy, the level-headed roommate of Irma (played by Cathy Lewis) is too straight with no sense of humor and little personality.  As a matter of fact, she's a little snooty.  And oh, she's definitely not funny.

Mrs. O'Reilly the nosy landlady and Professor what's-his-name; they pop in now and then to see what kind of mess Irma has gotten herself into - they sound they like they are straight out of a 7th grade Junior High School comedy. And oh, they aren't funny either.

I've endured at least 20 episodes of this nonsense and that's at least 19 more episodes than I needed to endure.

A one half star rating - if that, I'll give it.  It's not even a time-killer.  It's just something I have tried to endure so I could write about it.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

John Dehner in dual roles

In our retrospective of old-time radio, we have the chance to looks at all performances with our "telescopes" (mp3) and listen to in the neighborhood of 40% of all major radio performances.

Sure, that's 60% not covered but of that 60%, most of it is stuff we probably wouldn't to hear anyway and probably 75% of it is music.

At any rate, there have been some fine performances along the way.  It is often pointed out on this website how great Orson Welles was and I like to think of Lurene Tuttle as being a female version of Welles.  And you know I like Agnes Moorehead but I probably like many others just as much.

I mentioned those 3 actors specifically because they are about fourth of the dozen or so actors and actresses I can recall playing star dual roles in OTR.

Well I heard another one not too long ago.  Sometime, check out Frontier Gentleman and episode "Belljoy's Prisoner" (580608) when versatile John Dehner plays J.B. Kindle, the Frontier Gentleman and a crazy fat guy from the backwoods.  It's pretty good stuff.  Two completely different roles and done so well, it's hard to imagine they are the same man.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Most unique person/people in radio?

Fred Allen advert in the comic section

It's rare when radio show ever advertised in the comic section of newspapers - that is, unless the advertisement was about a crossover comic/radio show, such as The Lone Ranger, Superman, Charlie McCarthy, Mark Trail, Blondie, etc.

Here's one I found today of Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa, announcing the return of their show off summer vacation in 1948:

Mary Livingstone preferred quiet life

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