Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One of the greats is gone

Just two days ago, I sat in my easy chair listening to an episode of - oh, I forget - and there was Dick Beals, playing the part of a child, something he did so well.

He was better at it than Walter Tetley, who certainly gets more credit because, after all, Tetley had comedic roles on huge shows.

Beals, while a part of big shows, never or rarely was comedic. His parts were those of kids and on Westerns, it seemed like he always played the part of a kid whose father had ran away when he was a baby. I'm not kidding.

And as I sat in my chair, I thought, "You know, I have to write about Beals. He's one of the best actors in radio."

And this morning, I learn that Mr. Beals died yesterday.

Farewell, Dick Beals, the most underrated actor in radio history.

©Jimbo 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Squad Cars

I have found a gem.  I love finding them and sharing them with you.  This one is one you may have never heard of: Squad Cars.

Information about the show is scarce but it sounds to me as this is a late 1960's show that meandered into the mid-1970's.  It was produced from South Africa so you get those English accents.  While I don't find those annoying, I know some who do.

The show is comparable to Dragnet but without all the police techniques.  And the show is told from about half of the criminal's perspective and about half of the cop's perspective.  If you were to combine Dragnet with This is Your FBI, then the show would sound something like Squad Cars - with the English accents.

A fast moving show, sometimes as fast as anything out there.  Great fun, especially if you like cops-robbers.  The sound quality is very good, so no need to worry about that.

It's definitely worth a listen.  You might find, like me, this show will be one of your favorites.

Find it:
At the Internet Archive
At OTRR (many more than are at the above link)

©Jimbo 2012

Think TV is ridiculous? Try OTR - it's even moreso

I don't usually watch TV but when I was in the hospital recently, I saw plenty of it.

I realized just how good the show, Hawaii Five-O was, for example.  When it comes to people listing off their favorites or some of the best of classic TV, it's not usually on the lists.  You'll see the Andy Griffith Show (which was only great for about 3 years, the rest of the series is either just plain bad (the color TV years) or just not funny (the first few years.)  Compare that show to Hawaii Five-O, which was always good.

But I'm not here to talk about Andy nor Hawaii Five-O.  I'm here to tell you that show radio shows were just ridiculous.

Naw, not Fibber McGee and Molly.  That show was supposed to be ridiculous.  It's a cartoon show, for all intents and purposes.  Same thing with Jack Benny, Amos and Andy etc.  Those shows are supposed to be goofy and are.

Dragnet's not ridiculous.  It's serious.  They did a great job of keeping it serious the whole way. The Six Shooter was another show that kept a level head.  Brit Ponsitt was not a crazy gunslinger, he was a normal man, as a matter-of-fact, a laid back man, even though he had a reputation and it seemed like everyone knew him.  Yet, he wasn't about shooting up the town or beating up guys.  He was about cornbread and snoozin'.

Which leads me to the most ridiculous show on radio - yet one of the most loved.  It's hard not to hear an episode and not like it.  I'm talking about the ridiculous Gunsmoke.  Marshal Matt Dillon obviously had deep psychological problems - at least the radio version of him.  The TV version of him wasn't much better but the radio guy was plum nuts.  How many guys did he beat up with his fists or his gun barrel?  While he was a lawman and was good at what he did, isn't it ridiculous to imagine him taking as many shots as he did and killing or maiming as many guys as he did?  Would it be out of line to venture that the radio version of Dillon killed 400 men?  I have no idea how many times he got shot himself, but it's a bunch.  How many gunshots can a man have and still live?  Did he take 75-100 bullets?  Doesn't that seem like a lot?  Doesn't that seem like too many?

©Jimbo 2012

A few words about the post-1944 Jack Benny Program

I listen to a lot of OTR.  Probably too much.  I say "too much" because  I listen to so much that I miss out listening to some stuff I want to hear because I am listening to other stuff...

My point being that I have tried to listen to the Jack Benny Program in order.  I started in 1937 and got to 1940.  1937 were the first years of Phil Harris and then Dennis Day came along in the 1940's.  Interesting radio.  But not funny radio.

There was a system the show used during that time that changed by the time the mid 1940's came.  I've gone back to listening to the show (after a few month absence) and while Dennis is in the Navy and sorely missed, the show seems to have taken on a new life.  No longer hinged to the - what I've always thought - was a stupid, not-so-funny "play" put on by the cast of the show near the end of the broadcast.  I'm not sure when this stopped, but certainly, sometimes between 1940 and 1944.

Mel Blanc
At least by 1945, the show has new life and no longer slows down to a snail's pace when the 2nd half of the show comes up.  I look forward to listening to the show again, despite the absence of Day, who is currently in the Navy as I listen.  My current schedule has 3-4 Jack Benny episodes scheduled everyday, so I play on writing about these important episodes (yes, I do believe these episodes are important as far as the history of OTR.)

In Day's void is Mel Blanc, who was horrible on everything he ever did (in my opinion) except the Jack Benny radio and TV show and of course, the years of cartoon voicing, which will live forever.  And no once can convince me that the Jack Benny shows (at least post 1944) won't live forever either.

©Jimbo 2012

Podcast mini-series

Working on a mini-series of podcasts about why I created my websites. The first two installments can be found here:

May 26, 2012 Mini-series: How and why I created my websites - OTR Buffet

May 27, 2012 Mini-series: How and why I created my websites - Lum and Abner Dictionary, OTR Advertisements, Billboard OTR Reviews and OTR Books

Sunday, May 20, 2012

photo: Jim Jordan and The King's Men

Help out Donnie Pitchford and the Lum and Abner comics!

Here's an important message from Donnie Pitchford:
The "Lum and Abner" comic strip will soon complete its first year! A second year is in the negotiation stages, but must pay a licensing fee to the trademark owners of "Lum and Abner."

Sponsorships are available, and any amount is appreciated. There are bonuses for amounts of $50 and more. The $50-up sponsor can choose a page of original art from the comic strip series (subject to availability - some are already gone). Also, links and linked banners promoting the sponsor's organization or business are available (as long as they're in good taste of course).

Please visit with Ethan C. Nobles at for all the details:

A visit to Big Town (1941)

Lum and Abner Halloween Ranch Party (1941)

Fibber McGee and Molly's Paradise


Jack Benny's Quiet Vacation (1941)

Jack Benny at Home (another one)


Town Meeting of the Air (Magazine review)

Movie Radio Guide, 1940

Tony Won's Radio Scrapbook (magazine review)

1940, Movie Radio Guide

Announcer Ben Grauer

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