Sunday, February 10, 2013

Her poor husband has the gout

Here's a funny moment from the game show, Take It or Leave It (1947):


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good news for fans of The Adventures of Superman!

The following episodes have been found and are available at OTRR.  To my knowledge these are NOT available at

TAoS 40-03-25 (0019) The Yellow Mask Escapes aka The Secret Empire.mp3
TAoS 41-12-03 (0284) The Pan-Am Highway (9 of 15).mp3
TAoS 42-09-23 (0343) The Tiny Men (7 of 10).mp3
TAoS 42-10-21 (0363) The Black Narcisus (8 of 10).mp3
TAoS 43-01-06 (0417) The Tin Man (3 of 15).mp3
TAoS 43-01-07 (0418) The Tin Man (4 of 15).mp3
TAoS 43-01-08 (0419) The Tin Man (5 of 15).mp3
TAoS 43-01-22 (0429) The Tin Man (15 of 15).mp3
TAoS 45-02-14 (0957) The Space Shell (3 of 12).mp3
TAoS 45-12-05 (1176) Looking for Kryptonite (2 of 25).mp3
TAoS 46-02-27 (1235) The Radar Rocket (9 of 20).mp3
You can find them here. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Life of Riley's weird early years

Lionel Stander
When you think of The Life of Riley radio program, I'm sure that you, like me, think of William Bendix as Riley, Paula Winslowe as Peggy and Tommy Cook and Barbara Eiler as the two kids.

The show began in April of 1941.  It was a Saturday morning program, coming on at 10 AM and then later the time was changed to 11 AM.

Lionel Stander played the part of Riley - who then was known as J. Riley Farnsworth.  You might recognize his photo (left) as that fellow on the television show, Hart to Hart.

Having written all of the above, this The Life of Riley show had almost nothing to do with the show we are all more familiar with.  Though the two are lumped together because they have the same title, the less familiar Riley show only lasted about 6 months and it was no more.

There was something very familiar about the above though which made it's way to the more familiar Riley program.  J. Riley Farnsworth's wife was named Peggy - the same name of the Winslowe character.  And her father was the richest man in town, which is pretty much on par with the Winslowe character in the more familiar Riley version.

To my knowledge, there is no available audio of this less familiar program.

Barbara Eiler on the far right
The Riley program we are familiar with began in 1944.  The early days were strange.  For one thing, Chester Riley called his wife, "Mom."  This wasn't uncommon in 1940's.  But it's uncommon for The Life of Riley.

The daughter - we know her as "Babs" (Barbara) was not named Babs but rather, "Eloise" (sometimes they called her "Ellie.")  And of course, the girl who played her wasn't the familiar Barbara Eiler but the unfamiliar Sharon Douglas.

And Junior Riley wasn't the more familiar Tommy Cook but several actors (Conrad Binyon, Scotty Beckett, Jack Grimes, Bobby Ellis.)  Beckett is easily recognizable as he was a member of Our Gang.

Also in the cast was Uncle Baxter, who was played by veteran actor Hans Conried.  By April of 1944, Uncle Baxter was (thankfully) gone.  I never thought he added much of anything to the show, except dead weight.

If you listen to the available shows in order, you can hear Digby O'Dell grow into his part; it seems to get better each episode until he finally settles in the man we know.  Meanwhile, John Brown (who played several parts on the show, including O'Dell and a neighbor, Gillis) has a son whose name changes from something weird (I forget now what it is) to something weirder, "Egbert."  You might be surprised to know that Shirley Mitchell sometimes (not always) played his wife "Honeybee."

I don't want to leave out Dink Trout, who shows up in plenty of the available episodes.  He played Waldo "Oh My Aching Back!" Binny, a neighbor in the pre-Gillis days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The creation of Mortimer Snerd

'Jimmy Crack Corn' on I Was a Communist for the FBI

I was stunned yesterday while re-listening to an episode of I Was a Communist for the FBI - one of the Reds tries to drown out his talking by playing a record of "Jimmy Crack Corn."

Not just "Jimmy Crack Corn" but a rendition which changes keys twice and has a Dixeland feel halfway through it.

I found it to be odd and very noteworthy:


Early radio was like the internet

Have a look at some early shows that were on radio:

As you can see there is a show about stamp collecting, there's another show called 'Commuter's Clock' (I'm assuming this simply TOLD THE TIME OF THE DAY since it was broadcast early the morning) and there's another show, called 'Dental Clinic' which could about about dental hygiene.

At any rate, very early radio was all about a variety of subjects.  I look at it a bit like the internet.

Films based on radio series

My pal, the Reverend Robert Neily, sent me a note about radio series that eventually turned into films.

He sent a link to the Wikipedia article, which I had never seen until now.  The article provides some info I wasn't aware of (I never knew the Nelson family did a film based on the TV/radio series) but it also is bereft of many other films (many Lum and Abner films are missing, for an example.)  Still, an eye-opening article.  (It also fails to mention the upcoming 'The Lone Ranger' film.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Newspaper account of Lou Costello's drowned son

Joan Benny tells a funny story about Jack and his violin

Some Dragnet - Great Gildersleeve trivia

Barton Yarborough, who played Friday's partner Ben Romero, died suddenly on December 19, 1951.

The trivia begins with the eventual replacement: Ben Alexander, who didn't take over until about 8 months later.

Alexander was suggested to Jack Webb by Cliff Arquette, who had worked with Alexander on the Great Gildersleeve show.

Dragnet was also a comic

Fred Allen once wrote for Amos 'n' Andy!

Fred Allen didn't know about mp3s

from previous article

Fred Allen set stage for future comedy

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's Mary Livingstone (Oops, I mean, Joan Benny)

Yeah, I've been on a Mary Livingstone bashing kick as of late.  I thought I would present a few things to you, just to see how you feel about them.

First of all, it's noted in several places (including the almost all-encompassing On the Air OTR Encyclopedia) that Mary Livingstone had huge stage fright problems.  Here's what Dennis Day said about this:

And I skipped around yesterday and listen to the last Benny radio show and it's obvious that Mary isn't Mary at all but Joan Benny instead:

Any regular listener to the show can spot that's not Mary.  I wouldn't have known who it was if not for the OTR Encylopedia, which tells about Joan taking over.

But alas, here's proof that it was Joan, because here is Joan from a 1949 Benny program - and a newspaper article that goes with it:

In 1954, it appears as though Mary did her lines but they were pre-recorded and then played during the show.  If you listen to the show enough, you can spot that there is something wrong simply because of the acoustics and the fact that Mary is much more "lively" when she is on stage.  Her recorded voice is "flat" and "lifeless."

Laura Leff has been a Jack Benny fan forever!

In March of 2011, I conducted an email interview with Laura Leff, the President of the International Jack Benny Fan Club. To this day, that interview has gotten way more hits than anything else ever generated on any of my web sites. I'm quite proud of the fact that she did the interview with me and I have a record of her immense knowledge here on the blog.

Anyway, while doing some research this morning, I found an article written about her at age 17 (in 1986), when she was already a Benny zealot:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hodge-podging: February 1, 2013

I have in front of me a list that I made up a few days ago of some less-obvious things I like and dislike about old-time radio.  I have done a few podcasts on these things lately and I plan on doing more.

I've come to realize though that I enjoy disliking media of all sorts: films, television programs and even old-time radio.   Though I can't stand to watch a bad film, I will be the first to either pan the thing and I'm the first to also praise it, if it's good.  If it's just "okay" I usually won't even bother with it.

Same goes with actors and actresses.  I can tell you a lot about Orson Welles (good) or Alice Faye (bad) and little about Paul Winslowe (okay.)

And I can write a ton about my favorite shows (see my The Crazy World of Vic and Sade website) or even about the bad shows.  It really interests me to write about the bad, in some ways, more than the good.  It wouldn't be hard for me to be motivated to make a website devoted to truly bad radio, making the most snide comments I can imagine.


Other than the Westerns, news, talk and game shows, how many old-time radio programs can you name that never had at least a musical interlude?

I was trying to think of some earlier today and though I did think of a few, they are truly few and far between.  And I don't think there were any comedies at all didn't have a musical interlude (or more.)  And how many can you name that didn't employ a male soloist?  That wasn't a tenor?


I did a short podcast yesterday about Mary Livingstone and realize that I even dislike her more than I led on.  I think I was "nice" because I have the feeling I am the only one who doesn't like her.


I have been having huge urges lately to make a Wikipedia/OTR website, only because I think it would be more helpful to the researcher than you could ever imagine.  That is, except for the fact that the researcher can go and look up anyone now as it is.  Would an index be even more helpful?  It might but how many hours of work would go into such a project?  Way too many, I'm afraid.


I suppose it wouldn't be shocking to anyone reading this for me to tell you that I have an desire to continue producing material for my Vic and Sade website.  If I had some money, I'd go and get all of the remaining articles I don't have and share them with everyone.  Send $500 to Jimbo at my home, at my city, USA.

But seriously, if not for people emailing me asking me continue with general OTR (as opposed to Vic and Sade) I'm afraid you'd might lose me.   I am quite devoted to that program.

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