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Showing posts from May, 2012

Good Night Al Gordon, passing of Jack Benny Skit Writer

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Al Gordon and Hal Goldman joined Jack Benny' s writing team in 1950. Jack Benny''s radio show was famously dependent upon his writers, and was quick to give them credit for making him look good. Despite Jack's supposed reputation as a cheap skate, his writers were also some of the best paid in Hollywood. It wasn't that Jack Benny couldn't be funny without a script, but he was much more comfortable performing with one. One well reported incident occurred when Jack stopped a rehearsal to call his writers around him. "Look," Jack told the writers, "I want to give Mel Blanc credit. I want a line for the tag of the show that says the part of the violin teacher was played by Mel Blanc." One of the four writers took Jack's script from him and wrote "The part of the violin teacher was played by Mel Blanc." Reading the new writing in the script, Jack said "This is great. This is exactly what I wanted to say. Gees, thanks guys.&qu

It Isn't Always About the Money: Quiz Show Prizes

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In a world where $80 cable bills and monthly cellphone charges in excess of $100 are not uncommon, where the cost of producing a penny exceeds the coin's face value by a significant percentage, where the price of filling the gas tank can sometimes exceed what many of us paid for our first car, it can be refreshing to hear Old Time Radio Quiz Shows where the prize is often ten dollars or less. Obviously ten bucks had a lot more "meaning" in the 1940s and 50s than it does in the 21 st century, but there is a definite feeling that the radio quiz shows were more about fun and entertainment than about giving away or winning large sums of money. There were exceptions; on the wildly popular Queen For a Day the contestants were often competing for some serious help from the sponsors, as well as a suite of rather glamorous prizes in the form of housewares, appliances, and beauty supplies and treatments. It Pays To Be Married also gave some rather significant priz

Howard Hughes Hearings, 1947

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Howard Hughes was summoned to Washington D.C. in 1947 to be raked over the coals but turned the tables on the committee,  giving better than he got! In 1947, Howard Hughes was summoned before the senate to testify about the government contracts Hughes Aircraft and Electronics won during World War II. ABC recorded the hearings and provided a 25 minute synopsis with commentary and descriptions when required. The hearings were often contentious between Hughes and the committee especially between Hughes and Senator Ralph Brewster. Before the hearings started, Hughes mounted a giant publicity campaign lambasting the hearings and, specifically, Brewster. He charged that the senate was protecting Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) against Hughes' Trans World Airlines (TWA). Hughes said that Brewster even suggested merging TWA and Pan Am. The Hughes Hearings were an exercise in how to take on a bunch of senators and win. Hughes believed that the hearings were intended to d

Religion in Old Time Radio

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A working definition of Christian Missionary work is "One who is to witness across cultures." The term Missionary comes from the Latin term  missionem,  "to send forth". Many churches have sent their representatives out into the world to spread their message and to do good works in the name of the church. Radio has always been a valuable missionary tool. There is anecdotal evidence that radio sets came into the homes of many  Fibber McGee and Molly ,  Buck Rogers , and  Suspense!  fans so that a senior member of the family could enjoy the gospel music and sermons of a favorite radio preacher. And in many cases these religious were very entertaining, although there are cases where the spiritual leaders found themselves embroiled in scandal. It is not the purpose of this article to pass judgment on these scandals, but merely to report where appropriate. Father Coughlin The Catholic Hour  became part of the NBC line-up in 1936 with the cooperation of