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Chanukah Old Time Radio Show from Eternal Light, 1950

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November 27, 2013: Hanukkah starts tonight at Sundown. Christmas radio shows  were standard broadcasts throughout the  golden age of radio , but listen a rare Hanukkah themed old time radio shows from  Eternal Light   from 1950:

Great Women in Old Time Radio

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Some of our favorite and most prominent women at the radio microphone as  actors include: Agnes Moorehead - the first lady of SUSPENSE! Mercedes McCambridge Lurene Tuttle  Arlene Francis   Mary Jane Higby  Natalie Park  Virginia Gregg Anne Elstner  Virginia Payne  Mary Margaret McBride: The "Oprah" of her time with the largest radio audience  Ora Nichols: The mother of sound effects. She founded the craft of radio sound effects, although it would eventually become a male-dominated portion of radio  Peg Lynch: The best comedy writer in radio who also starred in her own shows  (Mary) Kathleen Hite: The first woman writer on the CBS westerns who would go on to write nearly all of the "Ft. Laramie" scripts and later, many TV westerns  Betty Mandeville: Directed "The FBI in Peace and War" thus becoming the first woman to direct a crime show in prime time  Ruth Woodman: Creator and writer of " Death Valley Days " on radio a

Sam Spade, the Hardest of the Hard Boiled

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When we think of a Hard-Boiled Detective , the image that first pops into our heads is none other than Sam Spade . The question is: how accurate is that picture? The answer is both "very" and "not very". It is far from uncommon for a character or even a story to be modified from the original author's vision. This is especially true when a literary character is adapted for other media. What is interesting in  Sam Spade  's  transformation is that the more he is adapted,  the more correct  he feels to the audience. Convention dictates that the  Sam Spade   introduced to us by Dashiell Hammett would be the correct one. Spade seems to be an amalgam of the actual private detectives that Hammett had worked with when he was an investigator. In the introduction, to the 1934 edition of The Maltese Falcon , Hammett writes that the real private detective has no desire "to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard a

X Minus One: Radio's Greatest Science Fiction Series

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Just as with the Horror Genre , Radio is a superior medium for Science Fiction than TV or Movies. It is not a medium for the lazy Sci Fi fan: the producer couldn't call in the CGI (computer generated image) team and have them created an exploding space cruiser. But for the fan willing to lose himself in his imagination, Radio could make the loneliness of space that much deeper, the burning sands of a distant planet that much bleaker, and the evil of a rogue robot that much more frightening. One of the best Science fiction Anthologies on radio was X Minus One . What made the series great was the stories, which were adapted from the pages of Galaxy Magazine, and later Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. Galaxy had become the leading Science Fiction publisher in the 50's by publishing stories that dealt with social issues and not just technology and monsters. The stories were adapted for radio by NBC staff writers, mostly Ernest Kinoy and Frank Lefferts, who were usually

Science Fiction from the Mutual Network, Pt 2

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The science fiction radio series ,  Exploring Tomorrow   came to Mutual for a short run in 1957-58. The program, which was a summer replacement for  Gangbusters ,  was narrated by  Astounding  Magazine editor John W. Campbell. Favorite episodes include: Exploring Tomorrow :  The Adventure of the Beauty Queen , broadcast 6/25/1958.  Miss USA 1958 is awakened by a mysterious Voice, from the future! A Future scientist is exploring the nature of beauty, and has fallen in love with the Beauty Queen. Now he wants to bring her to the future, to stay with him. Exploring Tomorrow :  First Baby in Space (a.k.a. Space Baby),   by Randall Garrett, broadcast 6/15/1958.  A space station is damaged by a meteorite, for which it is prepared, but it isn't prepared for the expectant mother who is injured, or her baby which will need an incubator to survive. Incubator? There's no incubator on a space station...

Science Fiction from the Mutual Network, Pt 1

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The Mutual Network was in many ways the "little brother" of the Big Four radio networks.  However being small lead to the need to be innovative on many occasions. One example is the world of adult radio Science Fiction . The anthology program  2000 Plus  premiered on Mutual on Mar 15, 1952, nearly a month before  Dimension X  appeared on NBC.  2000+  was unique in that the program used all original stories as opposed to the adaptations featured on  Dimension X   and the later  X Minus One.   S ome of our favorite episodes include: 2000 Plus :  T he Brooklyn Brain , broadcast 6/21/1950.  A young man needs instant wisdom and culture to win his girl, so he volunteers to have scientists give him an electronic brain that will allow him to learn anything instantly. 2000 Plus :    The Green Thing , broadcast 9/27/1950.  A patient in a sanitarium is haunted by dreams of a horrible green monster. The doctors struggle to find what it means when they discover other patients are

Radio's Top Secret and actress, Ilona Massey

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lona Massey was born in Budapest in 1910, while it was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Trained as an opera singer, she worked as a dress maker and theater singer to save money for the trip to Vienna where she joined an Opera Company. Eventually she landed a screen test in London and was offered a Hollywood contract. She appeared in a couple Nelson Eddy operettas, and was billed as "the new Dietrich ." Her acting talent was not quite strong enough, and her soprano voice too light to live up to the hype. She would be called upon to play the alluring sophisticated beauty in Thriller pictures. Notable are  Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman  (1943) with Lon Chaney Jr. and  Love Happy  (1949) with the Marx Brothers. Ilona's character in  Love Happy , the spy Madame Egelichi, was the inspiration for the  Steve Canyon  comic character Madame Lynx.  Steve Canyon   artist Milton Caniff went so far as to hire Massey to model for him. Madame Egelichi/Madame Lynx may

The Best Lone Ranger Costume was on the Radio

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One of the great things about radio was that costumes somehow didn't mean that much. Other than the mask, we are left to our own imagination to decide what the Lone Ranger is wearing. We are pretty sure that he is wearing spurs because we can sometimes hear them when he walks. Sometimes we are told that he is wearing a disguise, often make-up that includes a beard. It is hard to imagine that the bad guys cannot recognize his voice. Listeners usually did. When the Lone Ranger made the move to the small screen, he had to have a costume we could identify. The mask and the obligatory White Hat were not going to be enough. Creator George W. Trendle personally selected actor Clayton Moore to portray the Masked Man, even though Moore had to work hard to sound like the Lone Ranger from the radio , At least seven different actors played the Ranger on the radio. There were several more credited with the role in movies and serials, but the actor most closely identified with the role wil

Summer Replacment Shows during the Golden Age of Radio

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Summer Replacement radio shows allowed big name radio stars to have a break while up and coming stars got a break into show business. As radio's influence grew in the 1930s and 1940s, big name and big money radio ruled the airwaves. Many radio programs centered around a special radio star such as Jack Benny , Fred Allen , Dinah Shore , Red Skeleton , Bob Hope , and George Burns and Gracie Allen . As these stars fame and influence grew, they requested special privileges and most insisted on summer hiatus from their radio gigs. Many radio stars like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were also film stars and were able to leverage time away from their radio programs to make films. Hope and Crosby created the films from the "Road to...(Singapore, Rio, Hong Kong, etc) series while on break from their respective radio shows. However, Some radio stars like married couple Jim and Marian Jordan, who portrayed Fibber McGee and Molly on radio from 1935 until 1959, took a real break and used t

Batman in Old Time Radio

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The back-stories of popular Comic Book Heroes complicated enough to make TV and  Radio Soap Opera  Serials look like "Dick and Jane" stories. The comics provided a good deal of material for  mystery  radio  theater   producers and writers to work with during the  Golden Age of Radio . Just give a listen to  Little Orphan Annie ,  Superman ,  Terry and the Pirates , or  Blondie   to see what we mean. These shows are all well done and enjoyable, but they raise the question "What about  Batman ?" While  Superman   enjoyed a great deal of success on the radio,  Batman  remained a side-kick for  Superman , joining the series in Sept 1945 (years before the two heroes would pair in the comic pages) and sometimes taking over the story later in the series (to allow  Superman   star Bud Collyer some vacation time). Some have conjectured that the Batman/Superman tie-in was intended as promotion for a proposed Batman radio program that was under development in 1943,

Memorial Day Old Time Radio: Columbia Workshop

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Enjoy this amazing old time radio program for  Memorial Day :  This experimental old time radio episode follows US troops occupying France and their philosophical and petty rambling pondering their role in the world. Columbia Workshop's "Brewsie and Willie" from Oct 12, 1946 was written by Gertrude Stein:

Jack Benny's first professional appearance on radio - 81 years ago today!

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Today is the 8st anniversary of the premiere of The Jack Benny Program ! A regular in vaudeville comedy, Jack Benny made his first professional on air appearance in May 2, 1932 on the Canada Dry Program . A different Jack Benny than you know and love, hear Jack Benny as MC in this early 1932 broadcast...

Old Time Radio's Debt to AFRS

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The War Department created the Armed Forces Radio Service on May 26, 1942. The directive brought together separate attempts at broadcasting by and for military personnel. Some of these projects had mission significance, but largely they were attempts on the part of soldiers to entertain their barracks mates. In 1954 Television was added to the service, as well as a less than flattering moniker (AFRTS, "A-Farts"), which has held on even after the 1994 renaming as "The Armed Forces Network". Hollywood began providing free or extremely low priced programming to the AFRS from the very beginning, and this tradition was strengthened after Pearl Harbor. The explosion of patriotism as America entered the War explains this to a certain extent. It is also easy to believe that despite the very public pedestal radio celebrities perched, most held genuine affection and admiration for the boys in uniform. No name is more connected with performing for the troops than  Bob

Fred Allen and his Friendly Feud with Jack Benny

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It is impossible to chronicle the birth of the Fred Allen-Jack Benny radio feud without going into the life and background of Fred Allen . At the age of fourteen, Fred Allen opened a book that would forever change the course of his life . Working as a stock clerk at the Boston Public Library, he picked up a book on the subject of humor. Not only did this literary work put him on the path of comedy, it also sparked a passion that culminated in a book collection. By the time of his death, Fred Allen’s personal library contained thousands of volumes written on the subject of comedy. Beginning his career in vaudeville, Allen soon learned that his comedic skills greatly outweighed his juggling ability and he decided to use the juggling act as an anchor for his comedy. He also appeared in a few short films, before getting his break on radio. At the age of thirty-eight, Fred Allen landed a job, as host of  The Linit Bath Club Revue . The show premiered on October 23, 1932 on the Co

Journey Into Space Radio Program

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In the mid 1950's the British Light Programme service had the idea that a Science Fiction radio series would be popular. The assignment was handed over to producer Charles Chilton. Chilton didn't have any background in science, or science fiction, but the general thought was that if he could produce a successful western from London (Riders of the Range had six seasons, ending in 1953) he should be able to handle a trip to the moon! Originally scheduled for eight episodes, Journey to the Moon proved to be somewhat tedious listening through the first four episodes, as the "groundwork' was established for a moon launch using the best guesses of the potential technology from a 1953 perspective. Once the mission "got off the ground, following the launch of the spacecraft in episode 5, the popularity soared as well, and the series was extended to 18 episodes (the network re-recorded the original series for overseas distribution in 1958, as Operation Luna. This time

St Patricks Radio Shows: The Wearing of the Grin on the Radio

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Maybe Saint Patrick didn't actually banish the serpents from Ireland (there weren't any snakes on the island to banish!) And as it turns out the Irish don't really drink beer that has been dyed green! None the less Americans take time every March 17th to celebrate the Irish; if not the true facts of their homeland, at least we celebrate their marvelous sense of humor! Radio would never have gone anywhere without a sense of humor! Parades are all well and good, but we think a better way to pass the time while we're waiting for the corned beef to boil is to listen to some   free St Patricks radio shows  to enjoy. Remember when SPAM wasn't the bad stuff that got into your computer? SPAM never was a good thing (it isn't all that great boiled with cabbage and potatoes) but Hormel certainly brought us a load of fun with  George Burns and Gracie Allen  on  St Patrick's Day . Most of the episode is dedicated to Gracie's romance with Artie Shaw, but the

Bogie and Bacall's Bold Venture: Old Time Radio Program

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It had been a few very good years for Humphrey Bogart. With the success of The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca , Warner Bros was finally letting the actor loose to explore his versatility. Bogie was incredibly dedicated to his craft; in over 80 films he never arrived late to the set or unprepared with his lines. Unfortunately he was in an unhappy marriage with a woman he cared deeply for. The final tipping point for the "battling Bogart's" came when production began on his 1944 project, and adaptation of Hemingway's To Have And Have Not . The female lead was given to a sultry model from Harper's Bazaar named Betty Perske. Betty took the stage name Lauren Bacall, and after Bogie saw her screen test he told her "We're going to have a lot of fun together." To Have And Have Not was the story of an American drifter running a charter boat service in the Caribbean, facing forces that are greater than he is while remaining true to his ideals and t