Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar, re-invigorating the should-have-been-exhausted character. (Photo: CBS.)
His early life isn’t much known or recorded. But Bob Bailey, yet another alumnus of Chicago’s fertile 1930s radio community, went from “born in a trunk” (as most sketchy biographies of the actor phrase it) to “the man with the action packed expense account” at a time when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar needed either a shot in the head or a kick in the ass to deliver it from the near-banality in which it was mired since its uncertain birth in 1949.
The CBS Radio Workshop: Bring On the Angels (CBS, 1956)
The Sage of Baltimore at a radio microphone during the height of his career. (Photo: NBC.)
H.L. Mencken once called his early professional life as a newspaper reporter the “maddest, gladdest, damnedest existence ever enjoyed by a model youth,” saying he had “a grand and gaudy time of it, with no call to envy any man.”
Tonight that life is given as effective a radio treatment as could be asked, based largely on Mencken’s own memoir Newspaper Days, but told harrowingly through the memory of the stricken Mencken whose 1948 stroke—not long after covering that year’s Democratic National Convention, and fifteen days after approving the final copy-edited manuscript for his classic anthology, A Mencken Chrestomathy—ended his career tragically.
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8 June: “The Maddest, Gladdest, Damnedest Existence”
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Day two of Operation Overlord, the official name of the D-Day invasion, launches—so far as classic radio lovers should be concerned—with an immortal eyewitness report.
George Hicks—His report from the Ancon becomes immortal radio. (Photo: NBC.)
TUNE IN TODAY: D-DAY, DAY TWO—ABOARD SHIP
Live News: Aboard the USS Ancon (Blue Network)—The unforgettable eyewitness report—by George Hicks, who will stay aboard the former NBC Blue as it becomes the new ABC—of a period during day two of Operation Overlord, Hicks describing vividly but modestly the continuing landings on the beaches and air sorties above the area in support of the landing troops, even as the Ancon itself appears to come under fire during the operation and fights back.
Morgan Beatty. (Photo: NBC.)
Whether these were old-time radio’s finest hours should be left to those who are there to hear it—surely there remain many among us who were—and to those who will hear, remarkably enough, seventy years to the day later.
It would be remarkable, too, if I could present every last hour of broadcast on this day to that century that came, but the time and space constraints make it impossible at minimum. The entire broadcast days of NBC—6 and 7 June, 1944 (at least, from 0200 hours in NBC’s case)—will survive, miraculously, for the 21st Century listener. So will CBS’s complete coverage of the invasion.
Posted in classic radio, History/Documentary, News and comment, old-time radio, World War II
Tagged Alexander Scourby, Bob Hope, Bret Morrison, D-Day, Don Hollenbeck, Douglas Edwards, Edward R. Murrow, Fibber McGee & Molly, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, H.V. Kaltenborn, Jim Jordan, Julie Stevens, Lowell Thomas, Maj. George Fielding Eliot, Marian Jordan, Morgan Beatty, Richard Harkness, The Romance of Helen Trent, Valiant Lady
Mr. Allen, still at the height of his career. (Photo: NBC.)
We’ll let the man’s own recollection, shortly before his death, speak for itself here:
Posted in classic radio, comedy, old-time radio
Tagged Allen's Alley, Fred Allen, Herman Wouk, Jack Benny, Judy Canova, Martha Raye, Orson Welles, Robert Benchley, Texaco Star Theater, The Fred Allen Show, The Linit Bath Club Revue, The Mighty Allen Art Players, The Texaco Workshop Players, Town Hall Tonight