Two days in November: Old-time radio listening, 7-8 November

Sylvia Picker, as Alan Ladd’s airy secretary on Box 13 . . . (Unknown publicity photo)

Two days in November. The perfect palliative for electoral hangovers, considering that, the way we got blitzed with political ads this time around, oh brother did we need a drink—even before we went out to vote, if we did . . .

Comedy

7 November

The Fred Allen Show: Sam Shovel, Private Eye (NBC, 1948)—The famous guarantee indemnifying listeners against what they might lose if they listen to Allen instead of a competing giveaway show continues. The Main Street (erstwhile Allen’s Alley: Kenny Delmar, Parker Fennelly, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed) gaggle contemplate a shortage of doctor. Allen is joined by Arthur Treacher in a clever spoof of The Adventures of Sam Spade, proffered when Treacher mentions he’s been booked to star in a new crime drama. Announcer: Kenny Delmar. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Bob Weiskopf, Robert Schiller.

Our Miss Brooks: The Workhorse (CBS, 1948)—Overloaded with work preparing the mid-term exams is nothing for Connie (Eve Arden), compared to being overloaded with suggestions for hobbies. Cheerfully typical entry and that’s a good thing. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Conklin: Gale Gordon. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Bob LaMond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis.

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: A Job for Willie (NBC, 1948)—Phil’s (Harris) fed up with Willie’s (Robert North) interference until the sponsor’s representative (John Beale) asks Phil to suggest a Canadian company representative—assuming he and Remley (Elliott Lewis) can convince Willie and Alice (Faye) it’s the right move. Barbara: Sally Creighton. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Scharf, Phil Harris Orchestra. Director: Paul Phillips. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Needs Glasses (NBC, 1950)—The Seer of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) is worried about his eyes, but he has to be convinced by Doc Gamble (Arthur Q. Bryan) to see an optician (Cliff Arquette) who proves even flakier than McGee. Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Director: Max Hutto. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

The Halls of Ivy: Halloween (NBC, 1951)—While Wellman (Herb Butterfield) the rat is away, the Ivy cats—and, sometimes, one of their fathers (Hanley Stafford)—will play, as the Halls (Ronald and Benita Colman) learn when Vicki discovers Wellman’s grandfather’s bust defaced and Merriweather (Gale Gordon) discovers fake street workers excavating a grave in front of Wellman’s house—before Faculty Row street repairs he authorised were to begin. John: Charles Smith. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: Henry Russell. Director: Nat Wolfe. Writers: Don Quinn, Ronald Colman.

8 November

The Pepsodent Show with Bob Hope: Guest—Chico Marx (NBC, 1938)—A lull in election returns (“There’ve been so many campaign speeches on the radio that last night I turned on my radio and it handed me a cigar”), and Chico Marx (fresh from having made the Marx Brothers’ Room Service) joins the joke machine and starts with an early fragment of a bit that would become legendary in the Marx Brothers canon in general and in A Day at the Races in particular, the fabled “Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream” routine. It’s worth the visit just for that alone, though you won’t be disappointed when Chico tries to hustle Rose Bowl tickets to Ol’ Ski Nose, either. Additional cast: Jerry Colonna. Announcer: Bill Goodwin. Music: Skinnay Ennis Orchestra, Six Hits and a Miss. Writers: Possibly Mel Shavelson, Milt Josefsberg, Norman Panama.

The Great Gildersleeve: A Quiet Evening at Home (NBC, 1942)—Good luck with that, as chez Gildersleeve is bedeviled by the water commissioner (Harold Peary) plowing through the bills he’s put off seeing since the beginning of the month and thinking more evenings at home might mean more money saved—if slightly less sanity. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Bessie: Pauline Drake. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Leila: Shirley Mitchell. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra. Director: Cecil Underwood. Writer: John Whedon.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Cuckoo Clock (NBC, 1949)—The world’s worst fix-it man (Jim Jordan) absolutely insists on fixing Teeny’s (Marian Jordan, who also plays Molly) cuckoo clock despite her insistence that everything he’s fixed for her before has ended up just about the way things end up at 79 Wistful Vista. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Bessie: Cliff Arquette. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

Historical note: The broadcast begins with NBC News anchor James Fleming announcing the New York Times and the New York Herald-Tribune calling incumbent William O’Dwyer re-elected as New York City’s 100th mayor, after succeeding Fiorello H. La Guardia in 1946.

The problem will prove to be that O’Dwyer will not even get close to finishing his second term—he will be forced to resign well enough short of a year after his re-election in the wake of a police corruption scandal.

The same report says both newspapers call it slim lead for incumbent Boston mayor James Curley—whose first election to political office (as a Boston alderman) came while he was in prison for fraud (involving his taking exams for two postal aspirants in his district)—over the opponent who would ultimately defeat him.

That opponent, John Hynes—who had been Curley’s city clerk, and was acting mayor when Curley went to prison a second time for mail fraud during the incumbent term—was so steamed when Curley was released from prison and announced, “I have accomplished more in one day than has been done in the five months of my absence,” that he challenged and would defeat Curley later tonight, ending Curley’s long political career at last.

The Marriage: Ben’s Shady Client (NBC, 1953)—Ben’s (Hume Cronyn) law firm may not be too colourful, but neither are they immune to the occasionally dubious client—even if he means big business for the firm—that makes a man stare vacantly during dinner. Underrated light comedy of manners, at times approaching highbrow, but an intriguing vehicle for a pair of stage legends. Liz: Jessica Tandy. Emily: Denise Alexander. Barney: Larry King. Jake: Ed Begley. Additional cast: Ed Lattimer, Ann Thomas. Director: Edward King. Writer: Ernest Kinoy.

Our Miss Brooks: The Convict (CBS, 1953)—Conklin’s (Gale Gordon) latest school economy drive may run afoul of the law of unintended consequences, when the school custodian has to quit and Connie (Eve Arden) has an idea about how to replace the man—with an ex-convict convicted by a jury that included Conklin. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Boynton: Robert Rockwell. Miss Enright: Mary Jane Croft. Announcer: Verne Smith. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis. (Warning: Recording compromised after 7:05.)

 

Crime Drama

7 November

Box 13: Triple Cross (Mutual, 1948)—A letter to the box from Nevada lures Dan (Alan Ladd) to fly there and wait in his hotel room for an order to wear a red carnation and bet the roulette table—where he wins suspiciously big—until he learns the hard way the sender is a mob boss (Herb Vigran) using him to fix a rival’s game. Laurie: Lurene Tuttle. Tony: Possibly John Beale. Frankie: Possibly Luis van Rooten. Suzy: Sylvia Picker. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Vern Carstensen. Music: Rudy Schrager. Director: Russell Sandville. Writer: Russell Hughes.

The Whistler: Cover-Up (CBS, 1948)—Separated but not divorced from his wife, Adele, David Blaine (Ned Lefever) isn’t aware her sister, Joan Harper (Laurette Sobran), has been in love with him since before they separated . . . or that the sheriff investigating the crime was in love with Adele—and may suspect David of shooting her to death. Additional cast: Unidentified. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Louis Hampton.

 

8 November

The Green Hornet: The Hornet Drops a Hint (ABC, 1945)—Freshly freed from prison, a suave, usually cunning gangster, has an intriguing proposition to ponder that might help him get even with the Hornet (Bob Hall), who helped imprison him in the first place. Typical of the series. Kato: Rolland Parker. Lenore Case: Lee Allman. Axford: Gil Shea. Additional cast: Unknown. Director: Charles Livingstone. Writer: Fran Striker.

Richard Diamond, Private Detective: Dead Man’s Letter (NBC, 1950)—Diamond (Dick Powell) finds a corpse who turns up missing after he recovers from a blindside knockout from two thugs, a new client ( Virginia Gregg) who wants him to help a visiting South American rebel commander (Barton Yarborough), and himself knocked out and abducted—all, apparently, over a map leading to a stash the commander hoped to retrieve to finance his challenge to his homeland’s government. Yes, they’re pushing it a little bit. Additional cast: Barney Phillips, Wilms Herbert, Arthur Q. Bryan, Lou Krugman. Lt. Levinson: Ed Begley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Director: Jaime del Valle. Writer: Blake Edwards.

Dragnet: The Big Hit-and-Run Killer (NBC, 1951)—An unknown young woman is found strangled to death after a brutal beating in a seedy downtown hotel room and with no apparent lead to her identity or her killer, sending Friday (Jack Webb) and Romero (Barton Yarborough) on a hunt that leads them on a fruitless pursuit until clues to her truly troubled life begin to reveal just how senseless her death was. Boarding House Mistress: Possibly Georgia Ellis. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Hal Gibney, George Fenneman. Music: Walter Schumann. Director: Bill Rousseau. Writer: James E. Moser.

 

Drama/Dramatic Anthology

8 November

Escape: Plunder of the Sun (CBS, 1949)—A Chilean antique dealer (Harry Bartell) and his nurse (Lucille Meredith) ask an American (Paul Frees) to smuggle a Peruvian artifact back to that country after it was first smuggled out, without telling him just what the package is, but when the dealer dies on their sea voyage to Peru it prompts opening of the package, fear of another American tourist (Gerald Mohr) and an even shadier Peruvian antiquer, and a possible Incan treasure that may figure as the linchpin to the entire crisis. Based on the novel by David Dodge. Additional cast: Charlie Lung, Tony Barrett. Announcer: Frank Goss. Music: Del Castillo. Director: William N. Robson. Writer: John Dunkel.

 

Fantasy

7 November

Quiet, Please: Adam and the Darkest Day (ABC, 1948)—Three Chicagoans survive an otherwise life-destroying atomic explosion, including a scientist (William Adams) who can only hope to live long enough to teach the other couple (Ernest Chappell, who narrates; Kathleen Connell) how to start the human race all over again—after the earth returns to its sun following the explosion’s orbit disruption. Music: Albert Buhrmann. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.

 

Mystery/Thriller

8 November

Suspense: The Bet (CBS, 1945)—It’s Lee J. Cobb’s show as an artist haunted by a woman, a statue of the goddess of destruction, Sheba, and a two-year, $50,000 challenge to his diligence in Trinidad a year earlier. Additional cast: Unknown. The Man in Black: Joseph Kearns. Announcer: Truman Bradley. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writers: James Nelson, Donald S. Ryeson.

 

Quiz

8 November

Information, Please: Half a Quartet (NBC, 1943)—Half of the U.S. Senate’s legendary “B2H2″ quartet—who earn the nickname when they sponsor a bill (also given the same nickname) pressing for American participation in what would become the United Nations, in due course—gets a chance to sit on the spot with a legendary old-time radio brain panel today. Sens. J. Lister Hill (D-Alabama) and Joseph H. Ball (R-Minnesota) join regular panelists John F. Keiran (sportswriter,The New York Times, credited with coining “grand slam” as a tennis term) and Franklin P. Adams (retired longtime newspaper columnist, whose doggerel about B2H2—Sens. Harold Burton [D-Ohio] and Carl Hatch [D-New Mexico] completed the quartet—is read on the air). Who says politics can’t be mad fun? Moderator: Clifton Fadiman. Announcer: Ben Grauer. Director: Dan Golenpaul.

 

Western

8 November

The Six Shooter: The Return of Stacy Gault (NBC, 1953)—Locals are alarmed because outlaw Stacy Gault is rumoured coming to town, and Ponset (Stewart) is alarmed when they want to string up a loner who just so happens to hit town at the hysteria’s beginning. Additional cast: Eleanor Audley, Parley Baer, Forrest Lewis, Barney Phillips. Announcer: Hal Gibney. Music: Basil Adam. Director: Jack Johnstone. Writer: Frank Burt.

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