Two shades of Lurene: Old-time radio listening, 20 November

The Whistler: Death Sees Double (CBS, 1944)

Radio Life staged this photograph to salute Lurene Tuttle’s jaw-dropping turn as identical twins on The Whistler . . .

Yes, this is the same as the 6 November 1944 episode known first as “The Twins.” Unfortunately, “The Twins” was pre-empted, allowing CBS’s national network to carry a speech by Republican presidential aspirant Thomas E. Dewey, the former New York governor challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the first of Dewey’s two failed White House bids.

Thus it airs tonight . . . under the title by which it becomes far better known, thanks especially to Lurene Tuttle, who played the twins in question so deftly in the original transcription. Because pre-recording is yet to become accepted industry wide practise, it can’t be determined for, ahem, dead last certain whether cast and crew performed it live again, or whether a transcription disk recorded during the original performance is used tonight.

Either way, it’s Tuttle’s jaw-dropping performance that carries the episode: Beauteous twins Mona and Martha Spencer (Tuttle), heretofore as matched in their devotion to each other as to their surface physiology, become only too ugly when retiring Martha falls in love with outgoing Mona’s husband-to-be, Bill (Joseph Kearns), provoking Martha to a grave act that may yet backfire upon her—especially since she barely discovers Bill has his own dangerous enough secret.

If it seems at first to be little short of boilerplate, pay attention both to the understated writing (for the most part) and be advised that, at one point in the script, Tuttle has six pages of unbroken dialogue between the sisters, compelling her to use two microphones and their distances, plus her own sense of pitch and timing, not to mention her hands as timely mufflers, to make it work. Which she does, impeccably.

Additional cast: Unidentified. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Bob Anderson. Music: Wilbur Hatch; whistling theme by Dorothy Roberts. Director: George W. Allen. Writers: J. Donald Wilson, Harold Swanton, Joel Malone, with unknown freelancers. (Note: Credits corrected.)

 

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Too Hot to Handle (NBC, 1938)—Jack (Benny) is stuck on the phone with a comely lady, amusing Phil (Harris), Don (Wilson), and Mary (Livingstone) no end as they scurry back to position to keep him from catching onto their eavesdropping; meanwhile, the cast takes a genial poke at the Clark Gable/Myrna Loy vehicle,Too Hot to Handle. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Kenny Baker. Writers: Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow.

Vic & Sade: A Miserable Object of Public Ridicule; or, Rush is Humiliated on Thanksgiving (NBC, 1941)—Vic (Art Van Harvey) and Sade (Bernadine Flynn), enjoying a quiet evening of dreamy gazing and reading, are alarmed when Rush (Bill Idelson) is ready to paste one on Blazer Scott’s nose over revealing . . . the dinner utensils Sade leaves for him at each meal. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

Vic & Sade: Smelly Clark, The Barber (NBC, 1942)—Rush (Bill Idelson) may be taking a big risk letting his buddy give him a haircut—which he learns retrospectively, when he’s in no hurry to take his cap off or let Vic (Art Van Harvey) help him. Sade: Bernadine Flynn. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Architect McGee, Construction Supervisor (NBC, 1945)—The Frank Lloyd Wrong of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) just can’t resist wanting to offer his sage and barely solicited counsel when a new house begins construction next door—and the crew mistakes him for the owner. Alice: Shirley Mitchell. Doc Gamble: Arthur Q. Bryan. Mrs. Carstairs: Bea Benaderet. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Director: Frank Pittman. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

Vic & Sade: Miss Korkell Borrows a Cup of Sugar (CBS, 1945)—Vic (Art Van Harvey) is just a little flabbergasted that Edith Korkell plans to walk twenty blocks over to the Gook house just to borrow a cup of sugar, though Sade (Bernadine Flynn) figures the lady and her husband merely wish to be friendly—which they do, with or without every relative seeming to drop on by as well. Rush: Bill Idelson. Additional cast: Possibly Ruth Perrott, Johnny Coons. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Music: June Lyons (piano), Elwyn Owen (organ), Fred Jackie (bassoon). Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

The Great Gildersleeve: Improving Leroy’s Studies (NBC, 1946)—A rough rainy-day bus trip home from the water works and a surprising conversation with school principal Eve (Louise Erickson) gives Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) a different view of how his home atmosphere impacts Leroy’s (Walter Tetley) education. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Mary Lee Robb. Hooker: Earle Ross. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: John Laing. Music: Jack Meakin. Director: Frank Pittman. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.

The Jack Carson Show: Building Materials (NBC, 1946)—Having bought a live rooster to weather the beef crisis last week, Jack (Carson) is determined to go into the poultry business, beginning with buying his rooster a hen, but (Arthur) Treacher suggests building the coop first, which may prove an even bigger mistake. Tugwell: Dave Willock. Miss Ryan: Irene Ryan. Additional cast: Norma Jean Nilsson, Herb Vigran, Phil Baker. Announcer: Del Sharbutt. Music: Freddy Martin Orchestra. Writers: Leonard L. Levinson, Lou Fulton.

The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny: Jack Goes to Rehearsal (CBS, 1949)—Jack (Benny) is en route to his radio rehearsal and ponders selling his rickety old Maxwell (for a moment, anyway), whose motor (Mel Blanc) dies (yet again) at an intersection, prompting a few gags and reminiscences from guest Ed Wynn, before he arrives at the studio to hear Wynn’s praises sung by Don (Wilson), which pricks Jack’s vanity no end. Additional last: Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Mahlon Merrick, conducting the Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: George Balzer, Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin, John Tackaberry.

Our Miss Brooks: The Party Line (CBS, 1949)—Nothing to do with politics, everything to do with the telephone—on which a party line’s incessant gossip may block Connie (Eve Arden) from hooking up with the district official who may promote her to department head. The usual first-rate Brooksobatics. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Conklin: Gale Gordon. Walter: Richard Crenna. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Writer: Al Lewis.

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: The Talented Children’s Screen Test (NBC, 1949)—After watching the girls in their first school play, a studio scout wants Phyllis (Anne Whitfield) for a film, Little Alice (Jeanine Roos) handles it the typical Harris manner (withering sarcasm), and Alice (Faye) blanches at what it might do to both girls. Those who know Alice Faye’s real-life distaste for the film industry of the time (the compelling reason—other than Darryl Zanuck’s apparently duplicitous freezeout of Faye in favour of Linda Darnell and her concern for raising her real-life children—why she gave up her film career in earnest) will appreciate the none-too-genteel digging especially. Willie: Robert North. Remley: Elliott Lewis. Mrs. Miller: Lois Forman. Julius: Walter Tetley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Scharf, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

 

Crime Drama

The Clock: Lover Boy (ABC, 1947)—A self-doubting playboy (Ken Wayne) who still manages to fleece his lovers now has more than he can handle, including a sexy drive-in waitress (Wynne Nelson) who only seems numb from the neck up . . . and whose steady boyfriend resembles him almost exactly. The acting lifts it somewhat above the customary cliché this scenario usually threatens to become. Additional cast: Moyer Redmond, John Urich, Brian James. The Clock: Hart McGuire. Announcer: Gene Kirby. Music: Bernard Green. Director: Clark Andrews. Writer: Lawrence Klee.

The Whistler: Letters of Aaron Burr (CBS, 1949)—They turn up inside a blue serge suit freshly-liberated convict Ernie Madden (Wally Maher) discards in favour of a more attractive ensemble, and a young woman (Doris Singleton) who followed him from the prison gates to town seems inordinately interested in those letters—which turn out to be forgeries by an elder inmate. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Marvin Miller. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Joel Malone.

 

Drama/Dramatic Anthology

Romance: No Time for Comedy (CBS, 1945)—James Stewart reprises a surprisingly clean adaptation/condensation of his 1940 film role: Playwright Gaylord Easterbrook (Stewart) whose comedies have been great successes lets an arts patron talk him into writing a tragedy, instead, which nearly destroys his happy marriage. If you can handle Stewart sounding a little (and uncharacteristically) weaselish, stay with it. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Frank Graham. Music: Charles Paul. Director: Marx Loeb. Writers: Joel Malone, Stanley Rubin, adapting the play by S.N. Behrman and the screenplay by Julius and Philip Epstein.

 

Mystery/Thriller

The Mysterious Traveler: The Most Famous Man in the World (Mutual, 1951)—Needing extra money with a baby due, Frank and Mabel Richards (Lawson Zerbe, possibly Ann Shepherd) rent one of their rooms to a couple predicting Frank’s fame and claiming to have time traveled from the year 2228 . . . in order to assassinate a Senate candidate destined to become the founding father of an America-based world dictatorship, even if the assassination will mean the end of the wife’s (Jan Miner) life—because she herself is a descendant of the man. If you’re looking for a candidate to name this series’ single most gripping installment, you’ll have a very hard time topping this one. The Traveler: Maurice Tarplin. Announcer: Unknown. Writer/directors: Robert A. Arthur, David Kogan.

Suspense: Night on Red Mountain (CBS, 1960)—During a brittle blizzard, a gas station owner (Lawson Zerbe) comes under seige . . . by members of that old gang of his. You just might feel the blizzard chill during this one. Bat: Jim Bowles. Pete: Mandel Kramer. Sally: Carmen McRae. Sarge: Bob Dreighton. Operator: Ruth Tobin. Dad: Bill Adams. Announcer: George Walsh. Music: Ethel Huber. Director: Bruno Zirato, Jr. Writer: William N. Robson.

 

Western

Gunsmoke: Dutch George (CBS, 1955)—A hustling horse thief (John Dehner) with an apparent knack for evading jury convictions puzzles Matt (William Conrad), who once knew him as a legitimate enough businessman. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Chester: Parley Baer. Additional cast: Vic Perrin, Jim Hunter. Announcer: George Fenneman. Music: Rex Khoury. Director: Norman Macdonnell. Writer: John Dunkel. (Advisory: Flawed tape recording.)

This entry was posted in classic radio, comedy, crime drama, drama/dramatic anthology, mystery/thriller, old-time radio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.