Eternal love lost: Old-time radio listening, 24 November

Quiet, Please: In Memory of Bernadine (Mutual, 1947)

Wyllis Cooper, Quiet, Please‘s mastermind . . . (Photo: Mutual)

Few of the haunters who populate this singular radio classic of psychological fantasy prove as unforgettable as tonight’s, and the writing and acting are both so skilled that what could devolve to soapish, bathetic melodrama remains charming and, in its way, touching.

A soldier (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) is haunted by the wife (Nancy Sheridan) he left behind after basic training, when working toward his commission, and he’s only too conscious of his life’s emptiness before they met and since he’s lost her . . . not to mention his shame at having depended so deeply on her love and approval, especially when he remembers her promise to be with and in him always, his thoughts and memories now all that stand between himself and his fears.

Small wonder Quiet, Please receives more listener requests for copies of its scripts than any program in Mutual’s lineup, a trend that will continue when the show moves to ABC. A phenomenon to which its creator/director/writer will surrender in due course, despite his early misgivings (My scripts are not intended to be read, they’re intended to be listened to), when a book of Quiet, Please scripts is published.

Harry Foster: Melbe Ruick. Music: Gene Perazo. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.

 

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber’s Getting Into Condition (NBC, 1942)—The Sleeper of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) starts with a morning radio exercise program, but he wants to end it posthaste when Wimpole (Bill Thompson) offers to send his big ol’ wife Sweetieface over to, ahem, work him out. (Out . . . or over?) Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Radio host: Frank Nelson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

It Pays to Be Ignorant: Why is Kissing a Girl Like Opening a Bottle of Olives? (CBS; AFRS rebroadcast, 1944)—If you have to ask, you’re not all the way in on this cheerful insanity, as is Harry Hirschfield, a cartoonist and panelist on a crackpot jokefest of his own. (Can You Top This?) Host: Tom Howard. Panel: Harry McNaughton, Lulu McConnell, George Shelton. Announcer: Ken Roberts. Music: Harry Salter. Director: Herb Polesie. Writer: Ruth Howell.

The Great Gildersleeve: The Helicopter Ride (NBC, 1948)—Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) gives in and lets Leroy (Walter Tetley) accompany him to the office over Thanksgiving, where he quakes over having to fly to the storm reservoir by helicotper to release more water. Marjorie: Mary Lee Robb. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Adeline: Una Merkel. Pilot: Arthur Q. Bryan. Announcer: John Wald. Music: Jack Meakin. Director: Frank Pittman. Writers: Jack Elliotte, Andy White.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Selling Doc the Ring (NBC, 1953)—Swindled into buying a phony ring with Molly’s (Marian Jordan) women’s club money, the Sap of 79 Wistful Vista figured some pigeon will come along to buy it. Doc Gamble: Arthur Q. Bryan. Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Announcer: John Wald. Director: Max Hutto. Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.

 

Crime Drama

Rocky Fortune: Murder on the Aisle (NBC, 1953)—Rocky (Frank Sinatra) is assigned to a magazine editor who wants him to escort a famous, caustic, and very alcoholic drama critic to a new play opening—which proves curtains for the critic after the first act, though not quite for the motive Rocky thinks. Additional cast: Elaine Ross, Leslie Worth, Stutz Kotsworth, Arnold Moss, James Munce, Roger De Kovan, Bill Zukis. Announcer: John Wald. Director: Fred Wade. Writer: Ernest Kinoy.

 

Drama/Dramatic Anthology

The Hallmark Playhouse: The Courtship of Miles Standish (CBS, 1949)—David Niven plays John Alden in this radio adaptation of Longfellow’s poem—an obvious model for Cyrano de Bergerac—of the early Plymouth Colony, in which widowed Standish asks Alden to match him to Priscilla Mullens . . . who actually has eyes for Alden himself. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Frank Goss. Host: James Hilton. Music: Lyn Murray. Director: Bill Gaye. Writer: Jean Holloway.

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