Further Pearl aftermath: Old-time radio listening, 10 December

Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Death Valley Takes a Holiday (CBS, 1941)

Mr. Allen wasn’t averse to appearing in wartime hint ads from his Texaco Star Theater sponsor.

As proves so with just about all radio entertainers, Fred Allen yields to the impact of Pearl Harbour on his first show following the atrocity. The classic Texaco Star Theater introduction—the clanging bells and siren, punctuated by the cartoonish car horn, telegraphing a brief fanfare and announcer Jimmy Wallington’s hail (“It’s Texaco time with Fred Allen!”)—is muted for once.

Wallington introduces Larry Elliott to open instead with a remarkable announcement on behalf of the sponsor, cut off only partially (in its beginning) by some surviving recordings:

Tonight, on the air, we hope our Fred Allen show, going on as usual, will provide our audience with helpful diversion. For civilian morale is important, when the first task of every American is to help make America strong. To this task, we dedicate our manpower, our machines, our industry. In this respect, the Texas company is proud to report that the strength of our vital oil industry is by far the greatest in the world. Even the Texas company alone produces more petroleum than all of Europe exclusive of Russia. Yes, all of us have our jobs to do in helping to make America strong. And every American pledges in heart, and in mind, to make it stronger and stronger.

From that point will come the mirth for which the master satirist and his players are renowned justly enough.


Jimmy Wallington. (CBS.)

Including, but not limited to: A should-be news roundup participant waxing on his foggy deer call; Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed) barreling in with his customary doggerel; fanfare and foolery prior to a guest appearance from Hollywood gossip legend Louella Parsons, who has to survive Kenny Baker’s anxiety to break into the pictures; a typical feuding poke or two at an old character actor named J. Benny, Esq.; and, the former Mighty Allen Art Players, now known as the Texaco Workshop Players (Reed, Baker, John Brown, Minerva Pious, Jack Smart, possibly Charles Cantor) taking a not-so-genteel but hardly disrespectful jab at the legendary Death Valley Days.

With Portland Hoffa. Announcer: Jimmy Wallington. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, Kenny Baker, Jack Wilson. Writers: Fred Allen, Arnold Auerbach, Herman Wouk.


News: The Three Front War (CBS)—Updating a passel of war maneuvers around the fulcrums of the battles.

News Bulletin: “Three Direct Hits” (CBS)—Citing sources from the Army, that’s what John Daly reports were made by Army Air Corps bombers against Japanese ships in the Philippines. Also: Further war updates, including the situation in Hawaii itself three days after Pearl Harbour was attacked, and the British standing regarding its then-colony Hong Kong, among others.

(Note: This bulletin actually aired at the end of Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen. If you’re not an Allen fan, more’s the pity, of course, but you can skip tonight’s TST and hear the bulletin separately if you choose!)



The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny: From San Bernadino, California (NBC, 1944)—Guest Dorothy Lamour joins the crew, barely recovered from Jack (Benny) and Don’s (Wilson) argument over famous sayings, before a crowd of troops. Cast: Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Eddie Anderson, Larry Stevens. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: George Balzar, Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Getting LaTrivia and Doc to Fight (NBC, 1946)Molly (Marian Jordan, who also plays Teeny) can’t understand why McGee (Jim Jordan) wants to force the mayor (Gale Gordon) and the doctor (Arthur Q. Bryan) into a brawling showdown over a woman in whom they both seem interested. Mrs. Carstead: Bea Benaderet. Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.


Crime Drama

The Whistler: With My Own Eyes (CBS, 1946)—In Florida resting on doctor’s orders, a woman (Betty Lou Gerson) choosing to move permanently rents a room in an older house, and is jolted her first night staying there when she discovers the woman who rented it to her is murdered—and can’t convince anyone she saw the body. Additional cast: Unidentified. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Unidentified.


Drama/Dramatic Anthology

The Hallmark Playhouse: Woman with a Sword (CBS, 1948)—The Hollister Noble biographical novel is adapted tonight with Ida Lupino featuring strongly as Anna Ella Carroll, the Maryland political crusader who became a trusted wartime advisor to Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, but whom history took long enough to recognise for her contributions. Additional cast: . Host: James Hilton. Announcer: Frank Goss. Music: Lyn Murray. Director: Dee Engelbach. Writer: J. Richard Kennedy.



The Big Show: “And What Patent Medicine Are You Selling?” (NBC, 1950)Clifton Webb opens with some good-natured needling of hostess Tallulah Bankhead’s newfound radio and lecturing life, before the typical striking potpourri of comedy, music, and drama. Additional guests: Eddy Arnold, Charles Boyer, Joe Bushkin, Mindy Carson, Imogene Coca, Jimmy Durante. Music: Meredith Willson Orchestra, the Big Show Chorus. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Greene.



Suspense: Blackjack to Kill (CBS, 1951)—An assassin (Victor Mature) draws high card and, thus, a $10,000 job for whom the victim won’t be revealed until he meets his actual employer. Additional cast: Herbert Butterfield, Clayton Post, Harry Bartell, Eddie Firestone, Joseph Kearns, Steve Roberts. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Lucien Morelick, Bud Ludkin. Writers: Morton Spillane, David Friedkin.



You Bet Your Life: The Secret Word is “Fire” (NBC, 1952)—Groucho Marx sings two verses of his legendary Animal Crackers signature (and, coincidentally, this show’s usual theme song), “Hooray for Captain Spaulding.” Then, a French war bride (World War I, in fact) and a film grip; a processed food packer and a theater manager; and, a UCLA teaching student and a small business owner, get to bathe in Groucho’s usual randy repartee. Announcer: George Fenneman. Director: John Guedel.

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15 Responses to Further Pearl aftermath: Old-time radio listening, 10 December

  1. Yowp says:

    That’s not Jimmy Wallington at the opening of the Fred Allen Show. It’s Larry Elliott. Wallington’s far more resonant and the full recording of the opening, which survives intact, has Wallington intro him. Elliot begins:
    “This is the first Texaco Star Theatre broadcast ever to go on the air without its distinguishing air signature, the sound of the siren and bell. This change has been made because the siren has now become a signal of alarm and danger throughout our nation. So, to avoid any possibility of confusion or disturbance to our listening audience, the sound of the siren and bell will be missing from the Texaco Star Theatre until further notice.
    “Yes, within the last few days, America has seen great changes. The shock of being at war has made itself felt in the heart of every American and has influenced the thinking of every citizen.”

    And then it carries on as you’ve transcribed.

    And, yes, that’s Charlie Cantor doing his Logan Jerkfinkle voice as Fulcrum T. Biddle after Allen kibbitzes with Wallington at the outset of the show.

  2. Jeff Kallman says:

    Yowp—Thanks! I’ve fixed the piece accordingly. But where can you get the complete recording? The only copy I’ve found is the one I use and link here, I’ve been looking for a complete one (if it existed) for ages!—Jeff

  3. Henry Tchop says:

    Could that bulletin about the sinking of the Japanese battleship (I have that bulletin but have not heard it awhile) be the famous Colin Kelly incident? According to the story I have read on Dec 9, 1941 B-17 pilot Colin Kelly and crew were bombing shipping in the Philippines when they were jumped by Japanese fighters and shot down with the surviving crew bailing out and Kelly dying in the bomber. The story that the OWI released was (and I might be wrong, but not sure) was that after the crew bailed out Kelly intentionally crashed the crippled B-17 into a Japanese battleship. In reality a transport was all that was sunk. Anyway, America had it’s first hero of the war.

  4. Jeff Kallman says:

    Henry—It’s entirely possible that that was the story, though of course it’d be a difficult confirmation. From what I’ve read, Kelly ordered his crew to bail after the plane was hit heavily by Japanese firing and the plane crashed at Clark Field, its staging field, shortly after the final crewman bailed, killing Kelly. I think there’s a book out somewhere about Kelly, “The Legend of Colin Kelly,” I think 2000 was the publication date.

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