Requiem for a Duke: Old-time radio listening, 11 April

World News Today: Pinning Rommel (CBS, 1943)

The Duke of Collingwood (right) confers with his mentor Edward R. Murrow. (Photo: CBS.)

Of all the team who come to be known as “Murrow’s Boys,” after the man who hired them for CBS and in honour of their often daring World War II reporting, few cut as singular a figure as does Charles Collingwood.

Even under the supervision of Murrow, who wasn’t exactly a slouchy dresser himself, Collingwood is noted for his sartorial splendour as well as his reportorial eye. Indeed, the nickname the Duke of Collingwood attaches not just because of Collingwood’s debonair personal appearance and manner, but because his reporting from the war theaters—such as northern Africa, as tonight—earns a reputation for what some call “spontaneous elegance,” delivered in a style that is as low key as Collingwood himself.

This urbane man who proves an urbane and thoughtful war correspondent will eventually lose a plum or two in the swelling CBS firmament because of his unforced sophistication. But on other assignments it will prove a distinct advantage, as Collingwood will follow World War II with distinguished reporting from the United Nations, North Vietnam (the first American network correspondent allowed there), the Six-Day War in the Middle East, Teheran during the earliest days of the hostage taking at the American embassy, and the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

Yet it will also prove Collingwood’s fate that most of a future generation will recall him not as a coolly elegant war correspondent or international reporter but as the man who presides when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy presents a previously-unfathomable television hour, an inside tour of the White House itself.

A year before his death of cancer at 65, Collingwood will make a final memorable appearance, before his forced retirement: a gathering of surviving World War II correspondents who recall the coverage of that war and who offer varying views of the Reagan Administration’s exclusion of media coverage for the invasion of Grenada.

Tonight: Collingwood reports on the continuing Allied push against Rommell’s North African forces, now being pinned further away from the heart of the northern continent and into the northernmost corners, with a final battle for Tunisia iminent.

Also: All quiet on the Russian front, for the most part, while the front reports indicate a possible Nazi regrouping amid occasional artillery fire exchanges and German bombing against communications outposts; heavy raids upon Germany by Allied bombers out of England; a conference on French unity and a central provisional French authority, and concern over whether Charles de Gaulle will accept the plan; a deadline passage for President Roosevelt to veto a debt limit extension bill that would have included a rider limiting civilian salarie, with FDR planning to address the matter publicly; and, a report on “mechanical strengthenings” of Japanese forces against the actual or reputed capabilities of current Japanese military pilots.

Additional correspondents: John Daly, Lee White, George Fielding Eliot, William J. Dunn.

Anchor: Douglas Edwards, in New York. Announcer: Warren Sweeney.




Fibber McGee & Company: The Mailmen (NBC, 1939)—The absence of Marian Jordan (Molly) continues as the show celebrates its 200th broadcast, with the Sap of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) stepping in for a vacationing mailman (Boy, this sack is heavy—what this country needs is more illiterates!) and finding the gig slightly less than simple. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, Donald Nobis, the Four Notes. Writer: Don Quinn.

Forecast: Duffy’s Tavern (CBS, 1940)—Old-time radio’s most cozily enduring flea-trap saloon premieres on this series designed to audition prospective CBS series offerings: The unseen/unheard Duffy feels at least as kvetchy as an Irish barkeep can feel, when shiftless manager Archie (Ed Gardner) can’t seem to find even one Irish tenor in all New York to enhance the dump’s radio premiere—and not even a visit from satire legend Col. Stoopnagle (F. Chase Taylor) can sway the boss’s temper. A nip here and a tuck there, and a series-ready Duffy’s Tavern will graduate, soon enough, from mere wit to comic transcendence. Additional cast: Gertrude Niessen, Larry Adler. Announcer: Mel Allen. Music: Don Kirby Orchestra. Writers: Ed Gardner, Abe Burrows.

My Friend Irma: Jane Meets Irma; or, Dinner Party for Jane’s Boss (Series Premiere; CBS, 1947)—The last of the classic old-time radio dingbats makes her series bow: Receptionist Irma Peterson (Marie Wilson) and sensibly romantic secretary Jane Stacy (the redoubtable Cathy Lewis) become roommates by accident . . . following a sidewalk collision, which may prove to be nothing compared to the collision that might be in store when Irma invites Richard Rhinelander III (Leif Erickson)a—Jane’s boss and would-be boyfriend—to a dinner party in the young ladies’ two-room flat. Al: John Brown. Mrs. O’Reilly: Jane Morgan. Professor Kropotkin: Hans Conreid. Music: Lud Gluskin. Director: Cy Howard. Writers: Stanley Adams, Parke Levy, Roland MacLane.

The Fred Allen Show: One Long Pan with Basil Rathbone (NBC, 1948)—After he mulcts thoughts and asides on exaggeration in advertising from the Allen’s Alley stalwarts, Fred (Allen) answers Basil Rathbone’s (himself) call for new mystery scripts—with a new yarn for his perpatetic Charlie Chan parodist, One Long Pan. With Portland Hoffa. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar (announcer). Titus: Parker Fennelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Music: Al Goodman and His Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Nat Hiken, Bob Weiskopf.



The Mysterious Traveler: Operation Tomorrow (Mutual, 1950)—Scientist’s aide Fred Andrews (Leon Janney) is sent by his employer to a hundred years from 1950, where he discovers an extremely different New York, and America—one that’s been at war for 95 years. Lt. Emily French: Charlotte Holland. Additional cast: Unidentified. The Traveler: Maurice Tarplin. Writers/directors: Robert Arthur, David Kogan.

This entry was posted in classic radio, comedy, mystery/thriller, old-time radio, World War II and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Requiem for a Duke: Old-time radio listening, 11 April

  1. Very interesting article about Charles Collingwood. Had seen him on TV a lot, but never knew he was a World War II correspondent, so now I know he was a big part of the CBS radio coverage. Thanks again for making these old time radio posts. There is nothing else out there as educational and entertaining as your articles.

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