Straight, no chaser: Old-time radio listening, 14-15 May

The Whistler: Golden Opportunity (CBS, 15 May 1949)

Waterman---Slightly more than Gildersleeve Lite. (Photo: NBC.)

Waterman—Slightly more than Gildersleeve Lite. (Photo: NBC.)

Customarily, Willard Waterman is thought of as one of radio’s most consistently working comic character actors, to say nothing of his eventual (and somewhat shocking) takeover of The Great Gildersleeve‘s title role. His vocal and physical resemblance to Harold Peary is just as startling.

In actuality, Waterman is a little more versatile than he’s credited with being. His radio career launched in earnest when he succeeded Peary (!) in the cast of Tom Mix of the Ralston Straight Shooters (the two men, both working in Chicago, became friends), and his resume would come to include a short-lived but effective comedy, Those Websters; roles on Chicago Theater of the Air and Harold Teen; and, roles in at least five soaps: Girl Alone, The Guiding Light, Lonely Women, The Road of Life, and Kay Fairchild, Stepmother. Excluding Gildersleeve, though, Waterman’s best-remembered role might be as amiable board of trustees member Merriweather in The Halls of Ivy, the much-respected Ronald and Benita Colman comedy vehicle.

Waterman, however, can play it straight and dramatic when called upon, as he does tonight. He’s a successful attorney whose gambling has left him financially dependent upon his wealthy but indifferent wife, and at last he plans to escape . . . when his law partner (Wally Maher), with whom his wife’s been having an affair, staggers in to say he killed her—unaware that the gunshot missed and she’s still alive. Leaving Waterman’s attorney with what he thinks might be an effective cover . . . and a jarring revelation from his secretary.

It’s a little clumsy in some portions, but it still works, and Waterman stays with it without missing a step, as should you.

Additional cast: Marty Margette. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Harrison Nagle.

 

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

14 May

My Favourite Husband: Numerology (CBS; AFRS Rebroadcast, 1950)—Liz (Lucille Ball) has a sudden interest in numerology, George (Richard Denning) has an equal disinterest in it, and the numbers just don’t add up—especially when their landlord, who makes decisions based on Ouija board contact with his late wife, informs them he’s raising the rent. Katie: Ruth Perrott. Additional cast: Unknown. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Director: Jess Oppenheimer. Writers: Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll, Jr. (Repeated from 25 December 1948.)

Our Miss Brooks: Boyton’s Parents (CBS, 1950)—Connie (Eve Arden) has enough trouble getting and keeping Boynton (Jeff Chandler) interested in something other than his work (namely, her) without having to keep from going crazy preparing to meet his parents—who think, to their shock, that the Mother’s Day gift she’s hiding for Conklin’s (Gale Gordon) wife is for Mother Boynton. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Announcer: Bob LaMond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Director: Al Lewis. Writers: Al Lewis, Lester White, Joe Quillan.

The Halls of Ivy: Student Singer (NBC; Voice of America rebroadcast, 1952)—Switching on the Ivy College radio station to check the time and reset their watches, Hall (Ronald Colman) and Victoria (Benita Hume Colman) are astonished to learn the beautiful soprano they hear belongs to Ivy music major Marian Coulter (possibly Lurene Tuttle)—who would rather leave Ivy and give up music entirely than deal with bias against her hearing aid, until Hall plants an idea she never considered before. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: Henry Russell. Director: Nat Wolfe. Writer: Don Quinn.

 

15 May

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Murder in the Library (NBC, 1938)—It isn’t exactly Col. Mustard with the lead pipe, kiddies—but it’s a parodic melodrama, and with this bunch you can just take it from there, happily. Cast: Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker, Phil Harris, Don Wilson (announcer). Music: Mahlon Merrick, Phil Harris and His Orchestra. Writers: Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow.

The Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Show with George Burns and Gracie Allen: Rah-Rah in Omaha (CBS, 1940)—George (Burns) and Gracie (Allen) and her presidential campaign arrive at Omaha’s Exarbin Coliseum in advance of the Surprise Party convention. Additional cast: Truman Bradley, Bubbles Kelly. Music: Ray Noble and the Union Pacific Band, Frank Parker. Writers: George Burns, William Burns, Sid Dorfman, Paul Henning.

Vic & Sade: Vic’s Picture Not in the Quarterly (CBS, 1940)—Vic’s (Art Van Harvey) potential dismay over the lunchtime meat not being done yet may be mild compared to his dismay over his company magazine misidentifying him in a photograph. Sade: Bernadine Flynn. Rush: Bill Idelson. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

Our Miss Brooks: Friday the Thirteenth (CBS, 1949)—“I don’t need any special day to be unlucky,” laments Connie (Eve Arden)—whose Friday the Thirteenth made mere “unlucky” resemble a mere spilled drink. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Stretch: Leonard Stern. Conklin: Gale Gordon. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Writer: Al Lewis.

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: A Cadillac in the Swimming Pool (NBC, 1949)—It’s sponsor Scott’s (Gale Gordon) Cadillac, which had to be moved so Phil (Harris), at Remley’s (Elliott Lewis) suggestion (what a surprise), could get his car down to poolside to unload lawn chairs for Scott’s lawn party. You’re not imagining that sinking feeling. Herself: Alice Faye. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Willie: Robert North. Julius: Walter Tetley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Scharf, Phil Harris Orchestra. Director: Paul Phillips. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

 

Crime Drama

14 May

The Green Hornet: Check and Double Check (ABC, 1946)—It isn’t Amos ‘n’ Andy, kiddies—it’s an apparent check-kiting scheme hitting the Daily Sentinel itself, after Reid (Bob Hall) discovers forged checks written on the paper’s payroll accouts. Kato: Rollon Parker. Lenore Case: Lee Allman. Axford: Gil Shea. Director: George W. Trendle. Writer: Fran Striker.

 

15 May

Dragnet: The Big Mail (NBC, 1952)—A mail truck is held up with 22 sacks of mail missing, leaving Friday (Jack Webb) and Smith (Ben Alexander) to hunt the robbery team when another truck is hit likewise. Almost textbook terseness. Additional cast: Herb Ellis,Vic Perrin. Announcers: George Fenneman, Hal Gibney. Music: Walter Schumann. Director: Jack Webb. Writer: Jim Moser.

 

Fantasy

Quiet, Please: The Little Morning (ABC, 1949)—Grateful for a pre-dawn lift, hitchhiking animator Francis Scott (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) tells his driver about seeing his fiancee again and singing Las Mananitas to her, as they’d promised for each other’s birthdays . . . a year to the day after the woman (Betty Reilly), a cel painter for the same animation studio, died in a hill fire that destroyed all adjacent homes. Music: Albert Buhrmann. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.

 

History

14 May

You Are There: The William Penn Trial (CBS, 1950)—For addressing a public gathering in a challenge to a new British law against unlawful assembly, a law he believed aimed at religious apostasy especially, William Penn (Philip Reniff)—Quaker leader and future founder of Pennsylvania, some of whose ideas would be incorporated into the founding of the United States—stands trial before the Lord Mayor of London in 1670, who jails the jury that acquits Penn of incitement to riot, paving the way toward Bushel’s Case in which one of Penn’s jurors finally wins a formal ruling that juries cannot be punished for their verdicts. Soberly written and delivered. Starling: Barry Kroger. Miss Springer: Juliana Smith. Additional cast: Ian Martin, William Quadmore, Adelaide Klein, Guy Sorrell, Robin Crayman. CBS reporters: Bill Leonard, Quincy Howe, Don Hollenbeck, Ned Calmer. Director: Mitchell Grayson. Writer: Irv Tunic.

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