Bob Hope hasn’t exactly been a radio superman until the 1938-39 season. He’s coming off two mediocre seasons on CBS and on NBC Blue. But he’s getting as crunchy a one-two punch as any entertainer can get this season.
First, he’s been a big hit in The Big Broadcast of 1938, and the charming duet he sang with Shirley Ross, “Thanks for the Memory,” is on its way to earning the Academy Award and becoming Hope’s signature song for the rest of his life, just about.
Second, the film’s success prompts Pepsodent to bring Ol’ Ski Nose back to radio, on NBC Red this time. The toothpaste maker and the network get better than they bargain for this time around: The Pepsodent Show with Bob Hope will finish twelfth overall on the season and third on Tuesday night, thanks to the strength of the hour it mades with its 9:30 p.m. EST lead-in—Fibber McGee & Molly.
Truth to tell, it would take a few months before the McGees could deliver that big fat lead-in: Marian Jordan is still recuperating from the hospitalisation that would be revealed decades later to have tied to her battle with the bottle, and husband Jim has soldiered on without her under the Fibber McGee & Company rubric.
But by April 1939 Marian/Molly will be back. More important, the finalised format of the gently barbed but heartwarming Fibber McGee & Molly will be in place and, with almost no variation, keep the Jordans holding hands with Hope as NBC’s longtime Tuesday night comedy mainstay.
For the next twelve seasons to come, Fibber McGee & Molly and Bob Hope will give NBC the top-rated Tuesday night shows. This season, with the average Tuesday night Hooper rating 13.4, the Jordans will pull down a 17.6 and Hope and company will draw a 15.4, with only Al Jolson on CBS wrenching between them at 17.3.
TUNE IN TODAY . . .
The Pepsodent Show starring Bob Hope: The First Heart and Soul (NBC, 1938)—Mr. Jokes, Inc. whips through a round of Halloween jokes, recalls a name-droppable Halloween party, engages a little mad fun with guest Martha Raye, and tries to convince Professor (Jerry) Colonna to tone down the volume on the upstairs dance studio.
Announcer: Bill Goodwin. Music: Skinnay Ennis Orchestra, Six Hits and a Miss. Director: Possibly Norman Morrell. Writers: Possibly Milt Josefsberg, Norman Panama, Jack Rose, Al Schwartz.
Fibber McGee & Molly: Trolley Rider (NBC, 1949)—The Satrap-hanger of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) is spending a lot of time riding the Wistful Vista trolleys these days, ever since he heard the trolley company is offering a cash prize for the best suggestion to improve service and business.
Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Olly: Richard LeGrand. Conductor/Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.
Further Channel Surfing . . .
Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Trouble Hearing the Show (CBS, 1942)—Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa, Jack Smart, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed, John Brown, Charlie Cantor, Arthur Godfrey. Guest Robert Benchly has too much radio interference and the March of Trivia trivialises coffee rationing. Writers: Fred Allen, Roland Kibbee, possibly Nat Hiken.
The Baby Snooks Show: Halloween (CBS, 1946)—Fanny Brice, Hanley Stafford, Arlene Harris, Ben Alexander, Frank Nelson, Georgia Ellis, Sarah Burder, Robert Bentz. Daddy’s plan to teach Snooks about Halloween mischief backfires. So does the script. Writers: Philip Rapp, possibly Jess Oppenheimer.
Life with Luigi: The Football Game (CBS, 1949)—J.Carroll Naish, Ken Peters, Alan Reed, Jody Gilbert, Mary Shipp, Joe Forte, Hans Conreid. Luigi’s first live football game and a tale of two dating schemers. Offside and holding. Writers: Mac Benoff, Lou Derman.
Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin’s Car Pool (CBS, 1953)—Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Bob Rockwell, Jane Morgan, Richard Crenna, Gloria McMillan, Mary Jane Croft. Conklin tries to finance his new car by strong-arming his faculty and students into paying $8 a month to car pool. Provoking a surprise attempt to break that arm. Guess who you’ll root for. Writer/director: Al Lewis.
Broadway is My Beat: The Amelia Lane Murder Case (CBS, 1952)—Larry Thor, Jack Kruschen, Charles Calvert, Barbara Whiting, Herb Butterfield, Sam Edwards, Norma Varden, Edgar Barrier. A dead librarian and a twisted college triangle that includes a widowed romance language professor and a troubled student. Only the triangle is twisted. Writers: Morton Fine, David Friedkin.
Lux Radio Theater: A Free Soul (CBS, 1937)—Ginger Rogers, Don Ameche, Charles Winninger, in the Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, and Lionel Barrymore film roles. With Claire Whitney, Myra March, Edward Maher, Eddie Cane, Lou Merrill, Norman Field, James Eagle, Justina Wayne, Sally Creighton, Frank Nelson, Ken Chavel. Daughter of boozy defense lawyer romances the gambling gangster her father defended against murder—until her jilted paramour needs Dad’s defense himself. Tamer than the film, but that’s where the grip of the drama may lie. Adapted from the screenplay by John Meehan, and Becky Gardner, from the William Nack stage play, based on the novel by Adela Rogers St. John.
Romance: Daddy Long Legs (CBS, 1943)—Myron McCormick, Florence Williams, Gladys Thornton. The Jean Webster novel is adapted here: Wealthy American sends orphan girl to college—on her promise as a writer, and on condition she write him once a month and never know his true identity. Adapted by Jean Holloway.
Escape: Flood on the Goodwins (CBS, 1949)—Barton Yarborough, Will Geer, Jack Edwards, Betty Lou Gerson, Eric Snowden. Nazi agent who finished anotherm ission hijacks an English Channel fishing boat and forces captain and owners to take him to Belgium. A little predictable but done well enough to stay. Writer: James Poe, based on a story by David Divine.
Suspense: The Dunwich Horror (CBS; AFRS rebroadcast, 1945)—Ronald Colman, William Johnstone, Joseph Kearns, Elliott Lewis. The H.P. Lovecraft classic about a fatherless child born into strange household, killed by dogs, and thus exposing a terror in his family’s farmhouse. Writer/director: William Spier.
Truth or Consequences: The Hot Seat (NBC, 1947)—Host: Ralph Edwards. Guessing about “Miss Hush”; a wife has no clue she’s been wired into a hot seat with her husband able to zap her by way of a switch covered by a rug, among other stunts. What started as a giveaway show spoof becomes a perverse phenomenon of its own. Writers: Mel Vickland, Ed Bailey, Bill Burch.
The Six Shooter: Ben Scofield (NBC, 1953)—James Stewart, William Conrad, Herbert Vigran, Parley Baer, Jimmy McCallion. There’s a good if sad reason why Ponset’s old friend, Clay City Sheriff Scofield, doesn’t want his help bringing in a Wells Fargo robber and killer. Laconically effective as usual. Writer: Frank Burt.