12 March: Crime didn’t pay for Carson

Carson's comedy couldn't get past the crime fighters. (Photo: CBS.)

Carson’s comedy couldn’t get past the crime fighters. (Photo: CBS.)

It’s hard to know if and how he complained, of course. But up to and including the day he died, Jack Carson—otherwise a distinguished character actor in film—was a perversely inverted testament to the adage that crime doesn’t pay.

When he graduated from hosting the West Coast-only series Signal Carnival to his national CBS series in 1943, Carson at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday nights ran smack up against Mr. District Attorney . . . and got clobbered. On a night when the average Hooper rating was 13.4, Mr. District Attorney delivered a whopping 21.4. Carson’s 8.9 wasn’t even within two county lines of it.

He’d be moved to 8:00 p.m. in due course but not show much better there, either. In 1945-46, for example, Mr. and Mrs. North smothered him in that time slot, Carson’s 9.4 no match for the sleuthing couple’s 12.1. In fact, no matter how good it was—and as often as not is was better than it will be remembered for having been—The Jack Carson Show can never escape single-digit ratings.

 

 

(Photo: Campbell Soup Company.)

(Photo: Campbell Soup Company.)

Carson won’t taste double-digit radio ratings until the fall of 1947, when he teams with Eve Arden—with whom he had a supporting role in Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford’s Oscar winner) two years earlier—to host Sealtest Village Store after Jack Haley gives up the hosting job. The problem this time will be that Carson still can’t overcome crime competition, Sealtest Village Store‘s 14.5 for 1947-48 will be no match for Casey, Crime Photographer‘s 15.6 at 9:30 Thursday night.

Carson will give up after that one season and revisit his sitcom format on NBC for 1948-49. And again he loses to a crime drama, this time to ABC’s The Fat Man. Finally Carson surrenders, returns to his film work full time and to some television as well, and gives up on radio entirely. He’ll continue as a well-employed, respected character actor until his death in 1963.

Even in death, Carson gets a radio gumshoe in the backside: he will die on the same day as one-time Rogue’s Gallery and Richard Diamond, Private Detective star Dick Powell.

 

TUNE IN TONIGHT:
The Jack Carson Show: Jack Writes His Will (CBS, 1947)

The jaunty Jack (Carson) gets sober all of a sudden, when he comes to the deadline of a series of threatening telegrams by “The Mad One” (Herb Vigran) advising he had forty-two days before . . . who knows, but why should that get in the way of writing his will or indulging his fears?

Himself: Arthur Treacher. Tugwell: David Willock. Additional cast: Norma Jean Nilsson. Announcer: Del Sharbutt. Music: Freddy Martin Orchestra. Director: Sam Fuller. Writer: Leonard L. Levinson.

 

WORLD WAR II ERA
Fireside Chat: The Banking Crisis; or, What Has Been Done (All Networks, 1933)

With the previous fortnight’s bank crisis followed by the previous nine days’ “bank holiday,” after gold withdrawals from banks began to hike as high as fifteen million dollars a day,* President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduces America to his Fireside Chat series of periodic radio broadcasts.

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking—with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

Thus the inaugural Fireside Chat, addressing the banking crisis and Roosevelt’s plans to allow bank re-openings on a measured basis, while the President offers at least one rejoinder to critics who fears the new administration driving toward fiat money.

Whether to inform or to lull and gull, and there will be opinions on both sides, FDR will deliver thirty Fireside Chat broadcasts between 1933 and 1944.

 

World News Today: Sorties, Penetration, and Desperate Stands (CBS, 1944)

Air sorties against Hamburg, and Soviet troops penetrating further west toward the heart of the Third Reich; and, updates on the Italian battle fronts, including weather-related delays and appeals to keep the war from reaching Rome herself after it couldn’t be kept out of Florence, highlight today’s edition.

Feature: An interview with an Army Air Force pilot taking part in precision bombing raids, describing the deep preparations and the specific isolated structures to be avoided; and, another interview with the developer of the so-called six-ton bomb developed for more efficient destruction of the Nazi war industry.

Also: A desperate German stand; Brazilian alarm over domestic food shortages plus Nazi propaganda, agitation, and even political support around South America; Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels’ recent hasty retreat from an incoming air raid on Berlin, even as Germany boasted full preparation against any major Allied invasion of Europe; troops of the Fourth Marines and Seventh Army talk high morale to a correspondent after a deep raid in the Marshall Islands; a report on Irish stablisation efforts out of Washington; and, an interview with a Navy submarine tracking commander on southern Atlantic operations. 

Correspondents: John Daly, Charles Shaw, George Fielding Eliot, John Adams, Glenn Stadler, Webley Edwards, Don Prior. Announcer: Webley Edwards. Anchor: Douglas Edwards in New York.

 

 

Further Channel Surfing . . .

Fibber McGee & Molly: A Kite-Flying Contest with Doc (NBC, 1946)
The Great Gildersleeve: Leroy is Arrested (NBC, 1947)
Our Miss Brooks: The Burglar (CBS, 1950)
The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: Trying to Break Up Julius and Marjorie (NBC, 1950)
Richard Diamond, Private Detective: Joyce Wallace (NBC, 1950)
The Whistler: Strange Meeting (CBS, 1950)
Fibber McGee & Molly: Promoting Business (NBC, 1954)
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Clinton Matter, Part One (CBS, 1956)
The Couple Next Door: Negotiating the Price (CBS, 1958)

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