Category Archives: drama/dramatic anthology

10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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4 December: The backwoods renaissance man

Bob Burns, at the height of his radio career. (Photo: NBC.)

Bob Burns, at the height of his radio career. (Photo: NBC.)

Bob Burns only sounds like an Arkansas bumpkin, normally. Though he was born and raised in the Natural State, Burns (born Robin Burns) actually has a college education and an early life that includes serving as a civil engineer and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps’ early jazz band as a trombonist. In due course, he would become a farmer, carpenter, fisherman, toymaker, sailor, gunsmith, and even amateur astronomer.

In short, Burns is a kind of renaissance man of remarkable sanity and balance. And it was a very good thing, too, considering how long it took him to establish himself as an entertainer.

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15 November: Frances Farmer’s furies


Anne Shirley must have every eye of the studio audience and the crew upon her more intently than they’d be trained upon a Lux Radio Theater performance without the backstory hers carries. She’s standing in for one of the most spectacular crackups in Hollywood’s none-too-unspoiled or unsoiled history.

By now the original lead actress in Come and Get It has left Hollywood for the first time, partially in pursuit of stage work, and partially out of frustration that she can’t get roles that don’t call upon more than just her arresting looks. And Frances Farmer—whose turn in the original Come and Get It should have made her a bona fide star—can’t and won’t convince people that shunning glamour off set means anything but trouble.

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14 November: Waxing wartime

Fibber & Molly up to their necks in Johnson's wax products. (Photo: S.C. Johnson.)

Fibber & Molly up to their necks in Johnson’s wax products. (Photo: S.C. Johnson.)

Fibber McGee & Molly has been remarkably effective in putting over wartime issue stories other comedies often stumble to deliver, largely because the first couple of 79 Wistful Vista and their master writer Don Quinn avoid lapses into blatant propaganda. And, with the full consent and support of their sponsor.

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9 October: The high price of Oscar on the air

Blyth and Bracken with tomorrow's news today . . .

Blyth and Bracken with tomorrow’s news today . . .

Academy Award was only slightly deceptive as the title of this short-lived dramatic anthology. The hook was that at least one of each week’s players, or the film itself that was condensed for the radio performance, had either won or was nominated for an Oscar. Somehow, merely having been nominated didn’t seem quite enough for such a ballyhooing series name.

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