Category Archives: Western

28 May: Circus Maximus

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

The irrepressible Jordans as the irrepressible McGees. (Photo: NBC.)

Whom better to revel about circuses and wedding anniversaries on the same night six years apart than the First Couple of Wistful Vista?

Didn’t think so . . .

TUNE IN TONIGHT

Fibber McGee & Molly: The Circus Comes to Town (NBC, 1940)

As if Wistful Vista isn’t already its own kind of circus of the soul, the real thing hitting town brings out the clowns and jugglers in several of the local denizens, including and especially the High-Flying Sucker of 79 (Jim Jordan) who’s just dying to see the show’s hula dancers and bumps into an old buddy.

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27 April: Matters of records . . .

Margaret Whiting. (Photo: CBS.)

Margaret Whiting. (Photo: CBS.)

What I called a “seeming resurgence” of vinyl records last year seems to be swelling considerably this year. So it’s still appropriate to review one of the most interesting pop culture explorations in old-time radio history, scripted in part by one of the medium’s best crime drama leads.

 

TUNE IN TONIGHT:

The CBS Radio Workshop: The Record Collectors (CBS, 1956)

Biologist Vincent Arbolgast (Howard McNear) and teratologist Titus McFadridge (Lou Houston) stand firmly on the side of vintage 78 rpm shellac records and the more primitive recording technology of the earliest 20th Century, not to mention the popular performers of that period, such as Margaret Young.

Posted in classic radio, comedy, crime drama, History/Documentary, Music/Variety, old-time radio, Western, World War II | Leave a comment

22 April: Tangled web-weaving with a flourish

Lurene Tuttle is a murderous would-be heiress tonight . . . (Unknown publicity photo.)

Lurene Tuttle is a murderous would-be heiress tonight . . . (Unknown publicity photo.)

Only The Whistler could get away with setting you up to know who did it right out of the chute, simply because it rarely got better than that for taking you through the labyrinths the bad guy or girl traveled before committing the crime in question . . . most of the time. Sometimes, of course, people as well as things aren’t quite as they seem at first.

On the other hand, tonight the bad girl learns the hard way about tangled web weaving . . .

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6 April: The Gamble who pays off big for the McGees

Arthur Q. Bryan (right), the irrepressible Dr. Gamble, with Jim and Marian Jordan. (Photo: NBC.)

Arthur Q. Bryan (right), the irrepressible Dr. Gamble, with Jim and Marian Jordan. (Photo: NBC.)

It takes Elmer Fudd not just to step into a World War II breach on Fibber McGee & Molly seventy years ago tonight, but to instigate one of old-time radio’s most memorable in-show rivalries. All because two key cast members were leaving to go to war.

Gale Gordon as Mayor La Trivia has proven invaluable in replacing spun-off Harold Peary’s Gildersleeve as the pompous among Fibber McGee’s deflationists, though La Trivia, almost invariably, would end an encounter in a choked-blustery fuddle. And Bill Thompson, arguably the cast’s most valuable player, has held down three characters of near-equal value, if not near-equal popularity: the tall-tale-dragger Old Timer, the locquacious and half-indecipherable Nick Depopolous, and the smarmy Horatio K. Boomer.

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17 March: The echoes of unforgotten laughter

Al Hirschfeld's memorable portrait of Fred Allen at work, used as the jacket cover for a posthumous collection of Allen's correspondence.

Al Hirschfeld’s memorable portrait of Fred Allen at work, used as the jacket cover for a posthumous collection of Allen’s correspondence.

Fred Allen didn’t deserve to die on St. Patrick’s Day. This hardy satirist of Irish stock and hardscrabble New England youth—forced twice off the air thanks to the hypertension that would eventually sign his death warrant, provoking the heart attack that kills him at 61—also proved wrong in his eulogy for those who practised his singular art, in the closing passages of Treadmill to Oblivion (Boston: Atlantic Little, Brown, 1954):

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