Tag Archives: Dick Powell

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.

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On the threshold: Old-time radio listening, 24 December

Yuletide without Barrymore? Bah! Humbug! (Photo: CBS.)

For all who celebrate, and for anyone sorely in need of extra cheer this and any such season, today’s offerings are dedicated.

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

Set in hell, delivered in verse (some of it, admittedly, is a little on the awkward side but the archness of the delivery and the quality of the bulk makes up for it), some of history’s most notorious villains to that point convene to plan Christmas’s demise—as soon as they can quell this little, ahem, family squabble. (Sit down, Haman—for I am Ivan the Terrible! Brother Ivan is a demagogue/with the brain like a fly and the manners of a hog.)

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Two days in November: Old-time radio listening, 7-8 November

Sylvia Picker, as Alan Ladd’s airy secretary on Box 13 . . . (Unknown publicity photo)

Two days in November. The perfect palliative for electoral hangovers, considering that, the way we got blitzed with political ads this time around, oh brother did we need a drink—even before we went out to vote, if we did . . .

Comedy

7 November

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Hard-boiled laughs: Old-time radio listening, 20 September

Richard Diamond, Private Detective: The Bald Head Case (NBC, 1950)

Powell (right, with Ed Begley) as Richard Diamond—finally cracking his tough-guy/song-and-dance personae . . .

Dick Powell wanted to break both his tough-guy and his song-and-dance film images, so he took on Rogue’s Gallery, which turned out to be an underrated pilot fish (he left the show after three years; it endured for a few more without him) for his real radio starmaker, the breezier, livelier, funnier, and no less realistic Richard Diamond, Private Detective . . . and did precisely what he wanted.

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“Three, four, five, six, seven, eight . . .”: Old-time radio listening, 17 September

Edward R. Murrow: Counting the Parachutes (CBS, 1944)

Talk about going where the action was . . . (Photo: CBS)

In one of his classic broadcasts during World War II, Edward R. Murrow—whose habitual flying aboard bombing runs, married to his legendary rooftop reporting of the earlier London Blitz, prompts many at CBS to wonder if their champion news leader has a death wish—flies such a run during the Allied invasion to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip.

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