Tag Archives: Escape

13 March: The man who grew up the western

Meston (seated) with Macdonnell---the western wouldn't be kid stuff anymore. (Photo: CBS.)

Meston (seated) with Macdonnell—the western wouldn’t be kid stuff anymore. (Photo: CBS.)

It may yet surprise old-time radio lovers/collectors of the 21st Century that half the brains behind radio’s arguable most groundbreaking western never won any award recognising his skill.

Colorado-born John Meston didn’t come to Norman Macdonnell to co-create Gunsmoke out of nowhere. Meston and Macdonnell had worked together previously on the respected but often ill-scheduled CBS adventure series Escape. Moreover, Meston by then had worked his way up to become CBS’s story editor. He shared with Macdonnell a feeling that there could be more to the radio western than the typical fare isolated in the children’s hours, which sounded too often to have been written and acted that way, too.

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12 September: A dubious re-elopement

Fibber McGee & Molly: 15th Anniversary (Elopement) (NBC, 1939)

Fibber McGee & Molly, on the air. Seen far right: announcer Harlow Wilcox. Seen center on podium: bandleader Billy Mills. (Photo: NBC.)

Fibber McGee & Molly, on the air. Seen far right: announcer Harlow Wilcox. Seen center on podium: bandleader Billy Mills. (Photo: NBC.)

Jim and Marian Jordan have actually been married 21 years today. That the childhood sweethearts were married at all probably testifies to their perseverance more than anything else, considering Marian Driscoll’s parents were far less than enthused about a) their daughter’s dreams of a life in the theater; and, b) her romancing by a farm kid with the same wild-eyed dreams.

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Space odyssey: Old-time radio listening, 19 November

Dimension X: Competition (NBC, 1950)

Les Tremayne, one of the New York actors involved heavily enough with Dimension X . . . (Photo: NBC)

Suspense and Escape dipped into the genre once in awhile. Quiet, Please was a very occasional dipper but focused, as always (and brilliantly), on the psychological fantasy first. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were strictly for the kids and often as not insulted even their intelligence. Not until 1950, when Destination Moon becomes a film hit, does old-time radio find an impetus for a full science fiction series, and the first such show, Dimension X, will prove as well to be the best of its breed.

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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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Joanie, we barely knew ye: Old-time radio listening, 22 October

Joanie’s Tea Room: Will Andy Russell Make a Movie? (CBS, 1945)

Joan Davis, at the height of her old-time radio career. (Photo: CBS)

In most ways, Joan Davis will be done a disservice, from her coming out as a bona-fide radio comedy lead to her premature death fourteen years later.

Bad enough that Joanie’s Tea Room introduces her, invariably, as “America’s queen of comedy,” a title that sounds just a little too smugly pretentious attached to a woman who hasn’t exactly won it, by acclaim or otherwise. Worse is that the introduction and the show itself are accompanied by a somewhat smarmy publicity campaign not of the ill-fated star’s own making.

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