Tag Archives: Joseph Kearns

25 February: Ugga-ugga-doom

The Man of a Thousand Voices (and probably half as many classic  support roles on radio) came up short at the head of his own show. (Photo: NBC/KGO)

The Man of a Thousand Voices (and probably half as many classic support roles on radio) came up short at the head of his own show. (Photo: NBC/KGO)

Maybe one of old-time radio’s great mysteries is how and why Mel Blanc—whose vocal genius was almost as prolific on the air as on Warner Brothers’ already-immortal cartoons—proved unable to cut muster when he landed his own comedy show for the 1946-47 season.

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20 September: The great howdunit

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Twenty-first century old-time radio lovers may not realise The Whistler was never a truly national phenomenon. The CBS crime drama was almost strictly a western U.S. phenomenon thanks to its sponsor, Signal Oil, doing business in the west alone.

Only twice did The Whistler get a crack at a listenership beyond the west, when Campbell Soup sponsored it in the midwest and the east during the summer of 1946, as a replacement for its moderately successful Jack Carson Show; and, when Household Finance Company (HFC) picked it up from March 1947 through the end of September 1948.

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Culture shock: Old-time radio listening, 3 April

The Jack Benny Program: Journey to the Surface of the Earth (CBS, 1955)

The look on Joseph Kearns's face in this publicity photo could have been the look of Ed the vault guard coming up to the surface world after several decades . . . (Photo: NBC)

The look on Joseph Kearns’s face in this publicity photo could have been the sum of Ed the vault guard’s brief experience coming up to the surface world after several decades . . . (Photo: NBC)

If you were to launch a discussion as to what might be the single-most heard episode in Jack Benny’s long and distinguished radio career, you might think about tossing this one into the evidence box. In the decades prior to the digital revolution, which passed several hundred Benny (and other) shows onto digital files as the original transcriptions passed to the public domain, this—in its entirety, or in generous excerpts—will be one of the most often-cited and often heard.

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Two shades of Lurene: Old-time radio listening, 20 November

The Whistler: Death Sees Double (CBS, 1944)

Radio Life staged this photograph to salute Lurene Tuttle’s jaw-dropping turn as identical twins on The Whistler . . .

Yes, this is the same as the 6 November 1944 episode known first as “The Twins.” Unfortunately, “The Twins” was pre-empted, allowing CBS’s national network to carry a speech by Republican presidential aspirant Thomas E. Dewey, the former New York governor challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the first of Dewey’s two failed White House bids.

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Unexpected mourning on Quality Street: Old-time radio listening, 14 September

Lux Radio Theater: Quality Street (CBS, 1936)

 

DeMille dedicates tonight’s Lux to Thalberg’s memory . . . (Photo: CBS)

There is a pall over tonight’s Lux Radio Theater production of this classic light-to-medium comedy.

It may not become evident until the broadcast’s end, when host DeMille addresses it directly, but Hollywood, and much of the world, is mourning the unexpected and premature death of one of the film industry’s genuine early giants.

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