Tag Archives: Lum & Abner

23 December: The Pine Ridge philosophickers

Chester Lauck (left) and Norris Goff, the irrepressible Lum & Abner. (Photo: CBS)

Chester Lauck (left) and Norris Goff, the irrepressible Lum & Abner. (Photo: CBS)

If Amos ‘n’ Andy had been Ozark whites instead of Chicagoland blacks, they might be Lum & Abner.

Like the Fresh Aire Taxi Company barely-operators, Lum Edwards and Abner Peabody are smarter than they sound, not so smart as they think, and good for a more-than-periodic fleecing by a shifty slicker. Rock-bottom romantics in their idiosyncratic manner, also like Amos ‘n’ Andy, the pair are honest-to-God enterpreneurs who only have the same problem making ends come to within sight of each other as every third American during the Depression era. And they aren’t averse to a little flim-flamming . . . so long as they’re the flim-flammers and not the flim-flammees.

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16 September: Nibbling the hand that can’t feed you

The Milton Berle Show: Salute to Radio (NBC, 1947)

Milton Berle, who never got vaudeville out of his blood. (Photo: NBC.)

Milton Berle, who never got vaudeville out of his blood or his brain. (Photo: NBC.)

It seems perversely appropriate that the nation’s Uncle Miltie-to-be delivers a good-natured satire of radio a year before he becomes Mr. Television. For all his radio years, Milton Berle will probably be the luckiest man alive to land his Texaco Star Theater television job and legend—because he’s actually known as old-time radio’s biggest prolonged failure.

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Bone appetit: Old-time radio listening, 7 January

The Big Show: Dinner Most Deadly (NBC, 1951)

How often do you get screen legends Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich on the same stage at all, never mind aboard old-time radio’s splashy last-ditch bid to revive its once-venerable variety style?

Tonight on Tallulah Bankhead’s glamour fest, Robinson features in a playlet drawn from Cornell Woolrich’s “After Dinner Story,” playing Harold Hodecker, a man whose son, daughter-in-law, and unborn grandchild were killed in an elevator crash . . . the survivors of which are now gathered with Hodecker at dinner, where he reveals he’s going to name the actual murderer—whom he’ll identify by way of a rather novel if deadly act—despite official rulings of suicide.

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A star over Pine Ridge: Old-time radio listening, 23 December

Lum & Abner: Christmas Story (CBS, 1938)

Chester Lauck (left) and Norris Goff, the irrepressible Lum & Abner. (Photo: CBS.)

The Pine Ridge philosophickers, unafraid to step just slightly beyond their serial element for the right occasion, have just that in this holiday classic. And if you think you can smell the potbelly stove burning, hear the occasional clatter of store wares, or even sense what Gerald Nachman would call a horsefly crawling across a sack of feed, when you listen to this quiet, rustic, but hardly dull-witted rural slice-of-life, just wait until you smell and sense the snow and the occasional brisk, slicing shaft of wind tonight.

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Arthur’s Alley: Old-time radio listening, 18 October

Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Les Miserables (CBS; War Department Special Services rebroadcast, 1942)

Not quite ready for prime time? (Photo: CBS)

Unusually, Fred Allen acts as his own announcer to open the show, from a nod to the increasingly swift movements of Allied forces across Europe to the introduction of the first orchestral number—before he brings forth actual announcer, Arthur Godfrey.

Godfrey is something of a rising radio star thanks to his morning exercises out of Washington and, as John Dunning (in On the Air) would describe it, there is sufficient buzz in the press over the folksy-sounding capital ad-libber teaming up with network radio’s long-established master ad-libber and satirist.

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